Bugnini's Ring or the trail of evidence leading to the diabolical conspiracy of assassins of the Latin Mass

The trail to Traditionis custodes leads to Sant’Anselmo


The Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant'Anselmo: The Pontifical Liturgical Institute located there supports and influences the spirit behind the Motu proprio Traditionis custodes.

Abbot Benno Gut.  Good in name only, bad for the liturgy

While the reactions to the Motu proprio Traditionis custodes from Pope Francis are increasing, the Vaticanist Andrea Gagliarducci set out to search for the direct origin of the new Motu proprio, with which, according to general opinion, Francis is launching a campaign of destruction against the traditional rite and the Tradition has begun.

In addition to the institutes of tradition, the directly affected Ecclesia Dei communities, but also the Society of Saint Pius X, tradition-friendly bishops such as Cardinal Raymond Burke, Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Marian Eleganti also took a stand. Meanwhile, incumbent diocesan bishops in various parts of the world are already implementing the motu proprio, which came into force immediately with the announcement on July 16, by banning the traditional rite. While the Generalate of the Society of St. Peter was very reserved and expressed astonishment and sadness, the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, Fr. Davide Pagliarani, asks in his letter the reason “why this Mass, even inside the church, has become a sign of contradiction:

“The answer is simple and is becoming increasingly clear. After fifty years, the elements of this answer are clear to every Christian of good will: the Tridentine Mass expresses and conveys a certain conception of the Christian life, and consequently of the Church, which is completely incompatible with the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council. The problem does not only arise on a liturgical, aesthetic or purely formal level. The problem lies simultaneously at the doctrinal, moral, spiritual, ecclesiological and liturgical levels. In a word: the problem affects all aspects of church life without exception – it is a question of faith.”

The origin of Traditionis custodes and the Benedictine College of Sant’Anselmo

Gagliarducci, a contributor to numerous Catholic media outlets such as Korazym.org, National Catholic Register, CNA and AciStampa, seeks to explain, in an article published by CNA, the likely origin of the Motu proprio Traditionis custodes, with which Pope Francis reaffirmed his predecessor, Benedict XVI . and John Paul II issued decrees Summorum Pontificum (2007) and Ecclesia Dei (1988) that have been undermined and distorted beyond recognition. The part of the organized tradition that is in full unity with Rome was deprived of its legal basis by Francis.

Gagliarducci cannot or does not want to afford to mention Pope Francis and his personal aversion to the traditional rite by name. He therefore looks for the culprits elsewhere. Nevertheless, his search for traces is certainly interesting in order to understand the developments in the past decades, not only since the Second Vatican Council, but also before.

In his analysis, the Vaticanist points the finger at the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant'Anselmo, the Benedictine order university founded in Rome in 1888 and associated with the abbey of the same name with a special focus on liturgical studies. The university is run by the Confoederatio Benedictina, which has brought together Benedictine congregations, currently nineteen, as well as six abbeys that do not belong to any congregation since the end of the 19th century. The Abbot Primate of the Confederation has his seat in the Abbey of Sant'Anselmo, which has the status of Primate Abbey.

At first glance, Gagliarducci's hint seems to be a contradiction. Aren't the Benedictines, the oldest order in the West, the living expression of the timelessness and special care of the liturgy? A first look at recent church history provides an important clue. When in 1969 under Pope Paul VI. The liturgical reform was introduced by Annibale Bugnini, was a Benedictine prefect of the Roman Congregation of Rites, from which today's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments emerged with the liturgical reform. It is the Swiss Benedictine Benno Gut, who was Abbot of Einsiedeln until 1959, then abbot primate in Sant'Anselmo until 1967. As such, he took part in the Second Vatican Council as a council father. 

In June 1967 he was appointed by Paul VI. appointed to the Roman Curia as Prefect of the Congregation of Rites. Gut also became chairman of the Consilium for the Implementation of the Liturgy Constitution of the Council, which prepared the liturgical reform under its secretary Annibale Bugnini. Paul VI had already appointed him titular archbishop 19 days before his appointment to the Holy See and made him a cardinal three days before that.

It sounds like a quirk of history that in 1964 the Consilium refused to set up its headquarters in the premises of the Congregation of Rites and therefore met in what was then the Hospitium Sanctae Marthae, today the Vatican guest house, exactly where Pope Francis has been living since 2013.

When Gut became prefect of the newly established Congregation for Divine Worship in 1969, Bugnini became its secretary. Gut died on December 8, 1970 at the age of 73.

Sant’Anselmo controls liturgical affairs

After this introduction, now to Gagliarducci's remarks. His first reference concerns the fact that both the new secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Vittorio Viola OFM, and the new undersecretary, Bishop Aurelio Garcia Macias, studied at the Benedictine College of Sant'Anselmo. Both were appointed by Francis last May 27, three days after the pope announced a "reinterpretation" of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum behind closed doors before the Italian Bishops' Conference. 

Gagliarducci writes:

“The liturgical school of the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’Anselmo has a growing influence on the liturgical norms coming from the Vatican.”

The college founded by Pope Leo XIII. Recognized in 1887, it has had its headquarters on the Aventine in Rome since 1896. The Pontifical Liturgical Institute was founded in 1961 by Pope John XXIII. founded and entrusted to the Benedictine Confederacy. For this purpose, the Holy See established it as a separate faculty for the sacred liturgy at the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant'Anselmo.

“It is located just a few meters from the Roman church of Santa Sabina, where the Popes, including Pope Francis, traditionally celebrate mass on Ash Wednesday every year.”

Gagliarducci doesn't say, but the founding was already related to the desired liturgical reform. For this he writes:

“During the discussions surrounding the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council and its subsequent implementation, the Pontifical Institute became a reference point for all liturgical debates and often represented the ‘progressive’ side.”

A “proud alumnus,” said Gagliarducci, “is Archbishop Piero Marini, the reigning Pope’s master of ceremonies for his trips to Italy and a former master of ceremonies for Pope John Paul II.

“Piero Marini was blamed for the extravagant liturgical vestments that John Paul II was required to wear in later years.”

After taking office, Pope Benedict XVI pushed Marini quickly moved to another position.

Graduates and lecturers and the “senior liturgist” Andrea Grillo

A graduate of the Liturgical Institute of Sant'Anselmo is also the other undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, the Montfortan Corrado Maggioni, who has held this position, also appointed by Pope Francis, since November 2014.

One of the most famous lecturers at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Sant’Anselmo is the theologian Andrea Grillo, “a vigorous defender of the Motu proprio Traditionis custodes”. What's more: Grillo never made a secret of his dislike for the traditional rite. His attacks against the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum were correspondingly frequent.

In April 2019 he called on Santa Marta to “restrict access to the traditional rite”. The liturgical scientist was correspondingly enthusiastic in April 2020 when it was announced that the Holy See was conducting a survey among diocesan bishops worldwide about the implementation of Summorum Pontificum. Katholisches.info wrote at the time that if Grillo is happy, it is “a cause for concern.” Today, Francis uses the results of this survey to justify his radical intervention through Traditionis custodes.

Grillo also suggested that Benedict XVI remain silent. in order to prevent his possible influence on the church and sharply attacked the four cardinals who expressed dubia (doubts) about the controversial post-synodal letter Amoris laetitia in 2016. Grillo even used the Requiem for the late Cardinal Joachim Meisner for polemics.

Monsignor Vittorio Viola, bearer of Bugnini's ring

The influence of the Liturgical Institute of Sant’Anselmo can be demonstrated even more precisely. Both Maggioni and Archbishop Piero Marini were members of the commission that drafted the motu proprio Magnum Principium, which was promulgated by Pope Francis on September 3, 2017. Under the slogan “decentralization” he transferred powers to translate the liturgical texts to the individual bishops' conferences.

“This put an end to the Vatican’s policy of creating uniform translations.”

Francis canceled John Paul II's efforts to translate into the vernacular languages and, above all, Benedict correct.

During the final preparations of the Motu proprio Magnum Principium, Cardinal Robert Sarah's book “The Power of Silence” with an afterword by Benedict XVI was available. appeared. Andrea Grillo, the “chief liturgist” of Sant’Anselmo who was valued in Santa Marta, raged. He insulted the cardinal as “incompetent” and Benedict XVI. He accused him of being responsible for the “failure” of the church.

Behind the scenes, according to Riccardo Cascioli, the editor-in-chief of Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Grillo was already acting as “a key figure working behind the back of Cardinal Sarah and with the approval of the Pope on liturgical changes that contradict the 'reform of the reform', the Benedict XVI. was so important.”

Cardinal Sarah, then still prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, but already isolated and marginalized at this point, reacted at a liturgy conference with dramatic words:

“It is diabolical (…) they are destroying the church.”

“The Liberal Institute of Sant’Anselmo has taken control”

With the appointment of Monsignor Viola as secretary and García Macias as undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship at the end of May, “it was clear to those in the know,” said Gagliarducci, “that the very liberal Institute of Sant’Anselmo had taken control of most liturgical matters.”

The graduates and lecturers of Sant'Anselmo now sit in numerous institutions and can have an influence there: Msgr. Maurizio Barba is an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Carmelite Giuseppe Midili is head of the Liturgical Office of the Diocese of Rome, to name just a few.

Father Midili has been considered for some time as a possible successor to Msgr. Guido Marini as the Pope's master of ceremonies. Another candidate for this position is Father Pietro Muroni, another graduate of Sant'Anselmo, who is now dean of the Theological Faculty of the Pontifical Urban University and consultant to the Office for the Pope's Liturgical Celebrations.

Not all graduates of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Sant'Anselmo follow the Bugnini course like Archbishop Viola OFM, who even wears Bugnini's bishop's ring. Among the former students is Msgr. Guido Marini, Pope Benedict XVI's master of ceremonies, who was retained in his place by Francis to this day.

Gagliarducci's summary:

“But the growing influence of Sant’Anselmo’s positions on liturgical questions has not gone unnoticed within the ranks of the Curia. And some insiders say that the institute's cohort is behind Pope Francis' Motu proprio Traditionis custodes, which exempts the celebration of Masses according to the Missal of Pope John XXIII. of 1962 was repealed.”

The Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant'Anselmo has been Abbot Primate Gregory J. Polan (Neu-Engelberg Abbey, USA) since 2016; the rector of the university has been the Austrian P. Bernhard Eckerstorfer (Kremsmünster Abbey) since 2019.



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