Cardinal Gaetano Cicognani, RIP
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,454
    On Bonnie's thread about Musicam Sacram, I was reading Fr. Vogel's helpful timeline of liturgical documents, and this thought has struck me before: De Musica Sacra, which was in its own way an aggorniamento of the liturgy according to the wishes of the preconcilar popes, was promulgated in 1958 under Pope Pius XII and signed by Cardinal Cicognani, the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites and was followed in short succession by the Graduale Romanum (1961) and the Missale Romanum (1962), which were really the outgrowth of De Musica Sacra.

    So, for all intents and purposes the Roman Rite was set for the next century, at least, and this huge accomplishment was no doubt due to the great efforts and labor of Cardinal Cicognani. However, almost simultaneously, work was begun on an even more radical reform of the liturgy. I read recently that Cardinal Gaetano Cicognani (he had a brother who was also a cardinal) was named the head of the Preparatory Commission on the Liturgy by Pope John XXIII. Annibale Bugnini was appointed the Secretary of the Commission by the Pope a month later, and they began work in November, 1960. They completed their text in early 1962 and Cardinal Cicognani signed the text for submission on Feb. 1, 1962, and died four days later. (An irrelevant little side note: I was born a week later!)

    Bugnini reportedly wrote: "If Cardinal Cicognani had not signed the Constitution, humanly speaking it would have been a disaster. Everything would have been up for discussion again. But 'Who knows the ways of God?'"1

    My comment and question are: What a strange confluence of events, and what must it have been like for Cardinal Cicognani to be in the midst of producing and promulgating the 1962 Graduale Romanum and Missale Romanum and at the same time realize that the Church was headed in an entirely different direction and all his tremendous efforts to update the liturgy were for nothing, as it must have looked to him then?

    P.S. Just think, as he was signing the Constitution, he must have known that the 1962 Missal and the Graduale Romanum---both massive accomplishments and liturgical masterpieces---would soon be defunct. He was signing, in effect, the death warrant for his own life's work.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,454
    More on this tragic episode from Michael Davies book, Liturgical Time-Bombs in Vatican II:

    The Bugnini schema was accepted by a plenary session of the Liturgical Preparatory Commission in a vote taken on January 13, 1962. But the President of the Commission, the eighty-year old Cardinal Gaetano Cicognani, had the foresight to realize the dangers implicit in certain passages. Father Gy writes: "The program of reform was so vast that it caused the president, Cardinal Gaetano Cicognani, to hesitate." [Flannery, p. 23.] Unless the Cardinal could be persuaded to sign the schema, it would be blocked. It could not go through without his signature, even though it had been approved by a majority of the Commission. Father Bugnini needed to act. He arranged for immediate approaches to be made to Pope John, who agreed to intervene. He called for Cardinal Amleto Cicognani, his Secretary of State and the younger brother of the President of the Preparatory Commission, and told him to visit his brother and not return until the schema had been signed. The Cardinal complied:

    Later a peritus of the Liturgical Preparatory Commission stated that the old Cardinal was almost in tears as he waved the document in the air and said: "They want me to sign this but I don't know if I want to." Then he laid the document on his desk, picked up a pen, and signed it. Four days later he died. [Fr. Ralph M. Wiltgen, S.V.D., The Rhine Flows into the Tiber: A History of Vatican II (1967, rpt. Rockford, IL. TAN, 1985), p. 141.]


    Was Cardinal Cicognani's distress caused by the fact that he knew that we would be begin to see shortly thereafter what Josef Cardinal Ratzinger famously referred to as "the break in the centuries-long process of organic development of the liturgy"?

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