Benedict XVI on Approval of the Liturgical Reform

H/T to Matias Auge for responding to a recent statement of Benedict XVI by finding just the citation I was looking for.

The context is the introduction Benedict recently wrote for a book of essays honoring Cardinal Müller on his 70th birthday. Benedict said that in today’s confusing times, both the competence of academic theology and the wisdom of those authorities who must make the final decision are very important. Applying this to the liturgical reform, Benedict wrote:

“I think for example that in the liturgical reform, things would have ended up differently if the word of the experts had not been the final authority, but if, alongside this, a wisdom able to recognize the limits of the approach of a ‘simple’ scholar had judged it.”   (tr. awr)

But with all due respect to the venerable pope emeritus, it is not quite accurate to claim that experts were the final authority on the reform of the liturgy.

As the great leader of the liturgical reform under Blessed Paul VI, Annibale Bugnini, notes in The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 (English edition p. 383), Pope Paul wrote a handwritten letter to the Secretariat of State, which was then included in a communication of that office approving the reform of the Mass to Cardinal Benno Gut, prefect of the Congregation of Rites (later the Congregation for Divine Worship). It read as follows.

Wednesday, November 6, 1968
7:00 – 8:30 pm

Together with Father Annibale Bugnini, I have once again read the new Order of Mass compiled by the Council for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, now that observations on it have been made by myself, the Roman Curia, the Congregation of Rites, and the participants in the eleventh general meeting of the Consilium itself, as well as by other churchmen and members of the laity. After careful consideration of the various changes proposed, many of which have been accepted, I give the new Order of Mass my approval in the Lord. Paul VI, Pope.

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