In his post, "Fr. Bouyer and an anecdote about how the liturgical reform was imposed" (WDTPRS, October 14, 2009), Fr. Z cites his proximate source as a global email from the editor of Inside the Vatican, Robert Moynighan, and observes: "It concerns the behind the scenes story of the post-Conciliar liturgical reform. The characters involved are the famous liturgist Fr. Louis Bouyer and Paul VI. This is a bit removed, but it is perhaps useful." Here is Moynihan's email:
Letter from a Reader about the LiturgyFr. Z concludes: "You have to know that Paul VI was perhaps overly trusting."
I just received this letter from a reader:
Dear Dr. Moynihan,
These newsflashes are really informative and important for many of us to help us understand what is going on in Roma.
Given some of the past (and somewhat unfinished) newsflashes, I was wondering if you had seen this, from Fr. Anthony Chadwick (TAC priest in France) on his Civitas Dei web site http://pagesperso-orange.fr/civitas.dei/reflections10.09.htm, translating from a French traditionalist email group:
(Note: here follows the text from the web site; the incident occurred in about 1974.)
October 3rd—Sainte Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus (Roman calendar and a local Saint here in Normandy)...
Father Louis Bouyer (photo): I wrote to the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, to tender my resignation as member of the Commission charged with the Liturgical Reform. The Holy Father sent for me at once (and the following conversation ensued):
Paul VI: Father, you are an unquestionable and unquestioned authority by your deep knowledge of the Church’s liturgy and Tradition, and a specialist in this field. I do not understand why you have sent me your resignation, whilst your presence, is more than precious, it is indispensable!
Father Bouyer: Most Holy Father, if I am a specialist in this field, I tell you very simply that I resign because I do not agree with the reforms you are imposing! Why do you take no notice of the remarks we send you, and why do you do the opposite?
Paul VI: But I don’t understand: I’m not imposing anything. I have never imposed anything in this field. I have complete trust in your competence and your propositions. It is you who are sending me proposals. When Fr. Bugnini comes to see me, he says: "Here is what the experts are asking for." And as you are an expert in this matter, I accept your judgement.
Father Bouyer: And meanwhile, when we have studied a question, and have chosen what we can propose to you, in conscience, Father Bugnini took our text, and, then said to us that, having consulted you: "The Holy Father wants you to introduce these changes into the liturgy." And since I don’t agree with your propositions, because they break with the Tradition of the Church, then I tender my resignation.
Paul VI: But not at all, Father, believe me, Father Bugnini tells me exactly the contrary: I have never refused a single one of your proposals. Father Bugnini came to find me and said: "The experts of the Commission charged with the Liturgical Reform asked for this and that". And since I am not a liturgical specialist, I tell you again, I have always accepted your judgement. I never said that to Monsignor Bugnini. I was deceived. Father Bugnini deceived me and deceived you.
Father Bouyer: That is, my dear friends, how the liturgical reform was done!
(The letter to me then continues):
Of course, this plays into the I think unfinished story you were recounting about Cardinal Gagnon’s investigation, and the aftermath. I must add that I saw on another traditionalist list group a few years back the comment from Prof. Luc Perrin (Strasbourg) that he himself had a typescript copy of Fr. Bouyer’s memoirs, which could not then be published due to family opposition or something of the sort, but that they contained bombshells ...
[Hat tip to J.M.]