The general theme of the book [Annibale Bugnini, Reformer of the Liturgy, Angelico Press] could be summed up as this: Bugnini was immensely hard-working and a skilled networker, and in large bureaucracies these are the people who leave their marks upon events.
For better or worse, of course.
Anyhow, the final decree passed in Vatican Council 2 with a mere four dissenters.
However . . .
Sometimes people draw our attention to the fact that only four of the [bishops in attendance] voted against the Conciliar decree Sacrosanctum Concilium. Which is indeed an objective historical fact.
But the leap is sometimes made of implying that everything which has happened since was directly and formally mandated by the Council, so that anybody who expresses a criticism is ‘anti-Conciliar’. This is a very profound error. [emphasis
Indeed, one of the signers-on was a man who led a sharply counter-movement after the council, after the liturgical experts headed by Bugnini had gone to work:
Archbishop Lefebvre [founder of the separatist Society of St. Pius X] signed the Decree. He spent much of his distinguished life resisting the neo-Modernism of the post-Conciliar decades, but in 1965 these were the views he expressed:
“There was something to reform and to rediscover. Clearly, the first part of the Mass, which is intended to instruct the faithful and for them to expresss their faith, needed to reach these ends in a clearer and so to speak more intelligible manner. In my humble opinion, two such reforms seemed useful: first [the reform of?] the rites of that first part and also a few translations into the vernacular.
“The priest coming nearer to the faithful; communicating with them; praying and singing with them and therefore standing in the pulpit; saying the Collect, the Epistle, and the Gospel in their language; the priest singing in the divine traditional melodies the Kyrie, the Gloria, the creed with the faithful: these are so many good reforms that give back to that part of the Mass its true finality.”
Even in early stages of deciding implementation, there was the exchange of the “bold Austrian Jesuit called Hofinger,” who said there should be “no prohibition against changing . . . the Canon,” the hitherto sacrosanct center part of the mass, with his former teacher, the distinguished and learned fellow Jesuit, J A Jungmann, who made the “immediate retort”: “But those changes ought to occur only for the gravest reasons.”
. . . (1) how rapidly the entire landscape was to change. Less than a decade after these comparatively restrained scholarly debates, the Roman Canon had to all intents and purposes ceased to be used and some two or three hundred home-made “Eucharistic Prayers” were, to St Paul VI’s great consternation, in circulation.
And (2), that in 1961, neither the avant-garde, the Hofingers, nor the rear-guard, the Lefebvres, had the faintest, remotest, tiniest idea of where . . . it would all lead.
The beauty of Chiron’s book is that it “enables you to go back in time and to be a fly on the wall as the ‘experts’ . . . edged blindly forward into the quicksands and through the mist.”
The Bugnini effect was yet to be felt in all its suspect glory.