23 June 2015

Blessed Paul VI

I wish to propose a theory about Blessed Paul VI for which, currently, I can adduce some evidence; I wonder if there is more.


(1) He relied upon dishonest people for advice. (a) From the Memoires of Louis Bouyer: "At different stages, be it with regard to the dumping overboard (sabordage) of the Liturgy of the Departed, or again in that unbelievable enterprise of expurgating the psalms in view of their use in the Office, Bugnini came up against an opposition, not just massive, but one could say pretty well unanimous. In some such cases, he did not hesitate to tell us 'But the Pope wants it!'. After that, to be sure, there was no longer a question of discussing it." Bouyer recounts how he once met Bugnini in circumstances in which the latter, mistakenly, believed that he, Bouyer, had just been with Pope Paul ... whom Bugnini was on his way to see. "On seeing me, he not only turned completely white but, visibly, was knocked for six (non seulement il blemit, mais, visiblement, il fut atterre)". "The answer was to be presented to me, but some weeks later, by Paul VI himself. Nattering with me about our famous labours, which he had confirmed, he finally said to me 'But why, then, did you put into this reform ...' (Here, I have to admit that I don't recall any longer which of the details which I have mentioned particularly irritated him.) Naturally, I replied 'But purely and simply because Bugnini guaranteed to us that you were absolutely set on it (avait certifie que vous le vouliez absolument).' His reaction was immediate: 'Is it possible? He said to me personally that you were unanimous in this respect!'".
(b) Bishop Tissier's biography recounts that when Archbishop Lefebvre was received in audience by the Pope, Paul VI was hostile from the start. It transpired that he had been informed, probably by Cardinal Villot, that the Archbishop made the priests whom he formed "sign an oath against the Pope". Given such shameless mendacity, it is hardly surprising that the Holy Father's mind was poisoned against Lefebvre.

(2) Blessed Paul VI preferred to compromise with disorder rather than to face it down. It seems clear, from Dom Cassian Folsom's Adoremus series of articles, that the provision of alternative Eucharistic Prayers was a pathetic but well-meant attempt to rein in the chaos which existed particularly in the Low Countries, where home-made Eucharistic Prayers were proliferating in (literally) hundreds. He was assured that the Hierarchy, given this concession, were prepared to restore order. (Big of them ... Traditionalists would also do well to remember that it was the provision of these alternatives which saved the Canon itself from being mangled ... better, surely, to be unused for a few decades than permanently debased?)

As well as the human and historical tragedy, there is an ecclesiological point here. If you blend together in one saucepan an exaggerated notion of papal authority (as analysed by Joseph Ratzinger) with the activities (described in detail by Louis Bouyer) of unscrupulous and dishonest and ruthlessly determined manipulative individuals who have the pope's ear, you are gravely at risk of having a disaster the results of which it may well take generations to mitigate. Quod factum est.


ChrisB said...

It will be a great service to the church when Bouyer's book is translated into English.

ChrisB said...

It will be a great service to the church when Bouyer's book is translated into English.

Grumpy Beggar said...

Whether there is more evidence would almost seem to be a given . The availability of such evidence , or facility in discovering/procuring it might be the more difficult matter. But the source of evidence you are citing, Padre - the memoirs of Fr. Louis Bouyer himself , would have to rank first in the order of credibility and reliability. Who better than Fr. Bouyer would know ?

Your theory would appear to find confirmation in this CNA article The liturgical reform, as seen by one of its protagonists .

The article, quoting Sandro Magister , claims Cardinal Bugnini wanted to go so far as even to remove the Sanctus from the second Eucharistic prayer.

“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.

What in the world could he have been thinking ? Which god could he have possibly thought he was serving ? It boggles the mind.

Pastor Peters said...

So what does it say to Francis today and the ability to influence, deceive or even bully a Pope into saying and doing what he thinks is right but which is in reality terribly wrong? No Pope is stronger or better than those people in whom he has placed his trust. That is our conundrum.

William Tighe said...

ChrisB (and Grumpy Beggar),

It would be a good thing if Bouyer's memoirs were to be englished; in the mean time, however, one might seek out and read Dom Bernard Botte's memoirs, *From Silence to Participation: An Insider's View of Liturgical Renewal,* which appeared in English in 1988. Copies are generally rare and costly, but there is one to be had here for only 22.00 pounds:


In its Ch. 16, "Reform of the Mass," Botte's book confirms the story about a notion of eliminating - or not inserting - the Sanctus in EP II, although he does not attribute the idea to Fr. Bugnini. One startling difference between Botte's memoirs and Bouyer's is the effusive praise with which Botte bastes Bugnini throughout the book, even though on many particular points Botte and Bouyer seem to have been of a like mind on resisting most radical "reforms " (although, as Fr. Hunwicke discussed recently, Botte seems to have been largely responsible for replacing the Pontifical's longaeval episcopal consecration rite with one derived from "Hippolytus").

Chatto said...

The link to Dom Cassian Folsom's series of three articles on Adoremus is here:


Reader said...

Much of this, including the Bouyer narrative, can also be found in De Mattei's _Vatican Council II_ which is available now in English.

Jacobi said...

I haven't studied Paul VI in detail. What is obvious is that he was irresolute, easily influenced, lacked confidence, showed poor judgement with advisers, and when he had made a mistake was prone to despair and inaction.

We have had good and bad popes. he was a bad pope.

In fact, in my opinion, we have had a run of bad popes. St John XXIII was naieve, St John Paul II was initially too preoccupied with Poland etc., and then was increasing ill, particularly after the assassination attempt in 81. Benedict had the right ideas but not the energy or killer instinct to push them through. He should not have resigned. He is still well or better than several of my friends who carry on. The present pope, a bit early to say but clearly many Catholics of a wide range of persuasion, feel uncomfortable about him.

Raider Fan said...

It is an oddity of modern life that the one with the power is the one often described as a victim. In these United States, conservatives were forever pleading...Let Reagan be Reagan... as if The POTUS was not both conscious of, responsible for, and approving of, the policies rightly attributed to him.

And in March of 1965, we had Pope Blessed Paul VI making outrageous statements about the Holiest Action taking place on this planet at any moment in time:


We shall repeat what pastoral priests and teachers of religion have been saying frequently these days. First~ that in the beginning there will be a certain amount of confusion and some irritation is inevitable. It is of the very nature of a reform of religious practices which are deeply rooted and cherished, a reform both practical and spiritual, that it should cause some upset and be sometimes difficult. Secondly, that explanation and preparation and a certain degree of attentive assistance will speedily remove the uncertainties and soon give rise to an appreciation and enthusiasm for the new order. Because, thirdly, one must not imagine that after a short time we will once again be silent and devotional or lazy, as formerly.

So, because all of his predecessors were complicit in worship that encouraged indolence, the revolution was necessary; and, so what if the revolution was confusing and irritating to men for one must break many Traditional eggs if one desires a half-baked modernist omelet.

O, and what about his panel of advisors who told him The Pill was Jake vis a vis Catholicism? Was he not free to do as he did, reject their counsel?

Mike Cliffson said...

I feel you put too low a price on Humanae Vitae.
The latest encyclical is not invalidated, (shall we say blemished?), drawing moral etc conclusions from data explicitly stated as supplied by secular authorities, which on the public square are known to be falsified biased or debatable at best, in four out of 264 sections.
In humanae vitae natural human biological effects which the science of the time had found no evidence of are baldly and matter-of-factly stated to be so.
If everything else about that papacy had been hunkydory from our point of view, yet the encyclical had sold the pass........

jack p said...

The condemnation of the 'hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture' by Pope Benedict XVI was preceded over 33 years earlier by a speech of Pope Paul VI to the Cardinals on June 23th 1972. Pope Paul VI highlighted in this speech his concern with the following words: "... an emergency which We cannot and must not keep hidden: in the first place a false and erroneous interpretation of the Council, which would want to break with the tradition, even as regards the doctrine, an interpretation which goes so far that the pre-conciliar Church is rejected and one is allowed to consider a 'new' church, as it were reinvented from the inside, as regards the constitution of the Church, her dogma, custom and law "
These words spoken by Pope Paul VI seem to be a clear description of what Pope Benedict XVI has called the 'hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture'. In the same week on June 29th 1972 Pope Paul VI also had warned the faithful that this false hermeneutic had entered the Curia by saying in his homily: “... from some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God” [http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/it/homilies/1972/documents/hf_p-vi_hom_19720629.html].

Ttony said...

Lear, not Hamlet.

John Vasc said...

I'm reminded of a principle of English law (one that also obtains in many other continental legal systems) that where a contract has been signed or any binding decision made or document prepared under false premises or incorrect information, any such agreement is declared retrospectively invalid and no longer binds the signatory.
Difficult to prove in this case, of course, unless the Blessed Pope Paul VI were to make a posthumous appearance and utilize it for a denunciation.
Might such a further instance be, for example, where a summary of a synodal discussion falsely represents the substance of the discussion, and/or claims a general consensus where none existed?

John Vasc said...

"a bit early to say"
Jacobi, in one sense it will always be 'too early to say' until Judgement Day.
In another more temporal sense, no, I don't think it is too early: by no means. It seems blindingly clear to me, at least.

Jacobi said...

Mike ,

Sorry, Humanae Vitae, is one of the few good things that Paul VI did. Do note I did not mention it one way or the other.Remenber these are comments not treatises. Fr H would get a bit fed up if we attempted that.

John, as I have said elsewhere, or was it someone else, we all feel a bit uncomfortable about criticising the Keeper of the Keys in spite of him calling for open discussion.

Stephen said...

Ah, you old Romans. I'm with Tacitus channeling Calgacus - you make a desert, and call it renewal. Not much has changed in over 2000 years.