Rorate Caeli

Vatican II at 50:
Archbishop Peruzzo, the Prophet - and the anti-liturgical revolution that was to come

Giovanni Battista Peruzzo, the Passionist* Archbishop of Agrigento (Sicily), had been a bishop since 1924, and was admired deeply by the poor people of his diocese as the "vescovo dei contadini", the "peasants's bishop". Abp. Peruzzo, who had been the victim of a serious attempt on his life in 1945, shortly after the end of the War in Europe, would die before the second session of the Second Vatican Council, but, when faced with the concepts proposed in the schema of the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy and on the wild liturgical ideas being openly discussed in the aula during the first session (1962), he could not remain silent. 

The words of his short address to the Council Fathers, as reported by Prof. Roberto di Mattei, based on Dom Guéranger's principles of the Anti-Liturgical heresy (first translated by us in 2006), are nothing short of impressive in their prophetic depth, and on what aspects are really necessary for the sanctification of souls - anti-liturgical revolution not being one of them.

[…] On October 29, [1962,] the Bishop of Agrigento, Abp. Giovanni Battista Peruzzo, recalled the initial stages of the anti-liturgical movement in the historical setting of pagan humanism [260], between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th.   Abp. Peruzzo’s speech, which was ridiculed by the progressives, deserves to be reported in its entirety because of the wisdom and foresight it displays.

In his speech, resound the admonitions of Dom Guéranger, who, in the 14th chapter of his Institutions Liturgiques, vigorously denounced the principles that were behind the anti-liturgical heresy, in which the first characteristic: “is the hatred for tradition, of formulas, of divine worship.” [261]

“I am the last one [to speak] but I am old, the oldest among you, and perhaps I have understood little; therefore, forgive me if some of my statements should be displeasing to you. I have listened to many comments and proposals against Holy Tradition, which has to be maintained regarding the use of the Latin language in the Sacred Liturgy, and many words have been a cause of fear and anxiety to me, so now I will explain these to you briefly, not from a theological perspective but from a historical one. I do not like the anti-liturgical movement because of its origins. It is always of great importance to pay attention to the origins of families, of institutions, of realities, of doctrines, to determine who the father is, who the mother is, who the guide is. If the original source was sound at the beginning, it will easily remain sound throughout the course of time. If the source is  contaminated, it will hardly become pure. Based on these principles, I have before me the origins of the anti-liturgical movement – and exactly who the fathers and guides were. 

“This movement began at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. The first anti-liturgists were the Humanists, [who were] true and authentic pagans in Italy and were only a little better in France and the northern lands under the guidance of Erasmus, but all of them wavering in the Faith.     Many of our brothers followed them in their path, and consequently  separated from the Catholic Church. From there the Jansenists came into being, in Italy the followers of the Synod of Pistoia, and finally the Modernists: this is the company to which many have conformed their speech.

“Instead, I cannot find a single holy bishop promoting this movement. From the likes of Charles Borromeo to St. Anthony Mary Claret, from St. Francis de Sales to St. Alphonsus, ancient and modern, all of them have adhered to the Latin Tradition. This fact must make us cautious about proposing novelties. The 'old ways' which are sure are easily abandoned; but who knows what bottomless pits the new paths might prepare and cause for us!

“Erasmus wrote thus in his preface to the Gospel of St. Mathew: 'It seems so indecorous and ridiculous, that the common people and silly women, repeat, mumbling like parrots, the Psalms and Sunday prayers, while they themselves do not understand a thing as to what they mean.' The University of Paris condemned this view, which seems straightforward and right, as: impious, erroneous, and the promoter of new errors; read Duplessy.

“This judgment appears to be excessive to us, but it  proved prophetic. All of those who have asked at least for a reduction of Latin in the Liturgy, in the past, as in the present, always express the same reasons; to instruct the people better and urge them onto greater faith and love of God.

“In the Augustana [Augsburg Confession], nothing other than a request for singing in the vernacular by the people during the celebration of the Mass was made – but what happened? The replacement of the language in the Mass by the vernacular, was in general, the first act of separation from Holy Mother Church. This strong affirmation is not mine, but from Dom Guéranger, who is the true father of the liturgical renewal.  Here are his words: 'the separation of the liturgical language for unexplainable reasons, that we do not know of, almost always, even if the dispensation was obtained from the Supreme Pontiff, has led to schism and  full separation from the Catholic Church.’ He proves this affirmation, as you will be able to read in the third volume of his Institutions Liturgiques. These words, these facts must make us extremely cautious in a matter of such importance.

“I will briefly explain a third reason: the loyalty that bishops, more than any others, must always have towards the Supreme Pontiff, obviously.  For almost five centuries the Supreme Pontiffs have strongly resisted pleadings, solicitations, and threats, in defense of the Latin language in the Sacred Liturgy. In recent times, from Pope Leo XIII until the reigning pontiff,  they have unanimously recommended the necessity of the Latin language in the Sacred Liturgy through various Apostolic Letters. 

“Dear Brothers, are these instructions mere guidance or do they give an order? Discussions to the contrary are open; but to me it seems right that they be made in low voice in humble submission and obedience to the Supreme Pontiff. Everyone asks the Christians of today to become better. Let all of us commit ourselves to this goal; history, in fact teaches us that the sanctification of souls can be bound to the Liturgy, but it demands, above all, our holiness, the strength of our faith, heroism in the  apostolate, the spirit of prayer, of penitence, and also that great outward devotion that leads the people to God. Forgive my boldness and also pray for me.” [262]

[NOTES:][260] Acta Synodalia sacrosancti Concili Oecumenici Vaticani II 1970-1980, (Typis Vaticanis, Citta del Vaticano 1970-199) I/3, pp.594-595
[261] P. Guéranger, De L’héresie antilurgique et de la reforme protestante du XVI siècle, considérée dans ses rapports avec la liturgie, tr. It. The Liturgical Heresy and the Protestant Reform. (Amicizia cristiana, Chieti 2008, p.27)
[262] AS, I/3, pp.594-595
[Roberto de Mattei, Il Concilio Vaticano II: una storia mai scritta (The Second Vatican Council – a never before written history) Chapter III - 1962 THE FIRST SESSION - No. 8 – The debate on the liturgy (the Latin question), pages 246-248.]


*Passionist Participation at Vatican II 

Passionist bishops taking part in the 1st Session of the Second Vatican Council: first row left to right: Bishops Legaristi, O'Gara, Peruzzo, Battistelli, Hagendorens, Fernández;  second row left to right: Bishops Muruaga, Pesce, Deane, Pellanda, Olwell, Sillekens. 

Giovanni Battista Peruzzo, C.P. Born in Molare, Italy on July 14, 1878. Ordained a Passionist priest on January 13, 1901. After his ordination, he preached in northern Italy. From 1901 until 1924, he conducted over three hundred apostolic missions. On January 18, 1924, appointed as an Auxiliary Bishop of Mantua, Italy and ordained on February 10, 1924. Appointed on October 19, 1928 as Bishop of Oppido Mametina, Italy. January 15, 1932 appointed as Bishop of Agrigento, Italy.  Elevated to Archbishop (personal title) in 1952. During his tenure information states that he created one hundred and thirty-seven new parishes and was pastorally active in service to his people. He was involved also with the reorganization of the catechism for children and adults. He paid attention to issues in the seminary and social issues as well. Of utmost concern was his care of refugees during World War II. He died on July 20, 1963 as Archbishop of Agrigento, Italy and therefore did not live to attend the entire Council which ended in 1965. He was, however, from the start of the Council, known to be a strong orthodox voice in his capacity as a member of the Theological Commission. One source quotes him as a man who "stood up in the fight for orthodoxy." Source of photo and biography: Passionist Historical Archives 

[Translation and research: Contributor Francesca Romana]


Francis said...

The FSSP Superiors/Rectors have been announced at the seminary news page -

NIANTIC said...

Holy,humble,wise and strong in faith was this Bishop. It is beautiful and sobering to read the warnings of a real Catholic Bishop. Warnings that were of course not heeded. For the life of me I cannot understand for one moment how the powers that be can be so blind and so careless about the Deposit of Faith entrusted to them. What have they wrought. And they willfully refuse to call for mea culpas and a prompt return to Traditional teaching and the True Mass. Lord have mercy!

rodrigo said...

to instruct the people better and urge them onto greater faith and love of God

Only the most embittered, blinkered foes of the New Springtime could fail to recognize that this has been the universal consequence of the post-conciliar liturgical reforms. Has the Church ever known a laity better instructed in the principles of their holy religion, or more faithful to - and loving of - their Lord and God?

Kathleen said...

Thank you, Francesca Romana and Rorate for this piece.

I always look forward to reading items submitted by Francesca Romana.

Such a gift from God, Archbishop Peruzzo was and remains. May his insights be put to good use!

Pray for us loyal servant of God, Bishop Giovanni Battista Peruzzo, C.P.!

Brian said...

when faced with the ideas proposed in the schema of the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy and on the wild liturgical ideas being openly discussed in the aula during the first session (1962)

This statement, and Archbishop Peruzzo's overall comments are not consistent with the neo-Conservative nonsensical mantra that the problems in the Church and liturgy do not lie with the Council itself, but are the exclusive result of post-Conciliar abuses.

Peter said...

Please! When will this book be available in English?

Anthony said...


December 4, 1988:

"The reform of the rites and the liturgical books was undertaken immediately after the promulgation of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium and was brought to an effective conclusion in a few years thanks to the considerable and selfless work of a large number of experts and bishops from all parts of the world.

"This work was undertaken in accordance with the conciliar principles of fidelity to tradition and openness to legitimate development; and so it is possible to say that the reform of the Liturgy is strictly traditional and in accordance with "the ancient usage of the holy Fathers".

"Given that the Liturgy is the school of the prayer of the Church, it has been considered good to introduce and develop the use of the vernacular – without diminishing the use of Latin, retained by the Council for the Latin Rite – so that every individual can understand and proclaim in his or her mother tongue the wonders of God (cf Acts 2:11).

"It has likewise been considered good to increase the number of Prefaces and Eucharistic Prayers, so as to enrich the Church’s treasury of prayer and an understanding of the mystery of Christ.

"...the vast majority of the pastors and the Christian people have accepted the liturgical reform in a spirit of obedience and indeed joyful fervour.

"For this we should give thanks to God for that movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church which the liturgical renewal represents;

"for the fact that the table of the word of God is now abundantly furnished for all;

"for the immense effort undertaken throughout the world to provide the Christian people with translations of the Bible, the Missal and other liturgical books;

"for the increased participation of the faithful by prayer and song, gesture and silence, in the Eucharist and the other sacraments; for the ministries exercised by lay people and the responsibilities that they have assumed in virtue of the common priesthood into which they have been initiated through Baptism and Confirmation;

"for the radiant vitality of so many Christian communities, a vitality drawn from the wellspring of the Liturgy.

"...the liturgical renewal is the most visible fruit of the whole work of the Council".

"For many people the message of the Second Vatican Council has been experienced principally through the liturgical reform."

New Catholic said...

Soon, I believe, Peter. We know the rights have already been sold to a Catholic publishing house, but, since we have not been told about it directly from the publishers themselves, we cannot say which.

Ricardo said...

Where do the venerable Eastern Rites fit into this? The Vernacular has been used for centuries in many of those Rites, such as in Ukraine (I think?). But he was speaking about the Roman Rite only I guess.

New Catholic said...


But language is not the only principle identified by Dom Guéranger.

NIANTIC said...

Regarding the Apostolic letter of John Paul ll quoted by ANTHONY.....These are the talking points for the "celebration" of the start of Vll later this year. And the Modernists believe in them too. Is this not absolutely amazing? I better not continue because what I wish to say loud and clear is not fit to print. Mercy.

Ferraiuolo said...

This is extraordinary. Every little snippet I read providentially ends up being a brief Catechesis for my spiritual and intellectual formation. There are many things out there that I do not know of the faith and honestly would not even know how to side myself on such issues. This is one of those examples.

St Augustine says that ignorance of one's faith can be a punishment. Well I am certainly trying bit by bit to solve that problem and all of you at Rorate Caeli have helped me deeply.

God rewards those who enrich the souls of others!

Sedes Sapientiae, ora pro nobis.

sam said...

All you have to do is read the letter quoted by Anthony to see that the VII promoters are in a state of delusion and exercise PR mastery. It is too bad that the progressives didn't listen to what Archbishop Peruzzo had to say, we would have had less issues and more of the faithful in the Church.

Matt said...

The Lord said a prophet is never accepted in his home town; and boy, was +Peruzzo prophetic. He saw things as they were and foresaw the damage which would transpire if they went through with their nonsense. That was a moment of the Holy Spirit. Too bad for us there aren't more bishops like Peruzzo.

KSW said...

I wish that he had translated more of the speech -- if there was more. I'm sorry, but I'm not that impressed: The bishop is clearly holy, brave, and bold, but in the end he was also _incorrect_: The botched translation of the banal liturgy did _not_ end with the schism of those who used it. It certainly coincided with the _heresy_ of many who used it, but there was no outright schism as there had been in France with the Gallicanists and Jansenists, etc.

P.K.T.P. said...

No, Ricardo is totally wrong. The Romanians were the first to be allowed to use the modern tongue in place of Church Slavonic, done there by permission of Leo XIII in the 1880s because Romanian is not a Slavic tongue.

The change to the vernacular in most Eastern churches occurred only in the 20th century. In the Ukraine, there are still some older priests who offer the Divine and Holy Liturgy only in Church Slavonic and not in modern Ukrainian. This is how it should be. The music heritage cannot easily be translated from Church Slavonic, and their liturgy is usually chanted.

Rodrigo: You're joking, I assume. A thorough U.S. poll shows that, today only 18% of American Catholics accept the teaching on transubstantiation. Most four year-olds in 1960 knew more about the Faith than catechists do today.


Gratias said...

Thank you Rorate Caeli for these articles on the real history of the Vatican Council 2. I am now learning that it is not that Bugnini the Freemason changed the intentions of the church fathers. I am now learning that the discussions in the Aula, propagated by the mainstream press, advocated exactly what we got out of VC2: the destruction of the Church in favor of a stupid vernacular liturgy facing the people instead of God.

The VC2 rot started long before 1962. I only have vague recollections, but my Usus Antiquitor masses as a small child had much more use of the vernacular than our current Forma Extraordinaria masses, and almost no Gregorian chant.

It will be a tough year to hold on to the Faith with this Evil anniversary being celebrated as a good thing by our enemy within the gates and by their the Freemason Press accompices. Rorate is doing the good work of reporting the way this switcheroo happened. Michael Davies next, perhaps?

This fight is not about sour grapes or that they won and we lost. Rather, we wish to demonstrate we do not need new interpretations (hermeneutics) of VC2, for what happened was exactly what was intended.

What we seek is to recover what we lost and, as we well know in present-day America, this is a very difficult proposition. But we do not have, nor want, any other alternative.

Once one experiences the long-forbidden Latin Mass one realizes the tremendous loss VC2 imposed on us. In defeat, defiance. And please, no new Councils in our lifetimes. The Modernists are likely to ge affected by their own propaganda and propose VC3 just to finish the Church off.

With the world now leaderless except for our Benedict XVI, I do believe that our best investment is in promoting and protectig the Traditional Latin liturgy.

Benedict Carter said...

Yes, the warnings from good Bishops and Popes and the Saints have been there for decades and decades.

And that's why the sin of the revolutionaries is even greater, for they have willfully embarked on a programme of destruction that had already, by the time Vatican II came along, been condemned.

When will the Hierarchy wake up and follow the path of penitence back to the real well-springs of the Catholic Faith, which are right doctrine and the un-deformed Sacraments? And I include this Pope in that. When will he wake up?

Stephen said...

Ricardo, it's a misnomer to say that the vernacular is used in Eastern rites. "Liturgical Slavonic" or "Liturgical Greek" or "Liturgical whatever" is what is used; the easiest equivalent for English speakers is the difference, say, between modern usage and the English of Shakespeare. Easterners know very well about the benefits of a sacred language, while not making it idolatrous.

WaterWorks said...

This is the hallmark that traditonalists must affirm and hammer home time and time again: it's not the spirit of the council; it's not the misinterpretation or misapplication of the council. It's the council itself.

If we don't espouse and hold to this, all we'll be doing is trying to take a continuous shower with our clothes on.

Petro said...

The Council didn't mess everything up. The Council was only the opening of a door. The New Mass changed the faith of most people and not in a good way.

Alan Aversa said...

Did this archbishop know and/or collaborate with Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.?