A new bishop for Lourdes, and a good sign

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.


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  1. irishgirl says:

    I saw this news last Saturday (the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes), while attempting to read the announcement in French on the diocesan website, as well as seeing his name on the ‘Catholic Hierarchy’ website.
    I think Bishop Brouwet is the second-youngest in France age-wise.
    I remember on my first visit to Lourdes in 1986 coming across the French Bishops concelebrating Mass in the Grotto. I took a couple of photos of them.
    And during that same time I was there, the Lefebvrists’ ‘Pilgrimage de Christ-Roi’ (Christ The King Pilgrimage) took place. They couldn’t hold any ceremony at the Grotto, so they had to go across the Gave River to do their procession. An English-speaking pilgrim group was staying at the hotel I was at, so I tagged along after them and joined in the procession.
    Let’s hope that Bishop Brouwet’s appointment is a good one for the Church in France!
    Good job in choosing him, Papa Benedict and Cardinal Ouellet!

  2. Lucas says:

    I pray that Pope Benedict gives Baltimore a great Bishop. There are some churches around here that leave a lot to be desired.

  3. Random Friar says:

    I sympathize about “underachieving,” and not being elevated to the episcopacy. But, as the saying goes, while eagles may soar, weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.

    I am a priest, a happy priest!

    Thanks be to God that He has found someone worthy and good for the people of Lourdes. Ad MULTOS annos!

  4. JLCG says:

    The Church in France may not be what it was but it is still a vibrant church.
    Every Sunday I read in the portal of the Catholic Church the commentaries on the readings of the day and I tell you they are fantastic.
    I hope that this bishop does not insist in saying a mass that nobody understands.
    This morning I had the example of what is disruptive in church. The young priest that was celebrating said the Sanctus in Latin and some of us followed him but in front of me there was a young mother with two young daughters that were completely baffled.
    We have now a traditional mass which is the one that is celebrated everywhere. The older mass is simply a relic.
    What Summorum Pontificum has achieved is to allow the enemies of the Church to attack her and her bishops while elevating the pope in a sort of apotheosis above the church.
    While the English language is becoming more and more like Chinese, no conjugations, no relative pronouns, no oblique cases, we are confronted with the spectacle of demands for the public in general to use a flexion language. It is nonsense.

  5. Random Friar says:

    If I am using the simple Latin chants, I usually direct the congregation to the proper place in the hymnals. Even Breaking Bread has it (#850-something…)

  6. NoTambourines says:

    JCLG– there’s plenty to take issue with there, but your comments seem to discount people’s ability to learn. Mom and the kids might have been surprised this week, but next week or the week after that, they might know the Sanctus in Latin.

    In fact, I think the bigger problem might be that adults would be that unfamiliar with the liturgy not to know at least by name what the Sanctus is, and it is a flaw in Catholic education. I know the Gloria and Sanctus in Latin because I sang in my public university’s choir in college, not through any Church institution, after kindergarten through 12th grade in Catholic schools. I learned about the Divine Office first in college music history, not in any religious context.

    But here’s something that I don’t get: capable people who snap up the latest technologies and gadgets develop this selective paralysis when asked to expand their minds to consider the traditions of the church, or to develop their knowledge beyond what they’ve become complacent with. It’s like the church musicians or choir members I know who say “I can’t read notes,” and that’s that. New skills? Applying new knowledge? Ain’t gonna happen.

  7. NoTambourines says:

    JLCG, I mean. Apologies for the misspelling.

  8. NoraLee9 says:


    Latin is the official language of the church.
    My 14-year old can handle Latin.
    In this Internet age, are there REALLY Catholics who haven’t heard Holy Holy Holy done as Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus? In order to get to the sports channels, you still have to scroll past EWTN.
    Even the Novus Ordo Missalette gives the answer key for the Latin parts.
    I’ll stop here.

  9. disco says:


    Those opposed to the traditional mass are the real relics.

  10. TNCath says:

    What’s up with the white biretta on the deacon to the bishop’s right?

  11. Phil_NL says:

    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.

    Well, one wouldn’t expect a promising young bishop to be sheparding a single see – even one as important as Lourdes – for 25 years. If Bp. Brouwet is indeed a rising star in France, it will be interesting to see what happens around 2020. Then no less than three of the classical cardinalatal sees in France would need new bishops – Tours, Bordeaux and Marseille. By promoting Bp Brouwet now, he’ll be excellently positioned to take up one of those sees. Which may in fact have been a reason for his promotion, otherwise Bp brouwet would have almost certainly missed that round; making it all but impossible for him to join that new generation of cardinals.

  12. Nathan says:

    TNCath: I believe the white biretta is worn by the Norbertine Fathers. Some of that order have been working hard for the restoration of the TLM and for the restoration of traditional liturgical practices in the Ordinary Form, if I’m not mistaken.

    In Christ,

  13. New Sister says:

    JLCC – I’ve gone on the International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes twice, and visited one other time on my own. Lourdes is where I most experience the need for Latin in our Liturgy. It is a beautiful thing to be standing, as I was at a closing Mass there, with a Czech, an Italian, a Frenchman, all praying in the same language. Besides, most French children know the ordinary prayers of the Mass perfectly – it is they who motivated me to learn them myself, hearing them sing so beautifully when I first moved there.

    I love Lourdes and hope this new Bishop will clean out the bits of modernism that sneak their way into its sanctuary. One that I have been praying some years for Our Lady to trample out is to get a Crucifix (rather than a bare cross that looks like spray-painted plywood) over the main altar in the main church.

  14. Singing Mum says:

    Great news about Lourdes! This allows for more liturgical *diversity* and more linguistic *unity*.
    JLCC, at a high estimate, only 10% of the universal Church are English speakers. Get global, why don’t you!
    And try not to sound so bitter toward your fellow Catholics who love the Church’s traditions. Your tone shadows any points you want to make. Simply put, a negative ‘tude wins no one over to your argument.

    Meanwhile, the FSSP parish I attend is growing by 10% every year… lots of large families, lots of people who speak different languages at home, lots of outreach to the poor, lots of small group study, busy choir and servers, active teens, lots of LIFE. Can you say that of your parish?

    Oh, and one more tip- Silly Catholic, relics are GOOD things!

  15. akp1 says:

    I really find it sad when I visit a Shrine or such and attend an ‘International Mass’ said in various languages, when we have the one unifying language of the Church – Latin. It is our heritage; and for those who say ‘ but Vatican II’ etc, please actually read the documents, you might be suprised!

  16. StabatMater says:

    I am listening to my 7 year old chant the Mass in the Extraordinary form right now, as he does day in and day out, Deo Gratias! We have been attending TLM for nearly 18 months, and my family has never been so alive and in complete awe of Our Lord and His Holy Church.
    Latin is the universal language of the Church because it UNIFIES us all. The Novus Ordo, as it has declined, has done nothing more than encourage parishes to develop into indivuidual ministry-based models of protestantism. We have, to our detriment, become “just like them” when we are called to be set apart.
    The TLM is far easier to understand than the Novus Ordo as it is made up of all that truly speaks to the SOUL. Times may have changed, the world may change, but the human condition has not.
    If my family were to travel to France, Spain, Africa, anywhere– certainly we would take time to learn some of the language and, at the very least, not insult it. As Catholics we have an obligation to expose ourselves and our children to Latin as our “native” tongue, and, at the very least, revere it.
    The study of Latin and our new devotion to the Mass in Extraordinary form has taught our family who we REALLY are, and, moreover, who God Almighty REALLY is. And He is not “just one of us” as the Novus would have us believe. Nor should our priests be viewed as “just one of us,” when indeed each is In Persona Christi.
    My children have improved academically and in all areas of self-discipline since we began Sunday attendance of TLM. I can’t imagine what would happen if we had access to this gift daily! I’ll let you know how they make out on the SAT when they are older ;), but my experience thus far has shown me that Holy Mother Church took care of all of our needs when our bishops were more concerned with the sacredness of the liturgy than political gain.

  17. Centristian says:

    “Pope Joseph Ratzinger”

    What’s up with that?

  18. Ambrose Jnr says:

    JLCG – Last time I was in France, I attended the daily novus ordo Mass at the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The only parts where the whole congregation could participate were the parts chanted in Latin…for the parts of the Mass in French, 90% of the pilgrims were lost…time to move out of French parochialism towards universalism…

    Obviously, there were no kneelers at Notre Dame…surprise, surprise, the young global catholics kneeled on the cold tough floor during the consecration and after receiving communion…shockingly appropriate.

    God bless you.

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