Bugnini, Annibale

views updated


Liturgical reformer and scholar, and titular archbishop of Diocletiana; b. Civatella del Lago (Terni), Italy, June 14, 1912; d. Rome, July 3, 1982. More than any other single person, Annibale Bugnini may be called the chief architect of the Roman liturgical reform. Beginning with his appointment as secretary of the Commission for the Liturgical Restoration by Pope pius xii on May 28, 1948, he occupied the critical executive position on the successive bodies of official liturgical revision: secretary of the Preparatory Commission on the Liturgy (196062); peritus (but not secretary) of the Conciliar Commission on the Liturgy, Second vatican council (196263); secretary of the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy (196469); and secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship (196975). During this period he guided, coordinated, and provided continuity in the official reform of the Roman liturgyfrom the pre-conciliar revisions of the 1950s and early 1960s to the constitution on the liturgy itself (1963), to the general revision of the ritual books of the Roman liturgy, including those completed only in the years following his leaving office in 1975.

Bugnini was a member of the Congregation of the Missions (Vincentians), ordained a priest in Siena in 1936. Two years later he received the doctorate, with a dissertation on the importance of the liturgy in the Council of trent. This was the beginning of his writings in the liturgical field, ranging from scholarly developments to popular publications, with more than 200 items in his bibliography. From 1944 to 1963 he edited the learned journal Ephemerides liturgicae ; 1,500,000 copies of his 1950 booklet for participation in the liturgy, La nostra Messa, were distributed; and he was the editor of the Italian version of the French missals of Feder (1961) and Jounel (1974).

Vatican II. Bugnini's own writings and his professorial appointments at several Roman universities and institutes are of course secondary to his responsibilities in the Roman Curia. Although little heralded at the time, the commission set up by Pius XII in the wake of the encyclical mediator dei on Christian worship (1947) opened the way to the later conciliar reform. It was this body, with Bugnini as secretary, that produced the reformed rites of holy week, a major simplification of the rubrics of the Mass and office, and a revised volume of the Roman Pontificalall issued by the Roman Congregation of Rites.

When Pope John XXIII established a series of commissions to prepare draft texts in preparation for the Second Vatican Council, Bugnini was the logical choice to direct the work of the liturgical commission, under the presidency of Cardinal Gaetano Cicognani. He was largely responsible for the planning and organization of both the working subcommissions and of the text, which was completed in January 1962. The draft was characterized by its openness to liturgical renewal and change, the influence of the recommendations from the Catholic episcopate (not so well reflected in drafts from other preparatory commissions), and the contributions of liturgical and pastoral specialists, with whom Bugnini had been closely associated in the preceding decade. The success of the enterprise is seen in its ready acceptance by the council, the only draft so accepted during the 1962 period.

In the meantime, however, Bugnini had suffered a personal eclipse. Cardinal Cicognani died shortly after the draft was completed, and his successor, Cardinal Arcadio Larraona, was out of sympathy with the projected constitution and with the preparatory commission's secretary, who was denied continuation as secretary to the conciliar commission when the council opened in October of 1962. During the refinement and amendment of the constitution's draft in the light of the conciliar debate, Bugnini played a lesser formal role as a peritus of the commission, but his influence was strong among the members and the other periti.

The Consilium. In October of 1963, before the promulgation of the constitution on the liturgy, Pope paul vi directed Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro of Bologna to initiate plans for its implementation. These were developed by Bugnini, who was secretary of an informal group assembled by Lercaro, and early in 1964 the post-conciliar commission or consilium was established. This had the task of revising the Roman liturgical books in accord with the conciliar mandate and at the same time promoting the liturgical renewal in close collaboration with the conferences of bishops. The directive role was Bugnini's, and he assembled a large body of consultors who worked in study groups in the preparation of instructions and other documents and above all the revised Latin liturgical books, which would be the exemplars of the vernacular ritual books.

The position of the consilium within the Roman Curia was an uneasy one, since the Congregation of Rites to which the consilium submitted its completed work was not sympathetic, nor were indeed other curial dicasteries. The support of Paul VI, however, enabled the work to go forward, and the enterprise was vastly more massive and successful than the analogous undertaking after the Council of Trent, which had also entrusted liturgical revision to the Roman See (1563). Both Lercaro, the first president of the Consilium, and Bugnini were subjected to severe criticism, often from those whose disaffection was really with the Second Vatican Council and with Paul VI himself, but the latter was determined to carry out the council's decisions faithfully and he personally reviewed each document before promulgation.

The work of the Consilium was carried out through a very broad cooperative effort and processes of consultation and experiment, all guided by Bugnini. Many compromises were needed to satisfy diverse interests, and the projects had to be completed as quickly as possible consonant with scholarly and pastoral professionalism, lest the momentum created by the council be lost. The achievement of the Consilium is best seen in the series of liturgical books, beginning in 1968 with the rites of ordination and continuing thereafter with sections of the traditional missal, ritual, pontifical, and liturgy of the hours according to the Roman rite. The best account of the work is in an exhaustive volume by Bugnini himself, La riforma liturgica (19481975), published posthumously.

The relationship of the Consilium to the Congregation of Rites was unaffected by the curial reform of 1967, but two years later Paul VI suppressed that congregation, and its work devolved upon the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Congregation for Divine Worship; the latter was in effect the successor to the Consilium and continued its work. Bugnini, the first and in fact only secretary of the new congregation, was ordained titular archbishop in February of 1972. His participation in the liturgical reform came to an abrupt end in June of 1975, when the Congregation for Divine Worship was merged with the Congregation for the Sacraments.

Diplomatic Work. At this point Archbishop Bugnini embarked, by papal appointment, on an entirely distinct career in the diplomatic corps of the Holy See. He was named apostolic pro-nuncio in Iran and served there until his death in 1982. During this time he continued writing, producing volumes on Saint Vincent de Paul and on the Church in Iran, as well as the account of the Roman liturgical reform mentioned above. When the U.S. hostages were held captive in Iran in 197476, he ministered to them, in a role that was pastoral rather than diplomatic, with visits for eucharistic celebrations whenever permitted.

The part taken by Annibale Bugnini in the 20th-century reform of the Roman liturgy can hardly be exaggerated. He brought to his several positions scholarly background coupled with pastoral experience, marked always by openness to ecclesiological and ecumenical developments. Although neither the constitution on the liturgy nor the several liturgical books can be attributed in their composition or even planning to an individual, his pervasive role from 1948 to 1975 and his impact on the liturgical life of the Church were unique. He suffered greatly from critics within the Roman Curia and from outside, but he bore this patiently as a sign of the successful accomplishment of the conciliar liturgical renewal.

See Also: liturgical books of roman rite; rites, congregation of.

Bibliography: a. bugnini, ed., Documenta Pontificia ad instaurationem liturgicam spectantia (19031953) (Rome 1953); II (195359). a. bugnini, La riforma liturgica (19481975) (Rome 1983). t. richstatter, Liturgical Law: New Style, New Spirit (Chicago 1977). g. pasqualetti, "Una vita per la liturgia," p. jounel, et al., eds., Liturgia opera divina e umana: Studi sulla riforma liturgica offeri a S. E. Mons Annibale Bugnini in occasione del suo 70 compleanno (Rome 1982) 1328; "Bibliografia di A. Bugnini," op. cit., 2941.

[f. r. mcmanus]