Lament for the Liturgy

Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy by Yves Chiron is indispensable both for its historical depth and breadth and also for understanding how we received the only liturgy that most Roman Catholics have ever experienced.

Fifty years ago this April, Pope St. Paul VI issued the Apostolic Constitution, Missale Romanum, which promulgated the Novus Ordo Missae, the New Rite of the Roman Mass. The Novus Ordo went into effect the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, 1969. This new missal was the culmination of efforts set into motion by the first of the four constitutions promulgated by the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which called for the Latin Rite’s “liturgical books . . . to be revised as soon as possible” to employ “experts . . . on the task” and to consult the bishops of various parts of the world in the revisions. To say that the faithful’s experience of worship changed in the period from 1963 through 1969 is an understatement. The language, gestures, orientation, and much else in the Mass changed—sometimes overnight.

How did the Church go from the Sacrosanctum Concilium to the Novus Ordo? What was the process that led from that Constitution, promulgated on November 22, 1963, to the Novus Ordo that went into effect just six years later? It is to these questions that Yves Chiron, a noted-French historian and writer, directs himself in his newly-translated book Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy.

The late-Archbishop Bugnini, was the Italian Vincentian who served as the influential secretary of the Consilium ad exsequendam Constiutionem de Sacra Liturgia (the Committee for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy). Chiron’s work is both a biography of Bugnini and a succinct overview of the Consilium’s work in implementing and imposing the liturgical reform that gave us the Novus Ordo and the current Liturgy of the Hours.

Chiron’s work is equal parts impressive and depressing. It is impressive because Chiron avoids both polarizing starting points and conclusions, shows a great command of the primary sources, and in under 200 pages gives a succinct overview of the Consilium’s work. Chiron’s biography is a sober, objective, and well-researched account. His Bugnini is no bogeyman.

It is depressing because the book gives an unvarnished window into the political machinations, processes, and frequent failings behind the liturgical reform. In reading Chiron’s book, one understands at a deep level Joseph Ratzinger’s trenchant but charitable critiques of the post-Vatican II liturgical reform. For instance, in Milestones, Ratzinger writes:

It was reasonable and right of the Council to order a revision of the missal such as had often taken place . . . But more than this now happened: the old building was demolished, and another was built . . . [S]etting [the Novus Ordo] as a new construction over against what had grown historically, forbidding the results of this historical growth, thereby makes the liturgy appear to be no longer a living development but the product of erudite work and juridical authority; this has caused us enormous harm. For then the impression had to emerge that liturgy is something “made,” not something given in advance.

Indeed, this book helps one understand why Ratzinger has stated that “with respect to the Liturgy,” the Pope “has the task of a gardener, not that of a technician who builds new machines and throws the old ones on the junk-pile.” Chiron’s book shows that the Consilium’s work too often was that of a technician rather than a gardener. In Chiron’s account we see the (self-inflicted) wound that continues to harm the Church to this day. Chiron’s book is indispensable both for its historical depth and breadth and also for understanding how we received the only liturgy that most Roman Catholics have ever experienced.

Bugnini’s early years

Bugnini was born to a pious Italian family in the Umbrian hills and like two of his siblings entered religious life, joining the Vincentians. As young priest, Bugnini was a liturgical innovator. He experimented with the dialogue Mass, something that had already become relatively common. The dialogue Mass consisted of “the faithful reciting the ‘responses and prayers’ that were otherwise said by the server(s).” But Bugnini went beyond this, having “the assembly say aloud a sort of paraphrase of the text of the Mass.”

Bugnini’s words concerning his achievement are revealing of a mindset that would come to dominate the liturgical reform: “The ‘inert and mute’ assembly had been transformed into a living and prayerful assembly.” Bugnini viewed active participation—what some would say is better described as actual participation—as equal to or at the very least primarily expressed through verbal actions—speaking and responding. This view of participation sees it not primarily as an inner phenomenon, by which the faithful enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation, death, and Resurrection, made present in the liturgy, but rather something manifested by outward actions and demonstrations.

When Bugnini became director of the Vincentian liturgical journal Ephemerides Liturgicae, he had a platform from which to “broadcast his ideas for a liturgical reform.” Like so many other tasks to which Bugnini put his energies, the journal, which had been moribund, began to flourish. Bugnini commissioned a survey of liturgical needs and desires. The survey was generated by Bugnini’s wish to “rejuvenate the liturgy, ‘ridding’ it of the superstructures that weighed it down over the centuries.” Bugnini wanted to pursue a “streamlining of the liturgical apparatus and a more realistic adaptation to the concrete needs of the clergy and faithful in the changing conditions of our day.” Again, the words Bugnini used to describe the liturgy—“superstructures,” “apparatus,” “changing conditions of our day”—are revealing of a certain mindset. It was a mindset that Bugnini would use his significant organizing skills to put into effect as secretary of the Consilium.

The Second Vatican Council

After Pope St. John XXIII announced his intent to convoke the Second Vatican Council, Bugnini was appointed to serve as secretary to the preparatory commission for the liturgy for the Council. Perhaps the most significant of the preparatory commission’s suggestions was that the “‘structure’ of the ‘so-called-Mass of Saint Pius V’ had to be ‘reformed’ in such a way that additions be suppressed and that other elements improved or embellished,” and that “elements genuine, fundamental, and suited to our times should be cultivated.”

With the inception of the Second Vatican Council, Bugnini suffered the first of two significant demotions in his ecclesiastical career. Bugnini, with good reason, had expected to be named the secretary of the Council’s Commission on the Liturgy. Instead, that position went to another priest. Bugnini would serve simply as a peritus, an expert. But Bugnini would not be out of favor for long. Sacrosanctum Concilium was the first constitution adopted by the Council Fathers on November 22, 1963. In early 1964, the Consilium was established with Bugnini as its secretary.

The Consilium

It is with the inception of the Consilium that Chiron’s book takes on the pace of a gripping novel. A key to understanding the Consilium was its autonomy from the Roman Curia. It could function in ways that normal curial congregations could not. And given that Bugnini had already established a strong relationship with Pope Paul VI and that Bugnini was the day-to-day administrator of the Consilium, he had considerable power. As Chiron writes, Bugnini “was truly the architect of the reforms that were about to begin.”

And the reforms began almost right away and in a piecemeal fashion. Chiron documents something we too often forget. While the Novus Ordo did not go into effect until Advent 1969, significant liturgical experimentation and changes were being undertaken in the six years between the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Novus Ordo’s implementation. The Holy See issued several documents, produced in large part by the Consilium that revised portions of the Mass and allowed for different options prior to the implementation of the Novus Ordo.

For instance, Inter Oecumenici, issued in 1964, called for the recitation of the Our Father in the vernacular by priest and congregation together, introduced the prayer of the faithful, and suppressed the Last Gospel and the Leonine Prayers, among other things. Inter Oecumenici also introduced the possibility of Mass facing the people. As Chiron writes, “this concession was soon to become the norm” with Paul VI “himself giving the example.”

In 1967, the Holy See issued another instruction on the liturgy, Tres Abhinc Annos. Chiron states that it introduced “significant modifications to the celebration of Mass” including reducing a number of the priest’s gestures—kisses of the altar, signs of the cross—and genuflections and “complet[ing] the introduction of the vernacular into the Mass by allowing the Canon to be said aloud and in the vernacular.”

The Consilium would continue to revise the new rite in the years to come, soliciting feedback from cardinals and bishops attending the 1967 meeting of the Synod of Bishops. The Mass was also tested in front of the synod fathers, though the reaction was decidedly mixed. After further revisions, in January 1968, over the course of three days, the Consilium celebrated three versions of the new Mass in front of the Pope, using different Eucharistic prayers and different “modes of celebration.” This new version of the Mass added the “Sign of Peace,” which had not been used at the demonstration of the Mass to the Synod of Bishops.

What is striking about Chiron’s description of these experimental Masses is the way in which the new Mass was essentially Beta-tested. Reading Chiron’s description, one cannot help but think of engineers in a design studio designing a product, tweaking it, and then testing it out on a pilot group before introducing the product to market. This new Mass was not the result of the slow organic growth of certain practices and the paring back of others. Rather, it was the product of experts and technicians working it out abstractly in a “laboratory.”

Even before the final Novus Ordo was promulgated, the Holy See permitted the use of eight new prefaces and the three new Eucharistic Prayers in addition to the Roman Canon. The finalized Novus Ordo “synthesized and made official changes that had already been taking place.” These included the following: “a more communal penitential part of the Mass; more numerous and diverse Sunday readings spread out over a three-year cycle; a restored ‘universal prayer’; new Prefaces; a changed Offertory; three new Eucharistic Prayers . . . ; modified words of consecration, identical in all four Eucharistic Prayers; the Pater noster said by the whole congregation, . . . ; [and] suppression of many genuflections, signs of the cross, and bows.”

In short, the Mass we know today.

Bugnini’s final years

In Chiron’s final two chapters, he discusses Bugnini’s fall from grace and eventual service as Apostolic Nuncio to Iran. Bugnini seems to have served ably and nobly as the nuncio. And, as relations between the Vatican and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and his Society of Saint Pius X worsened, Archbishop Bugnini urged restraint and mercy. He even “suggested that the celebration of the traditional Mass might be authorized,” subject to certain conditions. The Vatican rejected this advice. On a visit to Rome for medical care in 1982, Bugnini died of an embolism. He was buried with the epitaph: “Liturgiae amator et cultor”—Lover and Supporter or Cultivator of the Liturgy.

An Assessment

Chiron’s book provides a helpful vehicle by which to assess, at least partially, Bugnini and his efforts at liturgical reform. If one were to base this assessment simply on output and results, Archbishop Bugnini must be judged a resounding success. In the space of six years he took the general directives of the Second Vatican Council and engineered a new missal for the Latin Rite. The Mass, which had been celebrated for centuries in Latin, was now celebrated, almost exclusively, in the vernacular. Within a half-decade, Mass went from being celebrated ad orientem in both the East and West, to being almost exclusively celebrated versus populum in the Latin Rite. The reforms directed and overseen by Bugnini have become deeply embedded in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.

And, yet, reading this wonderful book in light of the 50 years since the Novus Ordo’s implementation, Bugnini’s legacy is decidedly more mixed, even negative. Bugnini and the other members and consultors who manned the Consilium were undoubtedly experts in the practice and history of the liturgy. Their legacy, however, raises the very important question whether they were, as Paul VI famously described the Church, “expert[s] on humanity.”

The buzzwords of their articles, talks, and titles of their books betray their biases and presuppositions and suggest that they were not experts on humanity. For instance, Dom Botte’s book describing his inside view of the liturgical reform is titled From Silence to Participation. Bugnini described the transformation of the “inert and mute assembly” into true participants. Such descriptions are a common theme. The liturgical reformers failed to see how silence could be a form of participation, indeed perhaps a deeper participation than the recitation of banal translations.

The reformers also seemed unable to credit ordinary lay people with the ability to learn and penetrate the mysteries of the Mass as it was already being celebrated. If these people could not “understand” the words, they could not truly worship. Bugnini had to paraphrase the Mass to make it “accessible.” This both assumes that one can really comprehend phrases such as, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body,” and obscures the manner in which mystery and comprehension coincide and overlap. As we begin to grow in knowledge, we realize that God’s mystery is even greater than we ever imagined.

The reformers’ zeal for relevance and for a liturgy fit for contemporary man was and is a fool’s errand. As soon as one “updates” a liturgy, it is suddenly out-of-date. The new new man succeeds the new man. And so on and so forth. Nor does this chasing after relevance take into account man’s eternal and universal thirst for transcendence.

Finally, Bugnini and his fellow reformers put a premium on rational comprehension and stark simplicity. But this was done at the expense of basic human anthropology and a proper understanding of God. We are not simply spirits, but embodied souls who need to touch, to feel, to taste, to see. When we no longer kneel, genuflect, kiss, adore, we often cease to believe. We may now “understand” the words of the liturgy but at the expense that we do not actually believe them. Further, God is superabundant. His language is superabundance. He expresses Himself in ways that seem excessive, even superfluous. Why should our worship of Him be any different?

Chiron’s book is a great gift to the Church. While we cannot change the past, Chiron gives us the ability to see it clearly, to assess it with honesty, and to ask the deep questions that will help us avoid making missteps in the future. Bugnini was clearly well-intentioned. He loved the liturgy. But so many of his actions undermined rather than cultivated the liturgy he loved. May we avoid repeating his mistakes.

Annibale Bugnini:Reformer of the Liturgy
By Yves Chiron
Foreword by Alcuin Reid
Angelico Press, 2018
Hardcover, 214 pages

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About Conor Dugan 15 Articles
Conor B. Dugan is a husband, father of four, and attorney who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


  1. I do not agree with conclusion that “Bugnini was well-intentioned.”

    There are multiple sources indicating that one or more trial versions of “Bugnini’s Mass” (a phrase used by the late Lazslo Dobzsay of Hungary) were roundly rejected by bishops gathered to witness the mock demonstrations, because “Bugnini’s Mass” was devoid of essential Catholic theology.

    The most recent and damning statement is from Fr. Louis Bouyer who worked on the Concilium with Bugnini, and in his Memoirs stated that Bugnini would lie and manipulate the Consilium members stating that the Pope insists on one change or the other, and then present it to the Pope and say the Consilium is unanimous in insisting on the same changes, thus the changes were the “Mass” Bugnini designed for himself.

    These changes went against Catholic theology. Bouyer confirms in his Memoir that when the final form of Bugnini’s Mass was presented, it still lacked essential Catholic theology in the prayers. The matter had no reached a crisis point, as Bugnini had resisted retaining the missing Catholic theology, and the deadline for approval was the next day. The Pope personally ordered Bouyer (a friend of the Pope) and Fr. Botte to take Bugnini’s text and insert a menu of minimum Catholic content needed to get Bugnini’s Mass enough votes to pass. Bouyer and Botte has only a few hours to get it all done, and they had to do it at a cafe table near the Vatican, and present it hours later to the Pope.

    Bouyer stated that Bugnini was “a man as bereft of Catholic culture as he was of basic honesty.”

    It is not persuasive to conclude that Bugnini was “well-intentioned” if we have eye-witnesses testify that he was deceitful in his work, and the deceit was designed to erase Catholic theology in the Mass.

    I am sorry to reply that we cannot ignore that Bugnini’s intentions were “un-Catholic.” Bouyer attributes this to Bugnini’s ignorance and deceitfulness.

    Let us hope that Bugnini’s impoverished deceit is itself undone.

    • Chris, thank you for your comment. I think it possible that Bugnini was both well-intentioned AND used illegitimate and nefarious means to bring about his misguided but well-intentioned goals. I think Bugnini was not that well educated and had a very malformed idea of what liturgy was for but I do not believe his intent was to wreck the liturgy. His intent was to see his goals realized and his means were often illegitimate. I have read Bouyer’s account and think it also very helpful.

      • Thank you in turn Connor.

        As you can expect, I cannot join you in concluding that he “meant well,” if by meaning well we mean “meaning to uphold and transmit the deposit of our faith.” But reasonable people can disagree.

        On the point we do agree about, that Bugnini was ignorant about Roman Catholic liturgy and culture, it was and remains a monumental injustice against the faithful that Pope Paul VI knowingly put the faith in the hands of a prideful and manipulative man of such low caliber. It is the mark of rank clericalism, and a very black mark against Pope Paul VI who committed this act of gross neglect.

        In its wake, the Pope and his iconoclasts obviously went much further “behind our backs,” secretly suppressing the most ancient Eucharistic prayer in use in Christianity, the Roman Canon, and obviously labored to ensure that young priests around the world were taught to ignore the Roman Canon. The near universal disappearance of the Canon is prima facile evidence of this suppression. And one can certainly see that the suppression actually indicates the interior lack or loss of faith in the theology of The Canon among thousands of bishops and priests, well-represented by the German Bishop who quipped: “we can no longer assert that Christ died for our sins;” and by Cardinal Kasper of current dominance, who declared in 1969: “The God who sits enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offense to Man (God in History, 1969);” and who for 45 years has published his text “Jesus the Christ,” teaching seminarians and catholic college students worldwide that the Gospel miracle accounts are “legends” (Jesus the Christ, 1974 edition, pp 90-91, re-issued without retraction in 2011, and employed in seminaries controlled by Cardinal Cupich, etc.

        These men have a creed I suppose…it’s just not Catholic…and 50 years hence…the Church has collapsed.

        As we have heard it said, the road to hell is paved with “good intentions.”

        • Bugnini was sacked twice – once by John XXIII – and then again by Paul VI who had unfortunately reinstated him in a position of great influence and authority as head of the Consilium charges with implementing the Council’s document on liturgy. I’ve never myself known what the reasons for these two removals were, but I suspect it was a bit more than simply showing up late for work. There must have been a rather serious reason for sending to Iran rather than simply farming him out as the ordinary in some remote rural diocese. But the horse had long bolted by the time that Paul VI finally closed the barn door.

        • I agree with you.

          The Church has collapsed.

          I left the RCC because I can see it is irredeemable.

          None of the popes since Pius XII have done anything to fix things; and may never.

          • This is not the first time the Church has gone through a dark period. Nothing can diminish the truth of the Faith or the authority of the Church’s definitive teaching.

      • ” I think Bugnini was not that well educated and had a very malformed idea of what liturgy”

        Leaving one to wonder why anybody would put him in charge of changing the Liturgy. I mean, wouldn’t you think that the first thing you’d do would be to check to make sure he had a clue?

    • Exactly right. This article (and, it would seem, the book being reviewed), take a much too sanguine view of Bugnini. Contrary to what his smug, self-promoting epitaph states, he was in fact the destroyer of the liturgy.

  2. We cannot change the past.

    But if Bugnini et al could get away with deforming the Mass by way of deceit, we can rid ourselves of Bugnini’s work.

  3. Old Mass, new Mass, high Mass, low Mass, folk Mass, Latin Mass, — so what?

    If the consecration is part of the service then all the rest is simply a matter of difference in taste and not worth getting all worked-up about.

    Just attend the one which one feels most comfortable. Allow each diocese and/or parish to offer them as demand indicates and cost allows.

    • Jake:

      If the form and content of the Mass is a matter of personal preference, then it is easy to understand how that reasoning applies to the meaning of “the consecration” itself.

      This seems to be the effect since the establishment of Bugnini’s Mass,, since we are repeatedly informed that “most Catholics” (however that may be defined) do not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and for that matter, the vast majority of “Carholics” don’t even bother going to Mass.

      Clearly, “most Catholics” are “not impressed” by Bugnini’s Mass. If they were, attendance would not have cratered.

      For myself, I am old enough to have served as an altar boy in the Traditional Mass, and so witnessed the entire change.

      It cannot be said that Bugnini’s Mass caused a renewal of faith, which was the stated intention of the Council’s Sacrosanctum Concilium. The Bugnini Mass has not achieved that purpose, and by that standard, it has failed the Church.

      • I’m the same age as you — altar boy at the Latin Mass. My memory of it is different, though. I remember congregations going through the motions — rote recitation, monotone voices, leaving early, no discernible indication of religiosity, simple fulfilling an obligation.

        • Even if all you say is true – and by the way neither rote recitiation nor monotone voices mean that they were “going through the motions,” and just because you personally didn’t discern any indication of “religiosity” means nothing at all – as I said, even if that were true and they were simply fulfilling an obligation – so what?
          To do so one must recognize that it is an obligation, and thus:
          1)there is a God
          2)He is to be worshiped
          3)He established a Church through which He is to be worshiped
          4)that Church is the Catholic Church
          5)The Church has the right to impose an obligation, which one must fulfill

          Why is that a bad thing?

          Leaving early is not good – assuming that there is not a good reason for it – but that still happens today. And it is a lot worse that so few people are even “simply fulfilling an obligation” by showing up at Mass, rather than skipping Mass altogether.

      • And I suspect that Jake means this kind of “Feelings”:

        Feelings, nothing more than feelings,
        Trying to forget my feelings of love.
        Teardrops rolling down on my face,
        Trying to forget my feelings of love.

        Feelings, for all my life I’ll feel it.
        I wish I’ve never met you, girl; you’ll never come again.

        Feelings, wo-o-o feelings,
        Wo-o-o, feel you again in my arms.

        Feelings, feelings like I’ve never lost you
        And feelings like I’ve never have you again in my heart.

        Feelings, for all my life I’ll feel it.
        I wish I’ve never met you, girl; you’ll never come again.


          • More likely Morris Albert. Mathis sang it later, but Albert was the one who wrote it and had the original hit.

            And I can never think of that song without remembering the Archie comic that had one of the characters singing “Peeling…Coming through the ceiling…Now and then revealing….Paint of long ago…”

    • You might as well say God or no God, so what? If the way man worships God is so unimportant, why did He give elaborate instructions to the Jews in how they were to perform their service of worship? Is modern man a different species than God’s once chosen people where he decides how he will relate to God?

      • I think there are 6 , 7 or so accepted rites in the Western Latin church. Some not used much anymore but all acceptable Vatican approved.

        And the numerous Eastern Catholic Rites of the Mass (Divine Liturgy).

        All of which are different, all of which are approved. No one-size-fits-all for the Mass — I’m not sure there ever has been.

        • This is a tiring and worn out argument when you compare who and why the Roman Rite was transformed into a man-worshipping, faith destroying liturgy. There is no comparison between the Novus Ordo and any past rite approved by the Church.

    • Jake,you should not say such things. Nothing in the Divine Liturgy is a matter of taste, the Beloved told Moses and the People of God, for all generations – meaning us! – to do all things precisely according to their divine establishments and holiness, not to change anything at all, neither to the left or the right – I’ll let you prayerfully read, meditate and contemplate, all of the Sacred Scriptures on this.

      I am sure you do not realize it, but what you are proposing is unholy, or sacrilegious. I hope and pray that you can come to discover Christ and His Heart and Mind on this and His Mysteries in general, Padre

      PS. Bugnini was not moved to Iran because he was well-intentioned, just the opposite… I would be interested in the author’s reply to the points Bouyer is said to have made by Chris in Maryland….

      • Neither unholy nor sacrilegious. All rites which I support are Vatican approved — and there are numerous ones in both the Western rite and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches.

        I simply do not think it proper to force my choice unto others if indeed there are choices — which there are — all approved as worthy of leading to the consecration.

    • If none of that matters, then why were “progressives” so insistent that the liturgy be changed so drastically? Clearly, it mattered to them.

      • What matters is that an APPROVED rite is used — it does not matter which one. There are numerous approved rites of the Mass in both the Western and Eastern Catholic Church branches.

        The Tridentine Mass is not the be-all-end-all of worship leading to consecration.

        • I’m not sure I take your point: I said nothing about the Tridentine rite. But I do think, now that you mention it, that it much more effectively conveys a sense of mystery and holiness than the current OF does.

      • You’re right, Glenn – it did matter to them to change (or, putting it bluntly, destroy) the Liturgy, stripping it of anything indicating sacrifice, removing any language indicating humble worship. Then add a lousy translation to English that made it even worse.

        They’re very fond of the calling it a “meal,” and referring to the altar as a “table.” So, using the meal theme, it’s as if one invited someone to a dinner in his honor and, instead of a meal with the nicest table setting one could manage, and people dressed in a way that showed respect to the person being honored, people showed up in sloppy, dirty, torn clothes, and were served on cheap and flimsy paper plates while the honoree was ignored.

  4. Excellent piece! This needs to be widely circulated to priests and laity alike if one has not the patience to read the book.

  5. From all of this we can conclude several things: 1) Expertise does not equal wisdom; 2) The Roman liturgy is the common cultural heritage of all Roman Catholics, and no individual or committee had the right to destroy it; 3) Bugnini’s liturgy failed to accomplish any stated goal by any verifiable standard; 4) The road to hell is paved with good intentions (if indeed Bugnini had good intentions, which is highly debatable).

    • “Expertise does not equal wisdom.” Which I have always assumed is why the buck stops finally with the pope. Who in this case ended up being canonized. That’s the real mystery.

    • It is hard to escape the suspicion that his canonization was a purely political gesture, robed in “miracles.”

      I suppose we cattle are expected to believe in “miracles” in this particular case, despite the outright denial of the Gospels’ miracles as “legends” by our double-dealing Tuetonic “Retiree,” Walter Cardinal Kasper, hero-theologian of our sitting pontiff.

    • Or at least, he wouldn’t have been canonize so soon – it took 400 years for that honor to be conferred on St. Thomas More, a seemingly more obvious candidate. I’ll always be grateful to Paul Vi for his 1965 encyclical Mysterium Fidei, affirming traditional teaching on the Eucharist, for the 1968 Credo of the People of God and, above all in the same year Humanae Vitae. But I also have to live with Paul’s egregious presumption in single-handedly destroying the Catholic liturgy, with massive harm to many souls. Perhaps from the vantage point of sainthood, he can guide his successors so that they might undo the disaster of his making.

      • Nice. There is also this:
        “Pope Paul VI is described by most historians as a kind of tragic figure, trying to control the whirlwind of events surrounding him, but unable to do much. It is probably because of this, because … he frequently accepted the fabricated notions and texts which committees of false sages delivered to him (with very small modifications), that the moments in which he did not bend shine so clearly with the simple brightness of Peter. The Nota Prævia to Lumen Gentium, the vigorous defense of the traditional Eucharistic doctrines (in Mysterium Fidei) and of the teachings on Indulgences (in Indulgentiarum Doctrina), the Credo of the People of God–these are pillars which remain standing in a crumbling edifice, signs of supernatural protection.”

  6. ““Liturgiae amator et cultor”—Lover and Supporter or Cultivator of the Liturgy”

    Ha. It doesn’t sound to me as if he loved the Liturgy; that’s like saying, “oh, yes, I love the Cathedral of Notre Dame, now let’s just take off those unnecessary towers, and fill in those useless niches around the doors with some nice smooth cement, and square off those silly pointed and round windows and fill them with good plain clear glass, and throw some drywall up to block off that vaulting and lower the ceiling, and who needs all those statues? But yes, I certainly do love the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and look how well I’ve cultivated it!”

    “Reformer” is not the mot juste; “deformer” would be nearer the mark, and “mangler” or “maimer” even more so.

  7. Yves Chirac had also written, among other things, a detailed biography of Pope St. Pius X. I wish that he would write one about Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val. All of the ones that I have been able to find are ore or less retellings of each other, with no really good research done.

  8. For the record, the German Bishop who in 2009 denied that Jesus died for our sins was the then-head of the German Bishops Conference, Bishop Robert Zollitsch.

    And he made sure he said it on TV.

    As the head of that conference – we can begin with a rebuttable presumption that since he is elected by his peers, he represents the opinion of the majority of German Bishops…which would surprise none of us I should think.

    I am not aware that he was disciplined or even required to retract this statement, which shows us how far as a Church we have fallen from grace.

    And in returning to our topic, it is the sacrificial death of Jesus for our sins that is suspected to be the disbelief of Bugnini, etc in the “deformation” of the Mass.

  9. The observation “We may now ‘understand’ the words of the liturgy but at the expense that we do not actually believe them” should provide food for thought for a long mental voyage.

  10. Intent of Bugnini – L’Osservator Romano, 19 March, 1965:

    “We must strip our Catholic prayers and the Catholic Liturgy of everything that poses the shadow of a stumbling block to our separated brethren – that is the Protestants.”

    The above cannot be understood as a Catholic intention, but is instead in direct opposition to the SC of the Second Vatican Council.

  11. A 2016 PEW poll indicated only 22% of Catholics in America attend Mass weekly. In Canada and Europe that figure for Sunday Mass-going drops to single digits. The Novus Ordo is a Mass in name only, at least compared to the Traditional Latin Mass of the Tridentine Rite. The “Assembly of the People of God” is how Archbishop first defined his Novus Ordo Mass in 1970. Nothing about the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross bloodlessly re-enacted at Mass by a Catholic priest who thereby confects the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus for our reception in Holy Communion. Mass-as-an-Assembly? I mean, Quakers have an assembly at their Meeting House every week, but an assembly does not a Eucharist make, nor a Mass. The Bugnini Novus Ordo is really the Mass most stripped-down version of it to a point just short of being unrecognizable by the average Catholic. The Traditional Latin Mass has everything the Novus Ordo lacks. Bring the TLM back in its best form, that contained in the 1950 Missal, left untouched, before Bugnini began his destruction of Sacred Liturgy.

    • As “liturgical master” (according to Bugnini) Joseph Gelineau SJ stated, with unabashed satisfaction:

      “The Roman Rite as we know it no longer exists. It is complete destroyed.”

      We can commend him for his candor…but not for his intentions.

      50 years later… Bugnini’s new Church has reached its objective…the triumph of the worldwide McCarrick establishment.

      • I’ve often wondered over the past many years if God didn’t have his hand in the Novus Ordo/Tridentine debacle.
        McCormick et al grew up under the Old Rite. Rebellion against the Church’s teaching on contraception also occurred under the Old Rite. These things had been simmering for decades pre Vatican II. Further, I’ve read in various comboxes over the years that many priests did a sloppy job celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
        Now of course the corruption is out in the open.
        So I’ve wondered if God the Father took something very precious away from his errant children. The TLM was never completely gone, but people have had to fight for it with prayer and action. TLM religious orders and communities are slowly growing and spreading while the NO ones are dying off.

        • You’re right: priestly ordinations, parishes, chapels and religious orders devoted to the TLM are steadily growing, while the Novus Ordo Church is declining. 2019 is the year for Federal/State pedophile prosecutions of priests, bishops and Cardinals in Novus Ordo Dioceses across America. A big reset in the Catholic Church is about to occur when Traditionalist clergy replace convicted and fined Novus Ordo personnel. The Church will become small in numbers, as Pope Benedict predicted, but it will be purified by the holiness of her restored worship and the recovery of her moral character.

  12. I think it appropriate at this time to quote the late, wonderful Knight of Malta William F. Buckley Jr. who in 1979(!) wrote:
    “As a Catholic, I have abandoned hope for the liturgy, which, in the typical American church, is as ugly and as maladroit as if it had been composed by Robert Ingersoll and H.L. Mencken for the purpose of driving people away.

    Incidentally, the modern liturgists are doing a remarkably good job, attendance at Catholic Mass on Sunday having dropped sharply in the 10 years since a few well-meaning cretins got hold of the power to vernacularize the Mass, and the money to scour the earth in search of the most unmusical men and women to preside over the translation.

    The next liturgical ceremony conducted primarily for my benefit, since I have no plans to be beatified or remarried, will be my own funeral; and it is a source of great consolation to me that, at my funeral, I shall be quite dead, and will not need to listen to the accepted replacement for the noble old Latin liturgy. Meanwhile, I am practicing Yoga, so that, at church on Sundays, I can develop the power to tune out everything I hear, while attempting, athwart the general calisthenics, to commune with my Maker, and ask Him first to forgive me my own sins, and implore him, second, not to forgive the people who ruined the Mass.”


    • Thank you Joe Meynier for a great quote. The history of the debacle, if it is ever written, will lay great blame on the idiots who perpetrated the greatest cultural destruction in history. More and more, I find myself isolated on Sunday and even resort to ear plugs. I’m 90. I knew the Liturgy when it when it was beautiful and filled my heart with awe and wonder, even on the deck of a Navy ship or a tiny chapel, or the glorious old Cathedrals of Port au Prince or Rome or London or … Now we have a children’s choir singing ditties in the Sanctuary so big it partially obscures the altar and everybody claps for their performance and takes their picture. Buckley sure knew how to express himself.

  13. Terrific quote. Mr. Buckley wrote this during the heyday of the Novus Ordo and the obscenely giddy delight that Boomer priests and nuns enjoyed due to State exemption from prosecution for their crimes of dissemination of pornography to their young Catholic students, whom they viciously scandalized in sex education classes. The defilement of children’s minds, memories and imaginations during parochial school sex-ed programs closely parallels the systematic desecration of the Holy Eucharist per long-term Novus Ordo strategies. However, the divine forbearance, so inexplicably apparent since 1962, seems well nigh its conclusion, as the hammer of justice is poised to strike down the Novus Ordo child-molesters and their non-stop partying with Church funds derived from the monetary sacrifices made by Catholic working families, whom they have defrauded. Things will soon be quite the reverse of what they were for suffering Catholics, when Mr. Buckley wrote that piece in 1979. The evil Novus Ordo era is about to end!

    • I currently see no significant evidence for what you assert. In fact, recent actions of the Pope seem to lead in the opposite direction. Or have I missed something?

      • What, specifically, are your objections?

        Soon, probably before year’s close, you will have sworn testimony from Federal trials based on evidence of thousands of boys/teens and girls molested by Catholic clergy. Not to mention convictions galore and fines that will bankrupt even more Novus Ordo dioceses. Pope Francis has already down-scaled expectations about any accomplishments emerging to address the priest-pedophile scandals. The days are numbered for the Novus Ordo cult of blind, brute obedience to anti-Traditional subversion, which happily means prospects are ripe for restoration of the Latin Mass of Trent, the regeneration of the Priesthood, the Episcopate, the Cardinalate and the Papacy, and the resurrection of holy childhood purity.

        • You somehow have conflated “Novus Ordo” with a concoction of mixed up bishops and priests who are child molesters. You are mistaken.

  14. I did not know my previous comment would garner any responses, much less the number that it did — all rebuttals.

    But, even though in disagreement and in passionate terms, I thank the respondents for the civility of those rebutting comments. None included snark, name-calling, nor ad hominem slurs.

    Thank you, Mark Redman, padregf, Leslie, Glenn Ricketts, Elaine, and Chris in Maryland.

  15. And the one thing all these Eastern Rites and alternative Roman Rites have in common is that they all radically differ from the Novus Ordo in being Christ-centered, instead of “community” and celebrant centered.

  16. I agree with the commentators who lament a de-emphasis on the sacrifical character of the Mass. I think it’s unfair, though, to claim that the 1969 Roman Missal is without any mention of sacrifice. The sacrificial character of the Mass is expressed in each of the four main Eucharistic prayers of the 1969 Roman Missal. Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon) speaks of “this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim.” Eucharistic Prayer II refers to “the memorial of his Death and Resurrection.” Since Christ’s death was sacrificial, the “memorial” makes present Christ’s sacrifice. Eucharistic Prayer III uses very strong sacrificial language, asking God, the Father, to recognize “the sacrificial Victim by whose death you willed to reconcile us to yourself” (Hostiam cujus voluisti immolatione placari). Finally, Eucharistic Prayer IV makes this petition: “Look, O Lord, upon the Sacrifice which you yourself have provided the Church.” The sacrificial character is least explicit in Eucharistic Prayer II. Unfortunately this Eucharistic Prayer seems to be the one most commonly used, even on Sundays.

  17. (I stopped reading, only because I am at work and have to get back to the grindstone.) This account diverges significantly from very zoomed-in details discussing the same topic, in Dr. Henry Sire’s “Phoenix from the Ashes: The Making, Unmaking, and Restoration of Catholic Tradition”. (I have not read “Dictator Pope”, and am unlikely to read it.) I appreciate Mr. Dugan’s attempts at fairness here. “Speak no ill of the dead.” I think that Dr. Sire’s account is fair. I am conflicted.

  18. There is more “high seriousness” at a U.S. Marine Corps graduation than there is at many (dare I say most?) celebrations of the Mass.
    The wrecking crew of the 60s gradually evacuated depth and transcendence from the Mass. The willing collaborators of the 70s continued the process.
    What we now have is a very strange melange, too often conducted by celebrants who have more in common with Rogerian psychologists or talk show hosts than anything else.
    Is it any wonder that many increasingly go to TLM, leave the Church for various forms of Protestantism or leave altogether?

  19. The statement that all Eucharistic prayers were to have identical consecration prayers did not happen. E P 2 omits , among other words and gestures, the word “BLESSED”…
    WHY? Because the prots don’t believe in blessing the bread.They believe in blessing the PEOPLE who eat the bread.(Per Fr John Wyclif in late 1300s. ) This change in meaning invalidates the CONSECRATION. THEREFORE the whole NO is compromised.
    Also, promulgated on 11/ 22/63.. The whole world was via TV absorbed in the Kennedy assassination. Kinda snuck in there wasn’t it?

  20. It is not a “stretch” to conclude that the liturgical reforms of the 60s are in part, a reason for the fact that a significant majority of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence.

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