Updated: Sep 6
One of the most widely-shared quotes in traditionalist circles is the alleged quote from Archbishop Bugnini regarding the liturgical reforms:
"The road to union with our Separated Brethren, that is, the Protestants, is to remove every stone from the liturgy, every prayer from the Mass, that could even remotely be an obstacle or difficulty."
Let us be clear: this quote and its contextual implication are patently false. The actual quote and its true context are explained below by Mike Lewis at Where Peter Is. He says the following:
"Bugnini was writing specifically about the need to revise the text of the prayer for the unity of Christians, which in the pre-Vatican II rite said: 'Let us pray also for heretics and schismatics: that our Lord God would be pleased to rescue them from all their errors; and recall them to our holy mother the Catholic and Apostolic Church.'"
The full text of Bugnini's quote, as it relates to this prayer specifically, is as follows:
"The 7th prayer [of the new rite for Good Friday] bears the title: ‘For the Unity of Christians’ (not ‘of the Church’, which was always one.) No longer used is the pariah ‘heretics’ and ‘schismatics’ but ‘all brethren who believe in Christ…’
Scholars think to shed light on biblical and liturgical sources from which the new texts are derived or inspired, which the Study Groups of the “Consilium” accomplished by using a chisel. And let’s say that often the work proceeded ‘with fear and trembling’ by sacrificing terms and concepts so dear, and now part of the long family tradition. How not to regret that ‘Mother Church—Holy, Catholic and Apostolic—deigned to revoke’ the seventh prayer? And yet it is the love of souls and the desire to help in any way the road to union of the separated brethren, by removing every stone that could even remotely constitute an obstacle or difficulty, that has driven the Church to make even these painful sacrifices."
This is a far cry from the context that this quote is usually shared in. Removing "every stone from the liturgy, every prayer from the Mass" is not even mentioned at all. The archbishop was speaking about revising one specific prayer in the liturgy, a prayer which was the subject of much controversy (Protestants might not be so inclined to convert to Catholicism if, in our prayers for them, we are calling them heretics and schismatics). Using this in the context of revising the Mass as a whole is extremely misleading, and implies duplicitous intentions where there were none.
This quote was used in Mass of the Ages Episode 2, naturally to support its objective of painting Archbishop Bugnini and the reforms in a negative light. On August 18, 2022, the Mass of the Ages team sent out the following email to supporters (commentary added):
"Did Episode II Misquote Bugnini?"
It has been brought to our attention that a quote from Annibale Bugnini that appears in the second episode of our documentary is improperly translated to the point of not being true to the original quote.
This quote has circled the internet for some time and has seen many translations and iterations. Rather than this being an excuse for using a false quote, we would like to point out that we purposefully avoided the more jarring false quote that is often circulated. (Not using a more egregiously incorrect quote does not excuse one from using an incorrect quote, especially when implying subversive intentions of a prelate.)
In our version, some words were added to give context much like an editor would do when pulling historical sources for a book. We went too far with this editorial license and are grateful for those who pointed it out to us. (These 'added' words did NOT 'give' context; they placed it in an entirely different context than its original.)
We would also like to point out that the gist of what is stated in this false quote is echoed elsewhere in Bugnini's work and in the work of the other liturgical reformers, so although the quote itself is not exact, the ethos of the quote is. (According to the MotA team, even though the quote is inaccurate, this represents the "spirit of Bugnini." Funny how trads decry rebellious clergymen using the "spirit of Vatican II" to their advantage, but then do the same thing themselves.)
...[T]he Mass of the Ages team strives for honesty and accuracy in our documentary filmmaking, so we will add a disclaimer to the episode that lets the audience know of the false quote, but due to expense and time limitations we will not be re-editing Episode II at this time." (You won't correct a citation to give the necessary context because it would...require too much time and money? You won't remove content that is, in your own words, false, and has vastly negative implications for the church and the mass?)
This is extremely problematic. The MotA team prides itself in placing the number of views its film has on the thumbnail ("Over 1.4m views!"), but those viewers are being misled to the point of viewing the Holy Mass with suspicion and distrust.
Do not be misguided by the inaccuracies of the Traditionalist talking points like this one. Look into these things. Find the answers. The Mass is the one thing we should all be united by, not the thing that tears us into factions.