Ottaviani Intervention

The Ottaviani Intervention

The Ottaviani Intervention (or Short Critical Study on the New Order of Mass) was a short study of 5 June 1969 sent to Pope Paul VI by Cardinals Alfredo Ottaviani and Antonio Bacci with a covering letter dated 25 September 1969. It asked that what they called "the integral and fruitful Missal of St. Pius V" should not be superseded by the revised rite of Mass, which had been promulgated by the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum of 3 April 1969, and which was due to enter into force at the end of November that year.

Main authors of the study were some well-known Roman theologians and university professors, including the Dominican priest Guérard des Lauriers, who worked under the direction of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

Shortly afterwards, when Pope Paul VI had spoken at the general audiences of 19 and 26 November 1969 of the changes in the Mass, Cardinal Ottaviani declared:

I have rejoiced profoundly to read the Discourse by the Holy Father on the question of the new Ordo Missae, and especially the doctrinal precisions contained in his discourses at the public Audiences of November 19 and 26, after which I believe no one can any longer be genuinely scandalized [by the new rite's sacrificial character]. As for the rest, a prudent and intelligent catechesis must be undertaken to solve some legitimate perplexities which the text is capable of arousing.

Jean Madiran, a critic of Vatican II, and editor of the French journal Itinéraires, claimed that this letter was fraudulently presented to the elderly and already blind cardinal for his signature by his secretary, Monsignor (and future Cardinal) Gilberto Agustoni, and that Agustoni resigned shortly afterwards. Monsignor Agustoni resigned as Cardinal Ottaviani's secretary in 1970 to join the Ecclesiastical Magistrature as Prelate Auditor of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota , and there is no evidence to suggest his departure was anything more than a routine change of assignment. Furthermore, Jean Madiran admits that he was not in the room to see this alleged deception of Cardinal Ottaviani.

Cardinal Ottaviani at least remained critical of liturgical deviations, as has been the Holy See, but was severely weakened physically after 1970 due to blindness and vascular complications. He died on 3 August 1979.


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