Late October, 1971. The victory was almost complete.
The Missale Romanum, 1970 had been signed and promulgated. The date of mandatory adoption…November 30, The First Sunday of Advent, had been set.
For the first time in 400 years, the Mass of the Roman Rite would not be the Mass as codified after a long period of organic development and set under the Bull of Pius V, who brought order to the Church after the disaster of the Protestant Revolt, but rather a new composition, partly fabricated in a Swiss hotel by a “Consilium” headed by a monsignor, Annibale (Hannibal!) Bugnini, who had been removed from liturgical duties by John XXIII, only to be rehired by Paul VI.
Was there protest? Some, especially in Europe, Australia, parts of America, and in French Africa, where a tireless missionary had built scores of churches, hospitals, schools and roads for decades in the bush.
Was there any accomodation? Some. The aged could continue to use the now “former rite”. With permission. Only alone.
Dozens of British intellectuals protested, accusing Paul VI of destroying a Western cultural icon. A modest concession was granted to England and Wales. Monsignor Bugnini insisted it be given “little or no publicity” in a note he appended to the concession.
By 1974, there were holdouts. Notably the movement centered around that bishop from French Africa, whose parents had been lost to the Nazis, and who railed against Communism at Vatican II (to no avail).
Bugnini - now a bishop himself (though with zero pastoral responsibilities) - moved to secure his trump card - Decretum Abrogationis - a Decree of Abrogation. In other words, kill it. If you don’t kill your enemy - he may rise to strike back.
Request denied. Perhaps the ball was already rolling - in half a year he was fired from liturgy (again) and sent to Tehran.
1976, Paul VI met with the so-called “archbishop of Canterbury”. Hugged him. Gave him a pectoral cross (a grave scandal). Paul also met that French archbishop, who went to kiss his ring on bended knee. Paul pulled back his hand and asked if he came as a brother or an enemy.
Thirty years later, the Mass Paul and Annibale intended to see all but forgotten lives on.