Talk:Annibale Bugnini

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Wrong title?[edit]

This article (written from scratch today) should probably be Annibale Bugnini, but I'll leave that for the next. There really is a dearth of material on this guy. Most of the biographical facts are culled from his memoirs of the Liturgical Reforms. But the more I read the more I relaise what a slippery customer he was. but to include all that would entangle us in POV.--Stroika 02:36, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Was he a Mason?[edit]

Answer: nobody knows. What evidence is there? Answer: (1) the allegation, (2) the lack of a (desirably adequate) denial (3) hearsay (some unnamed Cardinal in 1989 believes there are Masons but can't name any), (4) his sudden fall from power (twice). Of these three (1) begs the question, (2) and (3) are subjective. That leaves the very objective dismissals. At the risk of being subjective I think from reading the memoirs that he was so unscrupulous at getting his way that he annoyed too many people. One example: traditionally the prayer of the Church included the entire Psalter but the post Vatican II Liturgy of the Hours excludes three imprecatory psalms altogether (along with the odd verse here and there) and three historical psalms outside of the privileged seasons (i.e. in Ordinary Time). Consilium voted not to depart from tradition (overwhelmingly I think) but when Bugnini submitted this to the Pope he added a rider of his own. As secretary he had privileged access and he talked the Pope round. He records this - including the details of the votes - in his memoirs. A few more instances like that and he would have had a long list of enemies or (possibly worse) friends who would not bother to defend him. The commission for the reform of Holy Week met in total secrecy. SCR was caught on the hop. That can't have pleased people. Anyway I think he trod on too many toes - his memoirs are unctuously insincere

The basis for the dismissals was the charge of being a "progressivist", "pushy", and an "iconoclast" (innuenos whispered half-aloud), accusations then echoed in turn by the Congregation of Rites, the Congregation of Seminaries, and the Holy Office.

Actually I think his detractors got him right. The trouble is I am not sure how to put any of that in the article without it becoming as subjective as the conspiracy theories. Here's a question: Why was he not appointed to the Conciliar Commission? If that was for Masonism why was he appointed to Consilium? --Stroika 21:29, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

I think we need to move back here and perhaps move quite a lot of this section into footnotes. Whether Bugnini was or was not a Freemason is not a matter of public record. However there are things that we can report upon:
  • A dossier on Bugnini's apparent Masonic membership was on the Pope's desk
  • Many trads think that Bugnini's alleged Freemasonry, influence and liberalism were connected (a citation would be good here - but I've heard this)
  • Some commentators think that Bugnini went suddenly - although this should be as a citation not as speculation in the article.
There are also going to be a large number of citation requests. I think a lot of stuff here will probably need to be pruned. JASpencer 08:29, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Now deleted. JASpencer 21:43, 14 August 2006 (UTC)


I deleted the following sentence from the "After Consilium" section

On the other hand, claims - apparently worthy of serious attention - have been made that such evidence was indeed discovered by his fellow churchmen, [1] and that it was verified by the Italian police. [2]

The first reference is to a letter to the editor of the Australian Catholic monthly AD2000, this letter is already cited in the Wikipedia Article and is dated August 1989. The relevant sentence is as follows:

I know that there are high-ranking Vatican officials, including at least one former Cardinal Prefect of a Roman Congregation, who believe that there have been and are Freemasons in high Vatican positions.

No high ranking Vatican officials are named, Cardinal or not, who have this belief and note that it is only a belief. None of the alleged Masons are named. The letter is signed "REV BRIAN HARRISON, OS"

The second reference is to a newsletter put out by a Catholic (lay?) organisation, dated April 8 2005, i.e. just after the funeral of JPII, and discussing the funeral arrangements. The page title is "Super Flumina Sydney Australia Catholic Opinion".

Now, many of you reading this letter will be aware (in most cases ruefully) that Msgr. Marini was a devoted disciple of none other than the Great Architect of the universal liturgical reform, the late Archbishop Annibale Bugnini. (This prelate was finally exiled in disgrace by Paul VI after documentary evidence, checked out and verified by detectives of the Italian carabinieri, persuaded the Pope Bugnini was a Freemason.)

The statement that I deleted from the wikipedia article to the effect that the allegation Bugnini was a Mason "was verified by the Italian Police" thus relies on a sentence in parenthesis. The statement I deleted is not the summary of a complex argument containing many proofs leading to the same awful conclusion - that the Police checked it out - but a mere restatement in so many words. The investigating officers are not named. There are no dates. There is no explanation why the Italian Police were called into a Church affair, why they were willing to co-operate. The newsletter is signed "Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S."

I assume this is the same person. Same name. Same job (priest). Same concern (Bugnini as a Mason), both connected with Australia. This does not mean the allegation is false (although the evidence so far is woefully inadequate) but I do think if this material is to be included it needs to be red-flagged. This is not a court. We can include hearsay but only if it is *not* presented as the summary of properly sourced arguments but the exact extent of the hearsay is made very plain.

As a matter of history this question is not simple. By the nature of the case we are forced to arguments from absence. "The Popes would not have dismissed him for a trivial reason" (true) which leads to "it must have been something really serious" (maybe, maybe not) which leads to "it must have been this [*specified*] really serious allegation" (which is false). I am embarassed that when I started this article I only cited Michael Davies' article for a trivial biographical fact but it shows the way to go. He says

I have never claimed to have proof that Archbishop Bugnini was a Freemason. What I have claimed is that Pope Paul Vl dismissed him because he believed him to be a Freemason - the distinction is an important one. It is possible that the evidence was not genuine and that the Pope was deceived.

Perhaps so many people hated Bugnini that keeping him in Rome, in such a sensitive job was getting too tiresome? This would explain the first dismissal (ten years of grumbling about the liturgical changes from the first reforms of the Easter Vigil through to the Missal of 1962 came to a head) the subsequent reappointment by a different Pope after a space of time (the storm had died down) and the subsequent final dismissal (Bugnini was up to his old slippery tricks, cf. his treatment of the Consilium's views on the Psalter). He was given a proper job, with real responsibility. Compare the treatment of Marcial Maciel, invited to a "a reserved life of prayer and penance" (from Zenit). No nunciature for him.

I invite other editors to explore Michael Davies' article as a possible source. He gave full documentation in Pope Paul's New Mass which is now out of print and I do not have a copy. Stroika 15:05, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

I think that we're in agreement. Hearsay can properly be included, but it should be flagged as such. My concern is that the hearsay has been removed entirely from the article as it stands at present, and I had attempted to flag it appropriately.
In this case, it would be foolish to accept Fr. Harrison's claims uncritically. On the other hand, he does seem quite a credible source - his other published work seems level-headed and scholarly, and he appears to have made a respectable career as a priest. I would be inclined to take what he says seriously, and I think that other wikireaders would be justified in doing so too.
As a point of fact, the sentence in the first Harrison letter which I had in mind was the one in which he reports being told by an eminent churchman about the alleged discovery of a briefcase containing the elusive evidence. I agree that the sentence quoted above doesn't prove very much.

Ancus 19:32, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

I assume briefcase was a slip for dossier. I do not understand why you persist in adding links to Harrison's letter to 2000AD and not to the Michael Davies article to which it was responding. I only brought him in becauise I wanted a quote. Davies spoke to the man who is supposed to have put the dossier before Paul VI. Harrison spoke to a few clergymen who believed there to be Masons in the Vatican but never actually deigned to name them. This is barely hearsay (those Vatican highups barely *said* anything worth *hearing*) it is more like gossip. It is the same in any enclosed society: Oxbridge colleges, seminaries, monasteries. The need to be able to explain things is strong. Cardinals saying there are Masons under the bed without names or even the hint of proof. Harrison never says any of his Curial sources had seen or heard any postitve proof. Apparently they simply proclaimed it as true and we are apparnetly supposed to accept it as true on their own authority. Well I don't buy it. Somebody who retails gossip as fact - as Harrison does - is ipso facto *not* reliable, his other works do not enter into it. As for the article in Seattle Catholic: it is simply a cleaner version of the newsletter from that odd Sydney Catholic site, written 16 years after the event and Harrison provides no facts for verisimilitude. He asserts that the police checked it out without giving any details. Which policemen? how? why? when? Harrison isn't a source except for the persistence of this nasty rumour. Personally I think you can build a strong case against Bugnini just from his book - you don't need *utterly* unsubstantiated stories. I am going to recast the paragraph eliminating Harrison and making Davies more prominent. Davies refers to his own book which supposedly contains all the documentation. I don't have a copy.--Stroika 21:06, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
I think perhaps that there has been a misunderstanding here.
If all that Fr. Harrison was saying was that there were rumours of (unnamed) Masons in high curial places, I would agree that that would prove very little. It wouldn't deserve the dignity of a link. But you will have noticed that Harrison relates a specific story about the discovery of Bugnini's papers that he allegedly left behind in a Vatican conference room. This story came to Harrison at second hand, and cannot therefore be accepted uncritically; but, given both that Harrison himself seems a respectable source (unlike the rather more overwrought Piers Compton, who also tells the story about the discovery of the briefcase in The Broken Cross), and that Harrison in turn firmly endorses the credibility of his own source, I think that it would be reasonable to give some weight to the report. Of course, it may also be reasonable to reject it entirely. That is a matter for the wikireader.
As to my persistence in linking to Fr. Harrison's letter, I'm not aware of any other (arguably) credible source that relays the report re the discovery of the briefcase (The Broken Cross doesn't count as credible).-- Ancus 10.27, 18 June 2006 (UTC)
I apologise. I had missed the briefcase story. I am working on a new version her <at a usersubpage that is due to be deleted--Stroika 11:23, 28 June 2006 (UTC)>. Please comment/contribute. It would be helpful if there were a paragraph explaining the why (some people think that) it is important to prove Archbp B was a Mason. The average reader may not know what is supposed (by Catholics) to be wrong with Freemasonry. --Stroika 16:12, 18 June 2006 (UTC)
Jolly good, I'll have a look. Incidentally, I think that there's perhaps more info from Michael Davies in the online article than in Pope Paul's New Mass, though it's several years since I read it.-- Ancus 16:16, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Usable Images[edit]

Are there any usable images of Cardinal Bugnini? This is an area I know very little about.

JASpencer 20:49, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I would like to "second" this request. And if there aren't, can we move the Paul VI image somewhere else, such as lower on the page? The Pope's photo is near where I would expect Bugnini's photo, and that seems like a bad idea. - Lawrence King 02:59, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

GA nom[edit]

I removed the notice at the beginning of the article per WP:ASR. It is obvious that if an article does not exist then it does not exist. The article is currently on hold because the article does not state anything about his childhood; the article goes immediately onto controversy. So, I feel the sections need a little shuffling: normally controversy comes last in an article. Other than those points, the article is good. IolakanaT 14:58, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

GA re-review[edit]

1. Well written?: Pass
2. Factually accurate?: Pass
3. Broad in coverage?: Pass
4. Neutral point of view?: Pass
5. Article stability? Pass
6. Images?: Pass

This article was further improved from the above comments and thus meets the criteria of the GA article. Anything more that can be requested is expansion as it covers the necessary topics pertaining to the subject. Lincher 15:10, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

GA delisting[edit]

I am afraid that I think it necessary to delist this article - it is a very poor treatment of the topic and comes nowhere near the good article standards. My reasons are as follows:

1. It is well written Fail

  • The Controversy section sticks out from the main body of the article like a sore thumb, duplicates things already said and does not flow well.

2. Factually acurate Pass (in that nothing appears to be said that is untrue - but see below for imbalance)

3. It is broad in its coverage Fail

  • Far too much of the article deals with the unsubstantiated accusations that he was a freemason. Yes, he acknowledges (and strenuously denies) these accusations in The Reform of the Liturgy, and this should be stated in the article - BUT it is dealt with in this article almost as though it was the most important aspect of his life, rather than a smear. It is refered to once in the lead, dominates the After Consilium section, and then the rumours start AGAIN in the Controversy section.
  • Whilst obviously keeping the focus on Bugnini rather than on the reforms themselves, a lot more could be said about the reforms and Bugnini's role in bringing them about, especially given that he is viewed as a primary architect. Also more could be said about his opinions on the function and form of the liturgy and his rationales in helping to sculpt, promote and support the reforms. From this article, you get the impression that he was involved in various offices, that while he was in those offices he did something, and that something created controversy - but you are never really clued in on WHAT the something was, which is essential given that the article is meant to work without having too much prior knowledge of the topic at hand. More is said right now about his not being appointed in 1962 than about all the work that he had done before or after.

4. Neutral point of view Fail

  • Although I would not delist on this score alone, I am unsure about the standard of some of the articles used for references - considering the amount of books and articles published on this important period, there seems to be an excessive reliance on articles with a strong traditionalist POV, again which seem to be fixated on this issue of masonic involvement.
  • Far more weight is given to the suspicions and controversies surrounding his work than to the work itself.

5. Article stability Pass

6. Images? Fail

  • While a picture is not a necessity in an article, it is somewhat odd to have a picture of Pope Paul VI occupying the spot where a picture of the subject of the article usually sits. I double took when I first accessed the article, and I can't help but think this is a situation ripe for confusion, even with the explanatory caption.

Robotforaday 03:28, 23 March 2007 (UTC)


I had started with the Masonic allegations, as most of that section had more to do with the relationship of the Church and Freemasonry in general than it did to Bugnini in particular, and read like a book report on Davies' work. It also had a lot of editorial commentary, which I excised. I then went back and cleaned everything else up, as there is a lot of secondary material that only serves to confuse the reader. Much of this article is based solely on work by Davies, and I decided to err on the side of caution and leave the book review in there even though it isn't really referenced (as it would be easy to get something out of it). As it stands, the article is chronologically segmented, and there's a lot of room there to add information, and considered the article subject was involved in some of the biggest changes in the Church in centuries (if not millenia), there must be material there. MSJapan (talk) 20:19, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

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