Bugnini’s Ghost, the Persisting Rumours

I won’t waste time on this one other than tipping my virtual hat to Deborah Gyapong, Fr Finigan and Fr Zuhlsdorf. I already mentioned this rumour a few months ago, which is again in the news with William Oddie’s article in the Catholic Herald 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?

I have already mentioned that I am an outsider to Roman Catholic affairs, but not indifferent to the many priests and laity who face the “return of the old guard” or being alienated from churches. The rumour of Archbishop Piero Marini being appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship was first spotted by Damian Thompson last June. Archbishop Marini is a disciple of the late Archbishop Annabile Bugnini who was in charge of the liturgical reform of the 1960’s and 70’s, and was only stopped in his tracks by Paul VI for going too far (some say it was because he was found out to be a Freemason). The above mentioned blogs, all conservative Roman Catholic, consider that such an appointment would be a kick in Pope Benedict XVI’s teeth, since it would mean a reversal or “moratorium” on his liturgical legislation in the direction of tolerance for traditionalists attached to the “extraordinary use” of the Roman rite.

One thing that makes me quite afraid is the traditionalists being unable to come up with anything original. If this rumour is true and Marini gets the job, he might think he is taking us back to the 1970’s. However we live in more cynical times and the Church is having that much more difficulty in maintaining any kind of credibility. I wrote a reflection on Pope Francis some days ago, and he has endearing qualities. I could understand him not being interested in liturgy and keeping the status quo of the Benedictine papacy – but to reverse it and deliberately alienate the traditionalists and conservatives (even with their aggressive proselytism) is something else – and indeed would send out an unambiguous message.

Whatever now happens, we as Anglican Catholics are called to a new mission, not preserving Anglicanism of the seventeenth century or ultramontanist Roman Catholic triumphalism – but preserving and fostering Catholic liturgical culture and a much wider vision than that to which many of us have become accustomed. At least as far as I am concerned, the aim would not be to have Roman Catholics come over to us, but that we should be a model of plain mainstream Catholicism as it was until the 1530’s and until the end of the eighteenth century in some parts of the world. We need to do this positively without any harshness or polemics, or any “true church” claim – just make sure that our light is visible to all.

There have been Roman Catholic traditionalist communities for more than forty years, and they cater for their faithful as we Continuing Anglicans do. Some call themselves Continuing Catholics. It is unfortunate that many are still influenced by Ultramontanist ecclesiology, and thus find it difficult to justify their dissidence.

All we can do is continue and persevere, however hopeless it all may seem. As our fake wartime mugs and beer mats say – Keep calm and carry on!

* * *

For information, see Explosive revelation: Benedict XVI himself sees Francis’ restriction of the Traditional Mass for the Franciscans of the Immaculate as a “wound” to Summorum Pontificum.

What a mess!

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7 Responses to Bugnini’s Ghost, the Persisting Rumours

  1. Dale says:

    Personally, I do not think that traditional western liturgy is any safer in Rome than it is in Byzantium; it may soon be that the only home for those of us who love our ancient heritage will be within continuing Anglicanism.

  2. Stephen K says:

    Dear Father Anthony, I think you are both right and wrong: right to see your mission as reflecting and expressing a pre-Reformational English Catholicism, but wrong to shed a single heartbeat of anxiety or consternation at the appointment of a non-traditionalist to supervise liturgy in the Roman Church. Forget about extremists or fanatics: they are everywhere and in all times. Even bog-standard traditionalists or bog-standard progressives can be as bullying or doctrinaire as their opponents! So why should you worry on behalf of any of them? Seriously. People have to step up to their own mark. If they care about liturgy or piety forms they will either practise them, or argue passionately about them or both! If they don’t what’s the worry? I’ll take some traditional forms but not all; I’ll ascribe to progressive theology in some respects but not all. My neighbour prefers the purple jelly beans. At the moment, as far as we can see, Pope Francis is ushering in a different style and emphasis than his predecessor: thus will it ever be, and I say ‘thank heavens!’: it shows no-one is the last word. And, for my money, the obsession with leaders and what they say or do, in any sphere, is only a symptom of our childish dependency, not of independence and responsibility.

    For me, Pope Francis is just another book on the library shelf. I may or may not read him now or in full any more than I read his predecessor. I’m still working my head through William Barclay, Thomas Merton and the Bible! Pax.

    • I hesitated about picking up on this rumour. There are plenty of them about. One thing I have discovered is that we have to go out and get what we want and never mind what other people prefer, if whether for them Christianity is over and washed out. We can no longer be dependent on anyone – whether in the Church or any other area of life – politics, business or anything. We have to make our own way.

      Personally, Benedict XVI concerned me no more than Francis or the very end of John Paul II’s time. They make the tide rise and ebb like in politics. We get a conservative in one election and then we get a socialist in the next.

      The feeling I get about the present world, and many others too, is that we are tired of this oscillation between the forces of “conservatism” and “progress”, and something big needs to happen to reboot the whole system. It happened in 1789 in France, 1917 in Russia and 1933 in Germany – many evils happened and we live with it ever since. But, as you say, we can only look after ourselves and let it all go over our heads.

      Going out in the boat does a lot of good! 🙂

  3. Patricius says:

    You could, of course, give up thinking that liturgy, tradition, anamnesis and ecclesiology are actually alive and well, and take up the impartial study of Christianity. I still find it irksome to read many books about Christianity, and certainly blogs are no different, but a general rule of thumb about life is that if you expect the worst, you won’t feel disappointed when the worst actually transpires. Why should liturgical tradition be an exception to this rule? Liturgy is a dead horse; it survives only in manuscripts from the Middle Ages; the rest is either ghosts of your imagination or vulgar immitations carried out by mainstream churches.

    I had a revelation about popular scapegoats when I was a student. Until I was 19 I thought that George Tyrrell was a monster whose works were rightly condemned by a great pope of sound mind. That myth was dispelled when I read Tyrrell’s letters and found them to be the work of a gentleman and a scholar. His subsequent treatment by Pius X was abysmal. Because Tyrrell had challenged Scholasticism as the only acceptable mode of Christian science and philosophy, he was stripped of all sacerdotal privileges, the sacraments and denied Christian burial. Bugnini is no different. Bugnini may have been brutally honest in his Reform of the Roman Liturgy but his intentions were those of a man beset on all sides by concern and indignation. What could be more irksome to a reasonable Christian than the sight of peasants sitting in pews in churches mumbling in a language they don’t understand? Whatever violence was done to the Liturgy in the 20th century, it was by no means Bugnini’s fault; he was but a servant or emissary. The entire tradition was brought down by Papal command. That is your problem; the pope. This one man is the answer to all the questions, he holds all the keys to all the doors, he is the chief Pharisee standing in the way of our entry into Christ’s Kingdom. Do away with this pestilential institution and we’d be laughing.

    But that’s not going to happen, is it?

    • Nice to hear from you, Patricius. In a certain way, liturgical tradition is still alive in a few monasteries and with priests who say a daily solitary Mass and no one cares what he does. I have a tremendous amount of esteem for Fr Tyrrell and his so-called “Modernism”. Enter the word Modernism in the search engine of my blog, and you will find me very sympathetic to the kind of thing Tyrrell wrote, or for that matter the Baron von Hügel. All part of that wonderful reaction against the “heavy orthodoxy” (as Oscar Wilde put it) of the nineteenth century. I have read about the life of Tyrrell, and found an enormous amount of sympathy for this good and spirited Irishman who lacked the polished tact of Newman.

      Maybe, Pope Francis is in a way doing away with a certain vision of the Papacy. Maybe.

      That is your problem; the pope.

      Certainly not my problem, because I belong to a Church that isn’t in communion with Rome.

      All the same, it is good to hear from you.

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