Wm. Oddie on the rumor about Marini and the CDW

P Marini style

William Oddie has a spot-on column at the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald.

A few comments before we get to the main course.

First, a few years ago a book came out over the name of (Archbishop) Piero Marini, the former MC for John Paul II and, for a while, Benedict XVI. He is a disciple of the late Annibale Bugnini, supporter of “gay” marriage, herald of discontinuity, etc.  In that book, Marini attacked Benedict XVI and crowed that when the Consilium was meeting, they knew they were going to change doctrine by changing liturgical worship.

Context: The Consilium has just just taken a major step in moving from an informally meeting group to an officially and formally established body.  They have their first plenary session.

“They met in public to begin one of the greatest liturgical reforms in the history of the Western church.  Unlike the reform after Trent, it was all the greater because it also dealt with doctrine.”  (p. 46)

P Marini style

They succeeded.  The work of the Consilium, in revising the Missale Romanum, did indeed change the Church’s doctrine. Change they way you pray and you change what you believe… and vice versa.

Second, we have to be ready to Be The Maquis.

Third, when the appointment takes place, I’ll believe it.

Is Pope Francis thinking of appointing as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship a disciple of Annibale Bugnini deeply hostile to Benedict XVI’s reforms?

If Archbishop Piero Marini really is appointed, it will be an unmistakeable declaration that we are all to be plunged back into the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture

By William Oddie

There have, it seems, for the last four or five months been persistent rumours from the eternal city that a dedicated opponent of Benedict XVI’s liturgical reorientation of the Church (certainly including Summorum Pontificum) is to be appointed prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship by Pope Francis. I have to say that these rumours had passed me by (a little fiddling round on the net reveals that Damian Thompson spotted them back in June) and I have only just caught up with them thanks to Fr Finigan, who in his indispensable blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity has this: “There is a rumour (and I understand from various sources that it is not a wild one) that Archbishop Piero Marini may be appointed as the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Archbishop Marini (not to be confused with the papal MC Mgr Guido Marini) was removed as papal MC by Pope Benedict. He is a disciple of the late Archbishop Bugnini and published a book A Challenging Reform: Realising the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal.” [That’s the book I mentioned.]

The foreword of this book says, I find, that it “is intended as a complement and supplement to the account of the liturgical reform published in 1985 by Annibale Bugnini, La riforma liturgica (1948 – 1975)”. Archbishop Bugnini, of course, was the chief architect of the “reformed” liturgy which actually emerged, and the great bugbear of liturgical traditionalists, a “Spirit of Vatican II” type if ever there was one. Piero Marini was his personal secretary, was himself deeply involved in the “reforms” and is still a fervent disciple. Fr Z has a killing story about Bugnini. When the Ayatollah Khomeini took control in Iran, he summoned the diplomatic corps into his presence and made them kneel down to him. Bugnini, then the papal nuncio to Iran, did it. He knelt. When news of this reached Rome, some wag in the Curia quipped that Bugnini was doing in Iran all the genuflections he had removed from the Mass.

The publishers of the English edition of Marini’s book, are an obviously highly ideological outfit, called the Liturgical Press, who also published the English edition of Bugnini’s book (of themselves, they say that “The Liturgical Press is a trusted publisher of liturgy, scripture, theology, and spirituality evolving to serve the changing needs of the Church”). About Marini’s book, they say this: “In these pages Archbishop Piero Marini reveals the vision, courage, and faith of the pastors and scholars who struggled to implement the Second Vatican Council’s teachings on the liturgy. While in some circles it is fashionable to propose ‘a reform of the liturgical reform’, any such revision needs to take into account the history of the consilium — the organism established by the Holy See to carry out the initial liturgical changes. This story of the work of the consilium offers a fascinating glimpse into the struggles and tensions that accompanied the realisation of the council’s dream to promote the ‘full, conscious and active participation’ of the faithful in Roman Catholic worship.” [Fascinating glimpse.  Road kill can be fascinating too.]

Well, we have been warned: there would be no more reform of the reform if these rumours are true: if Marini really does become prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship it will be back to square one with a vengeance. And a real message would be being sent out: that all those who have been issuing Jeremiads to the effect that Pope Francis’s pontificate is taking a radically different path from that of Pope Benedict will be proved right, and I among many others, who have been saying that there is a real continuity between the two popes, will have got it badly wrong. Back to Marini’s book. I haven’t yet read it (nor, unless he is appointed, do I intend to): but here’s part of its review in Adoremus (which I tend to trust) by Fr Neil J Roy:


Read the rest over there.

To Mr. Oddie I would respond, even if he is appointed as Prefect, we would have to see what, in fact, happens in the Congregation.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr AJ says:

    To tell the truth, at this point I’ll be surprised if Archbishop Marini is not appointed to the CDW.

  2. majuscule says:

    Oh you know how gossip gets garbled.

    Maybe the other Marini is the one who will be appointed.

    If a Marini is appointed at all.

  3. OrthodoxChick says:


  4. Geoffrey says:

    “Maybe the other Marini is the one who will be appointed.”

    From your keyboard to God’s computer screen!

  5. MikeM says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it. If it does happen, though… well, then I’ll be a lot closer to the many of you who expect this pontificate to be an unmitigated disaster. Not only is the man a heretic and a bully, leaving grave concern about the direction that the Church’s efforts at spiritual formation will take, but he also took a very publicly nasty tone towards Pope Benedict after his dismissal… and appointing someone with that tendency would cast some serious doubts on Pope Francis’ management sense. But, I’ve seen nothing to indicate that Pope Francis is interested in courting those sorts of problems. I think he’d more likely stick with the current Marini than do that, though I kind of expect that he’ll pick a lesser known “moderate” figure and try to avoid liturgical politics as much as possible.

  6. McCall1981 says:

    Is the fact that these rumors have been around for so long, without an actual appointment, any reason for optimism? I mean, if he was picked so long ago as June, why hasn’t the appointment been made?

  7. Tom Piatak says:

    I disagree that Piero Marini’s appointment, even if it were to happen, would mean the end of the reform of the reform. The reform of the reform will continue as long as there are priests interested in a dignified and reverent celebration of the Mass. And I think there are more priests all the time who are interested in that.

  8. McCall1981 says:

    That’s what I’ve been wondering too. Why invite such conflict by appointing a controversial figure, when Francis could appoint a lesser known moderate figure? Particularly since he seems not to have strong liturgical opinions. It seems like that’s what he did with some of the other appointments, who have seemed pretty non-controversial.

  9. mamajen says:

    An Archbishop who likes to waste Church money on flamboyance? That doesn’t seem to mesh with Pope Francis’ style. Proving longstanding rumors true isn’t like him, either. I suspect (well, hope) he will surprise us all.

  10. acricketchirps says:

    Is there no one with the Pope’s ear willing to grovel in the dirt begging, beseeching, supplicating, rending his garment that this not come to pass?

  11. mburn16 says:

    I have to agree with McCall1981.

    Pope Francis does not strike me as a Pope particularly concerned with liturgical reform in ANY direction. He has admitted having a lesser affection for chant, etc. for his own personal reasons, but I don’t think we’ve seen much evidence that he wishes to repaint the liturgy with a brush of any color. I think he is aware some of his recent actions have rankled church traditionalists…but those were actions directly in keeping with his stated desire for a broader outreach to those currently outside the faith, in short, he saw them as necessary. I don’t see that he would go and intentionally create a deeper rift for an issue he has only minimal attachment to.

    As for “reform of the reform”…its effectively on hold under Pope Francis, for the very same reasons stated above – it isn’t something he has a strong attachment to, or indeed, interest in. The question of liturgy has been set aside for the next Pope to deal with…..and for that reason, the long-term liturgical consequences of any of Pope Francis’ appointments would seem to be minimal.

  12. Bosco says:

    “And from the time when the continual sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination unto desolation shall be set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred ninety days ” – Daniel 12:11

    So much for my retiring from the field of battle.

  13. Whereas Pope Francis has thus far shown a typical Jesuit’s lack of much interest in liturgical matters, any such appointment as Piero Marini would signal a move of the liturgy to the font burner of his papacy. Which seems a bit unlikely, since Francis has not yet suggested any focus on liturgy as “source and summit” of Catholic identity and spiritual life.

  14. Bosco says:

    Incidentally, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote (commenting on the second temptation of Jesus in his 2004 book ‘On the Road toward Christ Jesus’ and referring directly to Soloviev’s ‘A Short Tale of the Antichrist’):

    “And a phrase of Soloviev’s is illuminating: The Antichrist believes in God, but in the depths of his heart he prefers himself.”

    Just reading a bit of Pope Benedict XVI’s writings.

  15. I agree with Henry Edwards that, as far as matters Liturgical are concerned, Pope Francis has shown little interest thus far. However, that being said, my gut tells me that he will end up making this appointment, if only because, in his words, ‘he has the humility and the ambition’ to make extremely bold, autocratic moves whenever he deems fit. If he believes at any time that the interests of his pontificate would be promoted, or the mission he embodies moved forward, by making this move, we may have full faith that he will indeed follow through. I suspect that such a move would probably come about as a peripheral one; i.e., in order to create a certain culture in the Church receptive to his teachings and docile to his reforms, rather than with a specific intention for the Mass itself. We shall have to see. If these rumors prove to be true, when they are fulfilled in actuality, one thing is for damn sure: The Reform of the Reform will be finished on the Magisterial level. Sure, it will continue regardless in certain portions of the societal element of the Body of Christ in those Deacons, Priests and Bishops who give a fig about ‘offering to the Lord a worthy ritual’ to quote Benedict XVI, but in terms of Rome, we will be back to square one and most if not all of the work Benedict XVI accomplished during his Papacy will be eroded. This is the power that a single poor pontificate can have over the Church in such a delicate time, it can literally send us back to the 1970’s and 80’s Liturgically, morally, theologically, and spiritually. Let us pray for Pope Francis, that he may realize the gravity of his actions and the destruction he is unleashing, rivaling that of Paul VI’s pontificate. Unfortunately, it appears as though this destruction is seen in his eyes as a good to be sought, and even exceeded during his own pontificate:

    “I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace. Vatican II, inspired by Pope Paul VI and John [XXIII], decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to be open to modern culture. The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”

  16. mburn16 says:

    “This is the power that a single poor pontificate can have over the Church in such a delicate time, it can literally send us back to the 1970?s and 80?s Liturgically, morally, theologically, and spiritually.”

    It “can”….but it can also be challenged by a future, well reasoned, intentional act by any of Francis’ successors. I think there’s a tendency to overstate the permanence of any given policy that doesn’t relate directly to doctrine. Particularly if such policies are only peripheral to the Pope’s real intentions.

    Let me put it another way: the liturgical reforms of Paul VI are still with us today in their present form, not because of some insurmountable quality of reform, but because Pope John Paul II never took a particularly strong initiative to reverse or revise them. If Francis can so easily undo the liturgical work of BXVI, then there is no reason to suspect that the undoing cannot be undone just as easily.

    Finally a point to make about Francis taking us back to the 1970s….Francis is a Priest of the 1970s, the 1970s in Latin America no less. Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise us. But once again, I see no reason for that to make things permanent, or even particular enduring.

  17. netokor says:

    The blog for me would become: “Reading Francis through Benedict through Z through Marini.”

    No, wait. It’d be Francis through Marini through Benedict through Z? No, let’s try again….

    I’m just glad the Holy Spirit can manage the Ship without anyone’s help.

  18. lana says:

    Regarding some of these comments about the Archbishop – I think one should not speak about any Archbishop (or any priest, for that matter), except with due reverence, even if he’s a sinner. One may disagree, but respectfully, and I’m not sure how public even respectful disagreements ought to be. Maybe Fr. Z can comment on that.

  19. Sonshine135 says:

    It gets pretty sad when the “good news days” about what is going on in the Vatican are the “no news days”.

  20. TNCath says:

    At this point, nothing would surprise me. However, if Pope Francis does appoint Archbishop Marini, it’ll be more than “back to square one.” It’ll be a slap in the face to Pope Benedict, Msgr. Guido Marini, and the entire liturgical movement that has been taking place the last few years. Appointing Archbishop Marini as head of CDW will only solidify the contention that Pope Francis really doesn’t care that much about liturgy because, under a “Marini administration,” it will be “Katie, bar the door” at parishes all over the world.

  21. rbbadger says:

    Marini’s book is useful for one main reason. It does give the point of view of his mentor and friend, the late Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, C.M., the secretary of the Consilium without having to read Bugnini’s own self-pitying and self-justifying memoir. It does the same thing that Bugnini’s book does in portraying the reformers as heroic, saintly, learned, and operating with only the best of intentions and their opponents as crass, unlearned, and beyond the pale. You just don’t have to wade through nearly 1,000 pages of text!

  22. ClavesCoelorum says:

    Until I noticed the first name of the Archbishop, I was flabbergasted. “Msgr. Marini let the Pope put THAT on?” But then, thank heaven, I was comforted. :)

  23. tcreek says:

    If Archbishop Marini gets the post, the blame should be placed where due. Marini today would justly be a “nobody” if not for Pope John Paul.

  24. janeway529 says:

    In Abp. Piero Marini’s book, you will also find that another follower of Bugnini is actually Pope St. John Paul II himself. https://wdtprs.com/2011/05/marini-not-guido-says-john-paul-ii-wanted-all-the-liturgical-nonsense/ You may not believe it, Fr. Z, but don’t forget that Pope John Paul II kissed a Quran and confided to a certain bishop, “I thought the Cardinals were going to excommunicate me.”

  25. anilwang says:

    I doubt he’d pick Marini, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he picks someone with strong sympathies to the “Charismatic Renewal” movement, and this might result in some Charismatic options being added to the liturgy. I seriously doubt Pope Francis has a liturgical agenda other than providing a few more options for some well established movements within the Catholic faith, since he seems to like diversity and his own liturgies haven’t been too far from the norm.

    I’m more worried about the G8. If they decide that national bishops conferences should be delegated control over the liturgy, similar to the way each Eastern Church currently has control, we might see a return to the old ICEL liturgy, complete with new options for rock liturgies, and theme liturgies (e.g. Halloween liturgy, Mardi Gras liturgy, etc).

  26. frjim4321 says:

    I’m siding with the “I’ll believe it when I see it” group. It seems like to blatant of a step and that Francis is too much of a peacemaker for such a slap in the face to the ultra-rights. I think he would come up with another way to restore balance to liturgy in the West.

  27. frahobbit says:

    I’m making note of St Michael’s Russian Catholic Church worship schedule (nyc); although it would render the old ICEL liturgy all the more painful by contrast.

  28. Palladio says:

    But there is no balance, Father, in Roman Catholic “liturgy in the West.” There is a lot of very bad liturgical practice, neglect, and abuse. There is then everything else, some of it adequate, and some of it fine. The ignorance of the laity is lamentable, and the self-identifying “traditionalists”–not a word I have much hope for–have had no time to compose themselves, it seems to me, to make a difference outside of their own circles. “The ultra-rights” you mention, I have no idea who they might be. The late Spanish General Franco?

  29. Kathleen10 says:

    I remember the days of hoping that President Obama would not turn out to be the extremist he appeared to be. Ah, those were the days.

  30. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    Father Neil Roy’s review of Archbishop Marini’s book is excellent. Here’s another fine review: http://liturgysociety.org/JOURNAL/Volume13/13.1BookReviews.pdf

  31. Gaetano says:

    Deus avertat. If so, we’ll have to start attending the 9 am Mass at the local Byzantine/Ruthenian Catholic Church. If only if there were an Italo-Albanian Byzantine parish closer to us.

  32. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Kathleen10: Yes. I have low expectations, too.

  33. SpittleFleckedNutty says:

    “… as far as matters Liturgical are concerned, Pope Francis has shown little interest thus far…”

    God forbid if this Pope gives an interview on the liturgy: “the idea of an altar, of a real sacrifice taking place… that is solemn nonsense.”

  34. VexillaRegis says:

    How old is the guy?

  35. McCall1981 says:

    Marini is 71

  36. VexillaRegis says:

    Thanks, McCall! Then I think he should retire and not disturb the rest of the world with his bad taste in litugical matters. Ha.

  37. McCall1981 says:

    I’ll second that motion!

    I recently spoke to someone with some knowledge of the Curia, and he said not to worry too much if it is Marini because the CDW is not a very powerful department. He said that Marini could set a bad example, but wouldn’t have the power to really do too much, that he couldn’t do much to SP, etc.

    Does someone with more knowledge than me want to weigh in on this? Is this true?

  38. One concern that I have is that the Congregation might get around to issuing what was reported to be in preparation: some sort of manual about celebration of the Novus Ordo. I was against that notion even during the last pontificate. I would be even more against it if the document had at anytime been within 100 meters of Piero Marini’s pen.

  39. robtbrown says:

    I don’t see this happening. I think the rumors are being driven by people who don’t want to see Marini as prefect

  40. robtbrown says:

    Keep in mind that although Jesuits have worn a black cassock, their favorite color is plaid.

  41. CharlesG says:

    I think the best we can hope for is a prefect at CDWDS who will at least keep the status quo and not actively try to revert to 1970s, so that on the ground the seeds for greater reverence, beauty and tradition (and better music and chant propers in the vernacular and Latin!) sowed under BXVI especially might at least not be hindered in their potential growth. When Paul VI sent Bugnini to Coventry, i.e., Teheran, it was basically to call a stop to any further ongoing reform and allow the reforms already carried out to be absorbed by the Church. Bugnini and the liturgical reformers by the mid-70s had a somewhat Maoist notion of permanent revolution, i.e., local churches and bishop’s conferences should be freed up to continue to promote local innovations, draft all kinds of new Eucharistic prayers, etc. While the silly season continued in liturgical practice locally in the 70s and 80s, at least the center was not officially pushing any further innovations beyond what had already been enacted by the early 70s, and over time some of the at least more outlandish abuses started to die down, so I am glad that Paul VI drew a line in the sand when he did, and regardless of whether some of the ad hominem allegations against Bugnini are just or not. It is the danger of that mentality of continual innovation in the liturgy that I worry about most with the return of a Bugnini mindset. I do worry about Liturgiam Authenticam and the accuracy of liturgical translations, which work is not yet done in many major languages. I worry about new Eucharistic prayers and allowing further innovations. I worry that priests will use Francis’ decrying of “small minded rules” as justification to ignore the GIRM rubrics at will.

  42. TNCath says:

    I predict yet another “silly season” in liturgy within the next year or so. While we may not have to put up with burlap vestments, I predict a reprise of “All Are Welcome,” “The Summons,” and “We Are Church.”

  43. sometimes rumors have a hint of truth. Will wait and see like everyone here.
    ” It’ll be a slap in the face to Pope Benedict” EXACTLY & if it’s true all the talk about charity,love and being kind to our brothers and sisters from Pope Francis flies out the window.
    All i will be able to do at that point is pray for him,but especially for Pope Emeritus Benedict and more so for the Church.

  44. James Joseph says:

    Maybe the actual names of who might be appointed got all garbled…. I propose that Msgr. James P. Maroney, a black chasuble vester, is going to be consecrated a bishop of some diocese that fell into the hands of infidels (like someplace in Florida or Michigan) and then be appointed head of the congregation.

  45. iPadre says:

    I would hope the Holy Father will not give his stamp of approval to someone who would classify the Pontificate of Benedict XVI in such contrast to that of his own. “One can already breathe the fresh air. It is a window that is opening to the spring and hope. Till now we have been breathing the bad air of swampy waters.” (The words of Archbishop Marini after the election of Pope Francis).

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