HE BISHOPS of Vatican II who voted for Sacrosanctum Concilium (December 1963) assumed the reforms would be undertaken by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. However, Pope Paul surprised everyone on 25 January 1964 by taking this job away from them and establishing a new body called the CONSILIUM to enact the liturgical reforms. It soon became apparent the Consilium wanted to go “beyond” Vatican II, while the Sacred Congregation of Rites attempted to retain only what the Council fathers mandated—and (sadly) met with precious little success. 1 Archbishop Piero Marini publicly admitted this in a 2007 book.
Ready for confusion? The Sacred Congregation of Rites was headed by CARDINAL LARRAONA whereas the Consilium was headed by CARDINAL LERCARO.
Larraona (1887-1973) was a Spanish Cardinal who had participated in the preparation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Lercaro (1891-1976) was Italian, and served as Archbishop of Bologna. He turned his episcopal palace into an orphanage and was mentioned numerous times in La riforma liturgica (Rome, 1983), a work by Annibale Bugnini which attempts to hide neither its bias nor its triumphalism.
When Bugnini’s book appeared in English in 1990, Monsignor Richard Schuler said:
Of course, there are “good guys” and “bad guys” according to Bugnini’s story. The “bad guys” are the church musicians and those wishing to retain some use of the Latin language, conservatives who evoke the anger and sarcasm of the author because of their efforts to defend the heritage of the Church in its liturgical texts and the musical settings (from Gregorian chant to modern compositions). Bugnini attributes bad will to many of those sitting with him on the various commissions, especially the members of the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae. [emphasis added]
You can read everything Msgr. Schuler had to say about Archbishop Bugnini in 1990, including this devastating assessment of the book:
There remains throughout the presence of Bugnini—his bias, his anger, and his prejudice—making one continuously ask the unanswerable question: “Why?”
FATHER LOUIS BOUYER, a close friend of Pope Paul VI and important member of the Consilium, had this to say about Cardinal Lercaro:
Unfortunately, on the one hand a deadly error in judgment placed the official leadership of this committee into the hands of a man who, though generous and brave, was not very knowledgeable: Cardinal Lercaro. He was utterly incapable of resisting the maneuvers of the mealy-mouthed scoundrel that the Neapolitan Vincentian, Bugnini—a man as bereft of culture as he was of basic honesty—soon revealed himself to be.
Here are some pictures and video of Giacomo Cardinal Lercaro, President of the Consilium:
(For the record, although it’s certainly not sacred music, I find that video’s soundtrack striking.)
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 The Sacred Congregation of Rites was occasionally able to block the Consilium—such as when the Consilium tried to eliminate Hebrew words like Hosanna, Amen, and Alleluia from the liturgy.