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Annibale Bugnini

Annibale Bugnini
Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Iran
See Diocletiana
Appointed 4 January 1976
Term ended 3 July 1982
Predecessor Ernesto Gallina
Successor Giovanni De Andrea
Other posts Titular Archbishop of Diocletiana
Ordination 26 July 1936
by Alcide Giuseppe Marina
Consecration 13 February 1972
by Pope Paul VI
Personal details
Born (1912-06-14)14 June 1912
Civitella del Lago, Umbria
Died 3 July 1982(1982-07-03) (aged 70)
Rome, Italy
Nationality Italian
Denomination Catholicism
Previous post Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship (1969-1976)
Styles of
Annibale Bugnini
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Monsignor
Posthumous style none

Annibale Bugnini, C.M. (14 June 1912 – 3 July 1982) was a Roman Catholic prelate. Ordained in 1936 and named archbishop in 1972, he was secretary of the commission that worked on the reform of the Catholic liturgy that followed the Second Vatican Council, until he was abruptly demoted from the Roman Curia and sent to a relatively minor diplomatic posting in Iran.

Bugnini became a controversial figure and remains one among some Catholics, due to his role in the changes to the Catholic Mass and other liturgical practices in the mid-20th century (both before and after Vatican II).


  • Early life and ordination 1
  • Church Commissions and Vatican II 2
  • Episcopate and later career 3
  • Allegations of Freemasonry 4
  • Notes and references 5

Early life and ordination

Annibale Bugnini was born in Civitella del Lago in Umbria.[1] In 1928 he began his theological studies with the Congregation of the Mission and was ordained a priest on 26 July 1936.

He completed his doctorate in sacred theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas Angelicum in 1938 with a dissertation entitled De liturgia eiusque momento in Concilio Tridentino[2]

He spent ten years in parish work in a Roman suburb.[1] In 1947 Bugnini became involved in the production of the missionary publications of his order and at the same time became the first editor of Ephemerides Liturgicæ, a scholarly journal which was dedicated to the reform of the Catholic liturgy. Starting in 1949, he taught Liturgical Studies at the Pontifical Urban College (now the Pontifical Urban University), later becoming a professor at the Pontifical Lateran University.[1]

Church Commissions and Vatican II

On 28 May 1948 Pope Pius XII appointed Bugnini Secretary to the Commission for Liturgical Reform.,[1] which created a revised rite for the Easter Vigil in 1951 and revised ceremonies for the rest of Holy Week in 1955. That same year, the Commission made changes to the rubrics of the Mass and Office, suppressing many of the Church's octaves and a number of vigils, and abolishing the First Vespers of most feasts.

The Commission went on to reform the Code of Rubrics (1960) which led to new editions of the Roman Breviary in 1961 and the Roman Missal in 1962.[3] The liturgical changes implemented by the Commission for Liturgical Reform between 1951 and 1962, reflected in the 1962 Missal and Breviary, laid the ground for the later Novus Ordo Mass.

On 25 January 1959 Pope John XXIII announced that he planned to convene the Second Vatican Council. On 6 June 1960 Fr. Bugnini was appointed to the Secretary of the Pontifical Preparatory Commission on the Liturgy. This body produced the first drafts of the document which after many changes would become the Pastoral Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium).

However, according to Archbishop Piero Marini a former collaborator with Bugnini, after the Council commenced on 11 October 1962, Bugnini's fortunes were to wane for a while. Thus, although Bugnini had been secretary of the Preconciliar Commission, Fr. Ferdinando Antonelli, O.F.M. was instead appointed as secretary of the Conciliar Commission on the Sacred Liturgy on 21 October 1962. Bugnini was demoted to the position of a peritus (expert). At the same time, Bugnini was also removed from the chair of Liturgy at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome "because his liturgical ideas were seen as too progressive."[4]

The death of St. John XXIII and the election of Paul VI in June 1963 boded well for Bugnini. After the Council and Pope approved the Constitution on the Liturgy on 4 December 1963. On 3 January 1964 Pope Paul VI appointed Bugnini as Secretary of the Council (Consilium[5]) for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy ("the Consilium" for short).[6] Bugnini was appointed the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship by Pope Paul in May 1969.[7]

Episcopate and later career

On 6 January 1972 Pope Paul announced that he was raising Bugnini to the order of bishop. He was named the Titular Archbishop of Diocletiana. He was consecrated bishop on the following 13 February.[7]

On 16 July 1975 Pope Paul announced that he was merging Bugnini's Congregation with the Congregation for the Sacraments to form the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and that Bugnini would not serve as secretary of the new, more powerful Congregation. His personal secretary was Piero Marini, who is now an Archbishop and President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

On 4 January 1976 the Vatican abruptly announced Bugnini's assignment to a minor Vatican diplomatic post as pro-nuncio to Iran. Bugnini studied the country, its history, and traditions, resulting in his book La Chiesa in Iran (The Church in Iran).[8] Once he completed that book, he wrote the well-known resource, "The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975."

In 1979 Bugnini tried unsuccessfully to obtain, in the name of the pope, the release of the American hostages being held at the United States embassy by followers of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The elderly nuncio met with Khomeini to deliver Pope John Paul II's appeal for the release of the hostages, but the ayatollah rejected the appeal. The 52 Americans were eventually released on 21 January 1981, after 444 days in captivity.

Bugnini died in Rome at the Pope Pius XI Clinic on 3 July 1982.[9] He had served as an Apostolic Pro-Nuncio for the last six years of his life and died at 70 years of natural causes.

Allegations of Freemasonry

Bugnini was suspected by some of being a Freemason, which is in conflict with Canon Law and Catholic tradition. Catholics who are Freemasons "are in a state of grave sin and may not receive

Preceded by
Enrico Dante
Delegate of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations
1968 - 9 January 1970
Succeeded by
Virgilio Noè

  1. ^ a b c d e Davies, Michael. How the liturgy fell apart: the enigma of Archbishop BugniniAD2000, June 1989, retrieved June 17, 2006.
  2. ^ Accessed 30 Dec., 2014
  3. ^ Davies, Michael. Pope Paul's New Mass, Angelus Press 1980, p.497.
  4. ^ Marini, Piero. A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal, Liturgical Press 2007, p.xix.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Bugnini, Annibale. The Reform of the Liturgy: 1948-1975, The Liturgical Press, 1990. pp.49-50.
  7. ^ a b "Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, C.M.".  
  8. ^ Warda, Gladys. "La Chiesa in Iran (The Church in Iran) by Annibale Bugnini"
  9. ^ Papal Nuncio Bugnini Dies; Figure in Iran Hostage Crisis, Associated Press, from the New York Times, July 4, 1982
  10. ^ Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (November 26, 1983). "Declaration on Masonic Organizations". Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Moynihan, Robert. 15 July 2009. Accessed 21 May 2013.Inside The Vatican"A Dying Cardinal."
  12. ^ Latin Mass Magazine, Summer 2001 (cite to edition of L'Osservatore Romano)
  13. ^ Davies, Michael (2003). Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican II: Destruction of the Faith through Changes in Catholic Worship. Tan Books.  
  14. ^ Was Cardinal Annibale Bugnini a Freemason?

Notes and references

In Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican II, English Catholic writer Michael Davies asserts that Bugnini's Masonic connections were behind his Modernist liturgical reforms, and that the discovery of his Masonic affiliation prompted his sudden transfer by Pope Paul VI from his post in the Roman Curia to that of Papal Nuncio to Iran.[13] However, Bugnini remained on as papal diplomatic representative under Pope John Paul II during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, which some observers suggest indicates either lack of sufficient evidence of his Freemasonry or his being acquitted of such association by the Holy See.[14] Davies further asserted that an unnamed Cardinal told him in the summer of 1975 that a "dossier" proving him to be a Freemason had been brought to the Pope's desk.[1]


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