Liturgy reformer recalls manipulation of Paul VI

The memoirs of a Vatican II theological expert closely involved in the reform of the liturgy reveal some of the machinations that took place in the process.

Frenchman Fr Louis Bouyer, who died in 2004, was appointed by Pope Paul VI to the Concilium which worked on the revised order of the Mass.

The priest’s “Memoires” were published in French earlier this year.

They formed the basis for a commentary by Vatican scribe Sandro Magister last month, in a blog for the Italian publication l’Espresso.

The memoirs were particularly scathing of the role played by Concilium secretary Annibile Bugnini, who Fr Bouyer described as “contemptible”.

Magister wrote how, according to Fr Bouyer’s memoirs, Fr Bugnini would dismiss other committee members’ concerns about certain changes by saying, “The Pope wants it so”.

Following the reforms, Fr Bouyer wrote, he was discussing one in particular with Paul VI “which the Pope had found himself approving without being in any way more content with it than I was”.

Fr Bouyer told Paul VI that he had been involved in the reform because he was told the Pope himself desired it.

But the Pope responded in turn, “but is it possible? He [Bugnini] told me that you were unanimous in approving it . . .”.

Among the incidents recalled by Fr Bouyer is the composition of Eucharistic Prayer II.

“It was Bouyer who had to fix in extremis a horrible formula of the new Second Eucharistic Prayer, from which Bugnini wished to expunge even the ‘Sanctus’,” Magister wrote.

“And one evening, on the table of a trattoria in Trastevere, he had to rewrite the text of the new canon which is read today at Mass, together with the Benedictine liturgist Bernard Botte, with the added worry of having to deliver the whole thing by the following morning.”

Pope Paul VI will be beatified by Pope Francis on October 19.


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