From the late Michael Davies' book, The Liturgical Time Bombs of Vatican II:
The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Annibale Bugnini
Before discussing the time bombs in the Council texts, more specifically those in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which would lead to the destruction of the Roman Rite, it is necessary to examine the role of Annibale Bugnini, the individual most responsible for placing them there and detonating them after the Constitution had won the approval of the Council Fathers. Annibale Bugnini was born in Civitella de Lego (Italy) in 1912. He began his theological studies in the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians) in 1928 and was ordained in this Order in 1936. For ten years he did parish work in a Roman suburb, and then, from 1947 to 1957, was involved in writing and editing the missionary publications of his Order. In 1947, he also began his active involvement in the field of specialized liturgical studies when he began a twenty-year period as the director of Ephemerides liturgicae, one of Italy’s best-known liturgical publications. He contributed to numerous scholarly publications, wrote articles on the liturgy for various encyclopaedias and dictionaries, and had a number of books published on both the scholarly and popular level. Father Bugnini was appointed Secretary to Pope Pius XII’s Commission for Liturgical Reform in 1948. In 1949 he was made a Professor of Liturgy in the Pontifical Propaganda Fide (Propagation of the Faith) University; in 1955 he received a similar appointment in the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music; he was appointed a Consultor to the Sacred Congregation of Rites in 1956; and in 1957 he was appointed Professor of Sacred Liturgy in the Lateran University. In 1960, Father Bugnini was placed in a position which enabled him to exert an important, if not decisive, influence upon the history of the Church: he was appointed Secretary to the Preparatory Commission on the Liturgy for the Second Vatican Council.
He was the moving spirit behind the drafting of the preparatory schema (plural schemata), the draft document which was to be placed before the Council Fathers for discussion. Carlo Falconi, an “ex-priest” who has left the Church but keeps in close contact with his friends in the Vatican, refers to the preparatory schema as “the Bugnini draft.” It is of the greatest possible importance to bear in mind the fact that, as was stressed in 1972 in Father Bugnini’s own journal, Notitiae (official journal of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship), the Liturgy Constitution that the Council Fathers eventually passed was substantially identical to the draft schema which he had steered through the Preparatory Commission. According to Father P. M. Gy, O.P., a French liturgist who was a consultor to the pre-conciliar Commission on the Liturgy, Father Bugnini “was a happy choice as secretary”: He had been secretary of the commission for reform set up by Pius XII. He was a gifted organizer and possessed an open-minded, pastoral spirit. Many people noted how, with Cardinal Cicognani, he was able to imbue the discussion with the liberty of spirit recommended by Pope John XXIII.
The Bugnini schema was accepted by a plenary session of the Liturgical Preparatory Commission in a vote taken on January 13, 1962. But the President of the Commission, the eighty-year old Cardinal Gaetano Cicognani, had the foresight to realize the dangers implicit in certain passages. Father Gy writes: “The program of reform was so vast that it caused the president, Cardinal Gaetano Cicognani, to hesitate.” Unless the Cardinal could be persuaded to sign the schema, it would be blocked. It could not go through without his signature, even though it had been approved by a majority of the Commission. Father Bugnini needed to act. He arranged for immediate approaches to be made to Pope John, who agreed to intervene. He called for Cardinal Amleto Cicognani, his Secretary of State and the younger brother of the President of the Preparatory Commission, and told him to visit his brother and not return until the schema had been signed. The Cardinal complied: Later a peritus of the Liturgical Preparatory Commission stated that the old Cardinal was almost in tears as he waved the document in the air and said: “They want me to sign this but I don’t know if I want to.” Then he laid the document on his desk, picked up a pen, and signed it. Four days later he died.
The First Fall
The Bugnini schema had been saved—and only just in time. Then, with the approval of Pope John XXIII, Father Bugnini was dismissed from his chair at the Lateran University and from the secretaryship of the Conciliar Liturgical Commission which was to oversee the schema during the conciliar debates. The reasons which prompted Pope John to take this step have not been divulged, but they must have been of a most serious nature to cause this tolerant Pontiff to act in so public and drastic a manner against a priest who had held such an influential position in the preparation for the Council. In his book The Reform of the Liturgy, which to a large extent is an apologia for himself and a denunciation of his critics, Bugnini blames Cardinal Arcadio Larraona for his downfall. He writes of himself in the third person: Of all the secretaries of the preparatory commissions, Father Bugnini was the only one not appointed secretary to the corresponding conciliar commission . . . This was Father Bugnini’s first exile.
At the same time that Father Bugnini was dismissed from the secretariat of the conciliar commission, he was also discharged from his post as teacher of liturgy in the Pontifical Pastoral Institute of the Lateran University, and an attempt was made to take from him the chair of liturgy at the Pontifical Urban University. This repressive activity emanated directly from Cardinal Larraona and was very kindly seconded by some fellow workers who wanted better to serve the Church and the liturgy. The basis for the dismissals was the charge of being a “progressivist,” “pushy,” and an “iconoclast” (innuendos whispered half-aloud), accusations then echoed in turn by the Congregation of Rites, the Congregation of Seminaries, and the Holy Office. But no proof was offered, no clear justification for such serious measures. Bugnini’s claim that “no proof was offered” is simply a gratuitous assertion on his part. The fact that he saw no proof in no way proves that it did not exist. Falconi condemns the dismissal of Father Bugnini as a retrograde step, but adds: All the same, Bugnini managed to get his draft through as far as the Council, and now it will be interesting to see if it is passed, and even more so if the draft schema of the proscribed Secretary of the Liturgical Commission should open the way for the success of other drafts of a progressive character.
The dismissal of Father Bugnini was very much a case of locking the stable door after the horse had bolted. It would have helped Father Bugnini’s cause had he been appointed Secretary to the Conciliar Commission (the post was given to Father Ferdinand Antonelli, O.F.M.), as he could then have guided his schema through the Council—but this was not essential. It was the schema that mattered. Seventy-five preparatory schemata had been prepared for the Council Fathers, the fruits of the most painstaking and meticulous preparation for a Council in the history of the Church. The number was eventually reduced to twenty, and seven were selected for discussion at the first session of the Council. The Bugnini schema was the fifth of these, and it was presumed by most bishops that the schemata would be debated in their numerical sequence. But the other schemata were so orthodox that the liberals could not accept them—even as a basis for discussion. At the instigation of Father Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., a Belgian-born Professor of Dogmatics at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, the schemata were rejected with one exception— the Bugnini schema. This, he said, was “an admirable piece of work.” It was announced at the second general congregation of the Council on October 16, 1962, that the sacred liturgy was the first item on the agenda for examination by the Fathers. Notitiae looked back on this with considerable satisfaction in 1972, remarking that the Bugnini preparatory schema was the only one that was eventually passed without substantial alteration. Father Wiltgen comments:
It should be noted that the liturgical movement had been active in Europe for several decades, and that quite a large number of bishops and periti from the Rhine countries had been appointed by Pope John to the preparatory commission on the liturgy. As a result, they had succeeded in inserting their ideas into the schema and gaining approval for what they considered a very acceptable document.
As for the other schemata, one prominent Council Father, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, wrote:
Now you know what happened at the Council. A fortnight after its opening not one of the prepared schemata remained, not one! All had been turned down, all had been condemned to the wastepaper basket. Nothing remained, not a single sentence. All had been thrown out.
Bugnini’s allies who had worked with him on preparing the schema now had the task of securing its acceptance by the bishops without any substantial alterations. They did so with a degree of success that certainly exceeded the hopes of their wildest dreams. They seem to have presumed that the bishops would be a bunch of “useful idiots,” men who preferred to laugh rather than to think. “It was all good fun,” wrote Archbishop R. J. Dwyer, one of the most erudite of the American bishops. “And when the vote came round, like wise Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.M., ‘We always voted at our party’s call; we never thought of thinking for ourselves at all.’ That way you can save yourself a whole world of trouble.” The Bugnini schema received the almost unanimous approval of the Council Fathers on December 7, 1962 and became Vatican II’s “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” (CSL). But the Constitution contained no more than general guidelines; therefore, to achieve total victory, Father Bugnini and his cohorts needed to obtain the power to interpret and implement it.
The Second Rise
The Rhine Group (In the Preface to The Rhine Flows into the Tiber (p. 1), Father Wiltgen explains that the “predominant influence” during the Second Vatican Council came from Council Fathers and periti (experts) from the “countries along the Rhine river—Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands—and from nearby Belgium. Because this group exerted a predominant influence over the Second Vatican Council, I have titled my book The Rhine Flows into the Tiber.” This is certainly the most informative book written on what really happened at Vatican II, and it should be owned by every Catholic taking a serious interest in events since the Council. The six countries named were those in which the Liturgical Movement had been most active and in which liberal ideas were most manifest.) pressed for the establishment of postconciliar commissions with the authority to interpret the CSL. It “feared that the progressive measures adopted by the Council might be blocked by conservative forces near the Pope once the Council Fathers had returned home.” Cardinal Heenan, of Westminster, England, had warned of the danger if the Council periti were given the power to interpret the Council to the world. “God forbid that this should happen!” he told the others. This was just what did happen. The members of these commissions were “chosen with the Pope’s approval, for the most part, from the ranks of the Council periti. The task of the commissions is to put into effect the Council decrees . . . and, when necessary, to interpret the Council institutions, decrees, and declarations.” On March 5, 1964, l’Osservatore Romano announced the establishment of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy, which became known as the Consilium. The initial membership consisted mainly of members of the Commission that had drafted the Constitution. Father Bugnini was appointed to the position of Secretary of the Consilium on February 29, 1964. What prompted Pope Paul VI to appoint Bugnini to this crucially important position after he had been prevented by Pope John XXIII from becoming Secretary of the Conciliar Commission is probably something that we shall never know.
In theory, the Consilium was an advisory body, and the reforms it devised had to be implemented by either the Sacred Congregation for Rites or the Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments. These congregations had been established as part of Pope Paul’s reform of the Roman Curia, promulgated on August 15, 1967. Father Bugnini’s influence as Secretary of the Consilium was increased when he was appointed Under-Secretary to the Sacred Congregation for Rites.33 On May 8, 1969, Pope Paul promulgated the Apostolic Constitution Sacra Rituum Congregatio, which ended the existence of the Consilium as a separate body; it was incorporated into the newly established Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship as a special commission which would retain its members and consultors and remain until the reform of the liturgy had been completed. Notitiae, official journal of the Consilium, became the journal of the new Congregation. Father Annibale Bugnini was appointed Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and became more powerful than ever. It is certainly no exaggeration to claim that what in fact had happened was that the Consilium, in other words Father Bugnini, had taken over the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. The April-June 1969 issue of Notitiae announced Father Bugnini’s appointment, stating: This number of Notitiae appears under the direction of the new Congregation for Divine Worship. Pope Paul VI, at the end of the 28 April Consistory, made the announcement and gave it an official character with the Apostolic Constitution “Sacred Congregation of Rites” of 8 May. The new Congregation will continue on a firmer juridical foundation, with more effectiveness and renewed commitment, the work accomplished by the Consilium in the past five years, linking itself with the Council, its preparatory commission, and the entire liturgical movement . . . The Consilium continues as a particular commission of the Congregation until the completion of the reform.
Father Bugnini was now in the most influential position possible to consolidate and extend the revolution behind which he had been the moving spirit and the principle of continuity. Nominal heads of commissions, congregations, and the Consilium came and went—Cardinal Lercaro, Cardinal Gut, Cardinal Tabera, Cardinal Knox—but Father Bugnini always remained. He attributed this to the Divine Will: “The Lord willed that from those early years a whole series of providential circumstances should thrust me fully, and indeed in a privileged way, in medias res, and that I should remain there in charge of the secretariat.” His services would be rewarded by his being consecrated a bishop and then being elevated to the rank of Titular Archbishop of Dioclentiana, as announced on January 7, 1972. The Imposition of the New Rite of Mass What the experts were planning had already been made clear on October 24, 1967 in the Sistine Chapel, when what was described as the Missa Normativa was celebrated before the Synod of Bishops by Father Annibale Bugnini himself, its chief architect. Since he had been appointed secretary of the post-Vatican II Liturgy Commission, he had the power to orchestrate the composition of the New Rite of Mass which he had envisaged in the schema that he had prepared before his dismissal by John XXIII—the schema which had been passed virtually unchanged by the Council Fathers. As already remarked, why Pope Paul VI appointed to this key position a man who had been dismissed by his predecessor is a mystery which will probably never be answered.
Fewer than half the bishops present voted in favor of the Missa Normativa, but the far-from-satisfied majority was ignored with the arrogance which was to become the most evident characteristic of the liturgical establishment, to which the Council Fathers had been naive enough to entrust the implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The Missa Normativa would be imposed on Catholics of the Roman Rite by Pope Paul VI in 1969, with a few changes, as the Novus Ordo Missae: the New Order of Mass. In 1974 Archbishop Bugnini explained that his reform had been divided into four stages—firstly, the transition from Latin to the vernacular; secondly, the reform of the liturgical books; thirdly, the translation of the liturgical books; and fourthly, the adaptation or “incarnation” of the Roman form of the liturgy into the usages and mentality of each individual Church. This process (which would mean the complete elimination of any remaining vestiges of the Roman Rite) had already begun, he claimed, and would be “pursued with ever increasing care and preparation.’’ At the very moment when his power had reached its zenith, Archbishop Bugnini was in effect dismissed— this was his second fall—to the dismay of liberal Catholics throughout the world. What happened was that the Archbishop’s entire Congregation was dissolved and merged with the Congregation for the Sacraments under the terms of Pope Paul’s Apostolic Constitution Constans Nobis, published in l’ Osservatore Romano (English edition) of July 31, 1975. The new congregation was entitled the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship. The name Bugnini did not appear in the list of appointments. Liberals throughout the world were dismayed. The Tablet, in England, and its extreme liberal counterpart in the United States, the National Catholic Reporter, carried an indignant report by Desmond O’Grady:
Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, who, as Secretary of the abolished Congregation for Divine Worship, was the key figure in the Church’s liturgical reform, is not a member of the new Congregation. Nor, despite his lengthy experience was he consulted in the planning of it. He heard of its creation while on holiday at Fiuggi . . . the abrupt way in which this was done does not augur well for the Bugnini line of encouragement for reform in collaboration with local hierarchies. . . Msgr. Bugnini conceived the next ten years’ work as concerned principally with the incorporation of local usages into the liturgy . . . He represented the continuity of the post-conciliar liturgical reform.
L’Osservatore Romano carried the following announcement in its English edition, on January 15, 1976:
“5 January: The Holy Father has appointed Apostolic Pro Nuncio in Iran His Excellency the Most Reverend Annibale Bugnini, C. M., titular Archbishop of Dioclentiana.”
This was clearly an artificial post created to gloss over the fact that the Archbishop had been banished. In his book The Devastated Vineyard, published in 1973, Dietrich von Hildebrand rightly observed concerning Bugnini that: “Truly, if one of the devils in C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy, he could not have done it better.” This is a statement based on an objective assessment of the reform itself. It is beyond dispute that whether or not the Roman Rite has been destroyed deliberately, it has been destroyed. (See pages 69-70 herein.) If this result is simply the consequence of ill-judged decisions by well-meaning men, the objective fact remains unchanged: they could not have destroyed the Roman Rite more effectively had they done so deliberately.
But the thoroughness of the destruction caused many to wonder whether it might be more than the result of ill-considered policies. It came as no great surprise when, in April of 1976, Tito Casini, Italy’s leading Catholic writer, publicly accused Archbishop Bugnini of being a Freemason. On October 8, 1976, Le Figaro published a report stating that Archbishop Bugnini denied ever having had any Masonic affiliation. I have made my own investigation into the affair and can vouch for the authenticity of the following facts. A Roman priest of the very highest reputation came into possession of evidence which he considered proved Archbishop Bugnini to be a Freemason. He had this information placed into the hands of Pope Paul VI with the warning that if action were not taken at once, he would be bound in conscience to make the matter public. Archbishop Bugnini was then removed by means of the dissolution of his entire Congregation. I have verified these facts directly with the priest concerned, and the full facts can be found in Chapter XXIV of my book Pope Paul’s New Mass. An important distinction must be made here. I have not claimed that I can prove Archbishop Bugnini to have been a Mason, but that Pope Paul VI dismissed him and exiled him to Iran because he had been convinced that the Archbishop was a Mason. I made this same point in a letter published in the January 1980 Homiletic and Pastoral Review, which prompted a violent attack upon me by Archbishop Bugnini in the May 1980 issue. He denied that any of the prelates who, since Vatican II, had been accused of Masonic affiliation “ever had anything to do with Freemasonry,” and he continued:
And for Michael Davies it would be enough. [sic] But for him and his colleagues, calumniators by profession . . . I repeat what I wrote in 1976: “I do not own anything in this world more precious than the pectoral cross: if one is able to prove honestly, objectively, an iota of truth of what they affirm, I am ready to return back the pectoral cross.”
But, as I have already stated, I did not accuse him of being a Mason but simply pointed out that Pope Paul VI had been convinced that this was the case, and the fact that this does not constitute calumny is proved by the fact that Bugnini conceded precisely what I had alleged in his book The Reform of the Liturgy. Referring to his removal from his position by Pope Paul VI and the suppression of the Congregation for Divine Worship, he wrote:
What were the reasons that led the Pope to such a drastic decision, which no one expected and which lay so heavily on the Church? I said in the preface to this book that I myself never knew any of these reasons for sure, even though, understandably in the distress of the moment, I knocked on many doors at all levels . . . There were those who ascribed the change to the “authoritarian,” “almost dictatorial” way in which the secretary of the congregation supposedly managed the agency, not allowing freedom of movement to his own co-workers and limiting the role even of the cardinal prefects. But when all is said and done, all this seems to be the stuff of ordinary administrative life. There must have been something more earthshaking. Toward the end of the summer a cardinal who was usually no enthusiast for the liturgical reform told me of the existence of a “dossier” which he had seen on (or brought to?) the Pope’s desk and which proved that Archbishop Bugnini was a Freemason.
(In a footnote commenting on these complaints made by members of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Bugnini comments: “Human deficiencies are always possible, of course, but the accusation reflects a mentality that was periodically revived among officials of the Congregation who out of ambition or defects of character, were determined to create difficulties for the secretary.” This remark is typical of his insistence throughout the book that no criticism made of him can ever be justified and that those who make these criticisms have bad motives.)
An Unsuspected Blueprint for Revolution
Although one is not supposed to speak ill of the dead—de mortuis nil nisi bonum (literally, “of the dead, nothing except good”), in an historical study such as this, objectivity demands that it be made clear that truth was not a priority with Archbishop Bugnini. In an attempt to play down the role played by the Protestant observers in his liturgical revolution, he stated: “They never intervened in the discussions and never asked to speak.” As is made clear in Appendix I, this is highly misleading. There is not the least doubt that the Second Vatican Council was a cause of great satisfaction to Protestants. In their final message to the Council, read by Archbishop Felici on December 4, 1965, the Observer-delegates enlarged on this theme: “Blessed be God for all that he has given us so far through the Holy Spirit, and for all that he will give us in the future.” Oscar Cullmann, the noted Swiss theologian, summed up their thoughts when he declared: “The hopes of Protestants for Vatican II have not only been fulfilled, but the Council’s achievements have gone far beyond what was believed possible.” The late Monsignor Klaus Gamber was described by Cardinal Ratzinger as “the one scholar who, among the army of pseudo-liturgists, truly represents the liturgical thinking of the center of the Church.” As regards the attitude the Council Fathers would have taken to the changes that have been foisted upon us in the name of Vatican II, Monsignor Gamber informs us in his book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy that: “One statement we can make with certainty is that the new Ordo of the Mass that has now emerged would not have been endorsed by the majority of the Council Fathers.”
Why then did these bishops endorse the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy? Professor Louis Salleron has been cited as stating that the CSL appeared to be the crowning achievement of the work of liturgical renewal which had been in progress for a hundred years. Why could this have appeared to be the case when, in fact, the CSL was a blueprint for revolution? The 1,922 bishops who cast their placet (“Yes”) votes for the Constitution on December 7, 1962 would certainly have been reassured by stipulations it contained which gave the impression that there was no possibility of any radical liturgical reform. Article 4 of the CSL certainly gives the impression that there is no danger of any drastic change in any of the existing rites of Mass, among which the Roman Rite was clearly paramount: “This most sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal authority and dignity: that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way.” (Emphasis added.) But these reassuring words are qualified by the additional directive of the Council that “where necessary the rites be carefully and thoroughly revised in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances of modern times.” No explanation is given as to how it is possible both to preserve and foster these rites and, at the same time, to revise them to meet certain unspecified circumstances and unspecified needs of modern times. Nor is it explained how such a revision could be carried out in the light of sound tradition when it had been the sound and invariable tradition of the Roman Rite never to undertake any drastic revision of its rites, a tradition of well over 1,000 years’ standing, which had been breached only during the Protestant Reformation, when every heretical sect devised new rites to correspond with its heretical teachings. Article 23 of the CSL requires that, in order to maintain “sound tradition,” a careful investigation is to be made before revising any part of the liturgy. “This investigation should be theological, historical and pastoral.” If this were not reassuring enough, Article 23 also mandates that:
“There must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them, and care must be taken that any new forms should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”
It is an instructive exercise to go, step by step, through the changes which have been made in the Mass, beginning with the abolition of the Judica me and ending with the abolition of the Last Gospel, or even the Prayers for the Conversion of Russia, and to consider carefully why the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required that each particular change must be made. Has the good of the Church really been enhanced because the faithful have been forbidden to kneel at the Incarnatus est during the Creed? Did the good of the Church genuinely, certainly, require that the doctrinally rich Offertory prayers should be abolished? To illustrate this doctrinal richness, just one of these prayers, the Suscipe, sancte Pater, will be examined within the context of a commentary by Father Pius Parsch, one of the best known figures of the liturgical movement. (Footnote: It is sad to note that at the same time he was writing such an orthodox and even inspiring exposition of the Mass (in the 1950’s), Father Parsch was taking part in unauthorized liturgical experiments.)
Having recited the Offertory verse, the priest unveils the chalice, takes the paten with the host of unleavened bread upon it, and, raising it up to about the level of his eyes, offers it to God with the prayer Suscipe, sancte Pater: “Receive, O Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God, this spotless host which I, Thy unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for mine own countless sins, offences and negligences, and for all here present; as also for all faithful Christians, living or dead, that it may avail for my own and for their salvation unto life everlasting. Amen.” This prayer—the richest in content of any of this part of the Mass—contains a whole world of dogmatic truth. Who is it that offers the sacrifice? It is the priest as representative of Christ: “which I, Thy unworthy servant, offer.” To whom? To the Father, all-holy, God Almighty, “the living and true God.” What does he offer? “This spotless Victim.” He offers the bread, but the expression hostia immaculata shows that the thoughts of the priest in this prayer do not rest there. This bread which he holds in his hands is as yet neither hostia (victim) nor, properly speaking, immaculata. Yet already he has its destiny in mind. It is to become the Eucharist, the Hostia immaculata in very truth, a consummation already anticipated in thought. And for whom is it offered? In atonement for the “innumerable sins, offences and negligences” of the priest himself. These terms are, of course, synonymous. The liturgy frequently uses such accumulative expressions to deepen the impression upon our minds. It is offered too for “all those present” (circumstantes—standing around the altar of sacrifice), and beyond them, for all Christians “living or dead.” All will benefit by the sacrifice which has as its final purpose “that it may avail for my own and for their salvation unto life everlasting.” The final purpose of the Mass is, therefore, the same as that of the Sacrifice of the Cross: the salvation of all mankind. This prayer, so rich in doctrine, could serve as the basis for an entire treatise on the Mass.
How can it possibly be argued that the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required the abolition of this sublime prayer? Has any Catholic anywhere in the world become more fervent in his faith as a result of its absence? Those in the Church obsessed by false ecumenism would certainly have argued that this prayer, and other prayers removed from the Mass by the sixteenth-century Protestant heretics, must be removed from the Mass to avoid offence to our Protestant brethren. Luther referred to
“all that abomination called the offertory. And from this point almost everything stinks of oblation. Therefore casting aside all that savours of oblation with the entire canon, let us keep those things which are pure and holy.”
The entire Canon was indeed cast aside by Bugnini and his Consilium—but it was restored, to their regret, on the insistence of Pope Paul VI. It would be most enlightening to be told the exact process by which, for example, the new Offertory prayers (based on a Jewish form of grace before meals) grew from “forms already existing.” The Consilium presumably interpreted this phrase as meaning already existing in the liturgy of any religion. There is a most bitter irony in another admonition contained in Article 23: “As far as possible, notable differences between the rites used in adjacent regions are to be carefully avoided.” Today it is hard to recognize that some adjacent parishes even belong to the same religion, so great is the contrast between their respective modes of celebrating Mass.
Clauses such as Article 4 and Article 23 would certainly have reassured the bishops that there would be no radical changes in the liturgy of the Mass, but there were other clauses which did indeed open the way to radical or even revolutionary change. Archbishop Lefebvre was in no doubt as to the nature of these clauses. He stated: “There were time bombs in the Council.”50 These “time bombs” were ambiguous passages inserted in the official documents by the liberal periti or experts—passages which would be interpreted in an untraditional, progressivist sense after the Council closed. The answer to Cardinal Ottaviani’s question as to whether the Council Fathers were planning a revolution (see page 1) is that the majority of the Fathers, the 3,000 bishops,51 most certainly were not, but that some of the influential periti, the experts who accompanied the bishops to Rome, definitely had this intention.