THE MAN BEHIND THE NOVUS ORDO LITURGICAL CURTAIN
What every Catholic should know about Annibale Bugnini
By John Grasmeier
Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit: according to the
tradition of men according to the elements of the world and not according to
Up until the socially turbulent
1960s, the Mass Catholics celebrated had barely changed over the preceding 500
years. Before then, the development of the order of the Mass was the result of divine inspiration and painstaking refinement
undertaken with great care over many centuries. The very liturgical
celebration that altered human existence was an
organic development that began with the very first Mass given by Our Lord at the last
supper, then was slowly and wisely refined through the centuries by our church
fathers, popes, councils and saints.
"The most beautiful thing this side of heaven" was
cataclysmically revolutionized in just a few short years by a handful of new thinkers.
One stalwart architect of this liturgical revolution was a man by the
name of Annibale Bugnini, who was the guiding light and "main man" responsible for this
enormous sea change in Catholic liturgy.
Life of Liturgy
As a career liturgist, very little of Mr. Bugnini’s vocation was spent "flock
tending". Born in Italy in 1912 he became an ordained priest in 1936 at the age of 24.
After only 10 years of parish duties, he began liturgical studies and shortly
thereafter, in 1948, was appointed by Pope Pius XII to be the secretary of his Commission for
Liturgical Reform. He became Consulter to the Sacred Congregation of
Rites and Professor of Sacred Liturgy in the Lateran University in 1956 and 1957
He gained an influential toehold in 1960 when he was appointed Secretary to the
Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy. In 1962, he able to use this position to bring to fruition what
became known as "The Bugnini Schema". The Bugnini Schema was the liturgical draft
document that wound up being nearly identical to what was later adopted by the Liturgy
Constitution. The rapid development of the Novus Ordo Mass was now well under way.
Only a few short months after this apparent victory, Bugnini was
mysteriously and promptly removed from both his position as secretary of the
commission and his chair at the Lateran University. This unprecedented move
would not have happened without the full consent of Pope John XXIII, or without
the (to this day unknown) offense being extraordinarily egregious. No explanation was ever
disclosed as to reason for Bugnini’s sudden removal.
In 1964, a commission called "The Consilium"
was established to implement the Second Vatican Council document on the Sacred Liturgy (passed in 1963 by the
Council Fathers). Inexplicably, Pope Paul VI appointed Bugnini to the position
of secretary of the Consilium, disregarding his predecessor John XXIII, who had removed him from
the same position on the preparatory commission. Incredibly, Bugnini would now
be in charge of interpreting the very same liturgy constitution of which he was
instrumental in creating.
In 1969 Paul VI ended the separate nature of the Consilium by dissolving it
and making it part of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship (which
ironically only 6
years later he would suppress) and appointed Bugnini as its secretary. Bugnini
was now in the most powerful position possible to ensure
implementation of his brainchild. Three years later, in 1972, he was consecrated
as an Archbishop.
In what Bugnini describes in his autobiography as an "earth shaking"
he was once again summarily dismissed from his duties, this time by Pope Paul
VI. The Congregation of Divine Worship was
suppressed and Bugnini was "exiled" to Iran in a sensational move that
immediately and permanently ended his career. Once
again under mysterious and unexplained circumstances, the main architect of the
Novus Ordo Mass was harshly rebuked and essentially fired from all
duties of any significance.
Further facts regarding Mr. Bugnini
In March of 1965, in the periodical L'Osservatore Romano, Bugnini was
quoted as saying: "We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the
Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our
separated brethren that is for the Protestants." In 1974 preceding his second downfall, Bugnini proudly proclaimed Vatican II
to be a "major conquest of the Catholic Church".
This article has not gone into any depth
regarding some of the existing subjective evidence implicating Bugnini as a Freemason.
Although disturbing data does exist to support the contention, it can't be said
that it has been proven beyond all doubt. Suffice to say that whatever the
reason behind Bugnini's two abrupt dismissals by two separate pontiffs, the
offense or offenses must have been extraordinarily grave for a prelate in his
position to receive such a harsh rebuke. To whit, neither Bugnini nor the
Vatican have shed any light on the specific reasons behind either of his
There is much we don't know concerning the late
archbishop. What is certain however is that the most central element of
worldwide Catholicism - the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - was revolutionized
nearly single-handedly by
disgraced and dubious man. One Annibale Bugnini.