This may be old new for some of you, but it is nice to have good news once in a while.. and repetita iuvant.
On the site of Sandro Magister I was reminded that the Holy Father took personal interest in appointing the new bishop of the Diocese of Lourdes in France, a young bishop -hitherto auxiliary in Nanterre, Most Rev. Nicholas Brouwet, who has a bit of a traditional liturgy streak in him. He is only 50 and was ordained in 1992, which makes me feel a bit of an underachiever… thanks be to God.
Of note in the article is that the new Bishop of Lourdes was in the Institute of St. John, founded by the late Hans Urs von Balthasar. Since the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, Marc Card. Ouellet is in that orbit, it is not a surprise that Brouwet’s name could have been fast tracked to Pope Benedict’s desk.
VATICAN CITY, February 17, 2012 – Following the “personal” appointment of Bishop Francis Moraglia as patriarch of Venice, Benedict XVI has hit a similar shot with the Church of France.
He did so last Saturday, February 11, the feast of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, when he appointed the new bishop of the diocese in which the famous Marian shrine stands, that of Tarbes and Lourdes. Pope Joseph Ratzinger has called to this post Nicolas Brouwet, who will turn 50 next August 31, since April of 2008 the auxiliary bishop of Nanterre, the diocese in which he was born and was ordained a priest in 1992.
The appointment came earlier than expected, since Brouwet’s predecessor, Bishop Jacques Perrier, in office since 1997, passed the retirement age of 75 last December 4, and has therefore had just a couple of months of “prorogatio.”
The choice of Brouwet, like that of Moraglia, did not go through the scrutiny of the cardinals and bishops of the relevant congregation in one of their regular Thursday meetings. Both will take possession of their respective dioceses on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation.
It is easy to think that the prefect of the congregation for bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, appreciated the fact that Brouwet is a member of the “Johannesgemeinschaft”, the Institute of St. John founded by the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. Ouellet, in fact, is himself a great admirer and was a friend of the Swiss theologian, whose thought he discussed in his doctoral thesis in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Bishop Brouwet, however, although he is young, is recognized as having a liturgical sensibility that is particularly faithful to tradition. Last December 25, he celebrated Christmas Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, according to the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum.” He has also participated in the traditionalist pilgrimages from Paris to Chartres on Pentecost. His stance on moral issues is also in keeping with tradition.
This does not mean that Brouwet is a traditionalist tout court; it is enough to see his official photos in clerical dress to understand this. He belongs instead to that generation of young priests who, like pope Ratzinger, consider the traditionalist world – very lively in France even in its non-Lefebvrist component – more as a resource than as a problem, unlike the progressive old guard of the episcopate, less and less influential, but also the “Lustigerian” generation that now embodies its leadership, through figures like the cardinal of Paris, André Vingt-Trois, or the archbishop of Rennes, Pierre d’Ornellas.
Lourdes is not a cardinal diocese [read: not associated with the “red hat” like some large, important dioceses], but with its famous Marian shrine it is like the spiritual heart of France. It is there, in fact, that the plenary assembly of French bishops regularly meets. Not to mention the international dimension of the diocese. Faithful, seminarians, priests, bishops and cardinals from around the world arrive there. Some problems of an administrative nature that have been seen recently in the diocese have been monitored with special attention by the Holy See as well.
For all these reasons, it is even more significant that Benedict XVI has entrusted the diocese of Lourdes to a young bishop with well-defined characteristics like Brouwet.