PopeWatch: School of Bologna


Hmmm, this is a very interesting post by Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa:




ROME, November 3, 2014 – At the end of October, Pope Francis received a delegation of Old Catholic bishops of the Union of Utrecht.

Numerically this is a very small group, but it is the bearer of a model of Church that pleases not a few progressive Catholics. It recognizes a primacy of honor for the pope, but it does not accept that he is infallible or has jurisdiction over the bishops. It has its bishops elected by a synod composed of clergy and laity. At Mass it gives Eucharistic communion to all, as long as they are baptized in one of the various Christian confessions. It administers collective absolution of sins. It allows second marriages for the divorced.

It also advocates a return to the early faith and recognizes as fully ecumenical only the first seven councils, those of the first millennium, when the Churches of West and East were still undivided.

And on this last point it converges with what is maintained by the Catholic “school of Bologna,” founded by Giuseppe Dossetti and Giuseppe Alberigo and directed today by Alberto Melloni, famous all over the world for having written and spread in five volumes translated into multiple languages the history of Vatican Council II that has undisputedly been the most successful, although it has been repeatedly excoriated by the Vatican.

For the “Bolognese” as well, in fact, only the councils that preceded the schism between West and East are fully ecumenical, as can be seen in their multi-volume edition of the “Conciliorum oecumenicorum generaliumque decreta,” criticized precisely for this reason by “L’Osservatore Romano” of June 3, 2007 with an unsigned official note attributed to Walter Brandmüller, today a cardinal.

That year and in subsequent years, Professor Melloni made no small effort to repair this breach and the other one provoked by the history of Vatican II.

In 2011, he came up with everything he could to ingratiate himself with Benedict XVI. He proposed that the pope pray in front of three Russian icons brought from Moscow to celebrate the critical edition of the Second Council of Nicaea edited by Melloni himself. He asked for a public audience to have him bless a facsimile edition of the Bible of Marco Polo to be sent to China, “where we have significant contacts.”

But without success. “There appears to be no possibility of an involvement of His Holiness in the initiatives mentioned,” was the frosty message to Melloni written by the substitute of the secretariat of state, Angelo Becciu. In part because “there remain reservations of a doctrinal character.”

But this happened under the reign of Benedict XVI. Because with the current pope, the “school of Bologna” is convinced that it has a clear road ahead.


An appointment, an international conference, a grandiose editorial project. These are the three acts that have inaugurated the new “Bolognese” course. All three under the banner of ecumenism.

The appointment, decided by Pope Francis last July 22, is that of friar Enzo Bianchi, founder and prior of the interconfessional monastery of Bose, as adviser of the pontifical council for Christian unity.

Bianchi, 71, was born in Piedmont and lives there, but for years he has been the true and undisputed leader of the “school of Bologna.” He is the only lifetime member of the administrative board of the “John XXIII Foundation for Religious Studies” that he oversees. And he is also the only one whom Melloni – very authoritarian with his subordinates – obeys with reverential fear.

Immediately after the appointment, in an interview, Bianchi revealed his expectations in the matter of ecumenism:

“I believe that Pope Francis wants to reach the unity of Christians in part by reforming the papacy. A papacy that is no longer feared, in the words of ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew, with whom the pope shares a bond of friendship. The reform of the papacy means a new balance between synodality and primacy. This would help to create a new style of papal primacy and of the governance of the bishops.”

The international conference that the Bolognese institute captained by Bianchi and Melloni have convened in Bose from November 26 to 28 will have precisely the task of preparing the terrain for this reform of the papacy, which in its current form is maintained to be the main obstacle to Christian unity.

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch suspects that far too many people in positions of power at the Vatican believe that utopia could be ushered in if only the Roman Catholic Church would cease to be the Roman Catholic Church.

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  1. The Ultrajectines have a rather curious history.
    In 1704, Catholics in the Dutch Republic were governed by Vicars Apostolic, one of whom, Peter Codde refused to sign the anti-Jansenist formula and was deposed. It was the old story; he was prepared to condemn the Five Propositions, but he denied they were contained in the Augustinus of Jansen.
    He was not without support amongst the local clergy, who refused to recognise the new Vatican appointee. In 1723, half-a-dozen or so constituted themselves the Chapter of Utrecht and elected Cornelius Steenhoven, the Vicar-General as their Archbishop, who was consecrated by Dominique MarieVarlet, formerly a missionary bishop in Canada (he was Bishop of Ascalon in partibus, and coadjutor to Pidou de Saint Olon, Bishop of Babylon) Later, three new dioceses were created, Haarlem, Deventer and Groningen.
    After the re-establishment of the hierarchy in the Netherlands in 1853, the Ultrajectines became known as the Old Catholics.
    By a curious quirk of ecclesiastical history, this rigorous (and tiny) sect of appellant Jansenists was approached by (mostly liberal) dissenters from Vatican I‘s declaration of papal infallibility in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for episcopal consecration of their bishop elect. These bodies formed the Union of Utrecht. Some High Anglicans, who had doubts about Apostolic Succession in the Church of England, also obtained episcopal consecration from them and this gave rise to some rather intriguing and colourful “episcopi vagantes,” in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
    They are now, in effect, a liberal, Protestant body. After all, if the judgment of the Holy See may be rejected on one point (whether the Five Propositions are in the Augustinus), why not on any, or all? Any check on private judgment has been removed.

  2. The centrifugal force has been given its head. If the Church is not riven by schism before the end of this papacy, it will be a miracle of God’s providence.

  3. Recall the famous “Ratzinger Proposal” – “Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millennium. When the Patriarch Athenagoras, on July 25, 1967, on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to Phanar, designated him as the successor of St. Peter, as the most esteemed among us, as one also presides in charity, this great Church leader was expressing the essential content of the doctrine of primacy as it was known in the first millennium. Rome need not ask for more. Reunion could take place in this context if, on the one hand, the East would cease to oppose as heretical the developments that took place in the West in the second millennium and would accept the Catholic Church as legitimate and orthodox in the form she had acquired in the course of that development, while, on the other hand, the West would recognize the Church of the East as orthodox and legitimate in the form she has always had.”

  4. From the article:

    “It is not easy to harmonize this vision with what is stated in the 2000 declaration “Dominus Iesus,” a cornerstone of the magisterium of the two previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI…”

    It is also not easy to harmonize those who claim this Pope is not trying to change Church teaching.

  5. The doctrine of the Primacy is one thing; the concrete form it has taken is another. That is the gist of the Ratzinger Proposal. Insofar as the School of Bologna goes beyond that, I am not concerned to defend them.

    As Bl John Henry Newman explained, “the progress of concentration was not the work of the Pope; it was brought about by the changes of times and the vicissitudes of nations. It was not his fault that the Vandals swept away the African sees, and the Saracens those of Syria and Asia Minor, or that Constantinople and its dependencies became the creatures of Imperialism, or that France, England, and Germany would obey none but the author of their own Christianity, or that clergy and people at a distance were obstinate in sheltering themselves under the majesty of Rome against their own fierce kings and nobles or imperious bishops, even to the imposing forgeries on the world and on the Pope in justification of their proceedings. All this will be fact, whether the Popes were ambitious or not; and still it will be fact that the issue of that great change was a great benefit to the whole of Europe.”
    Theological development is often prompted by historical circumstances and is no less legitmate on that account.

  6. Phillip wrote, “It is also not easy to harmonize those who claim this Pope is not trying to change Church teaching.”

    The Holy Father has recently stated his own view of the Petrine Office, “being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).” That is Vatican I verbatim, so no change there.

  7. The Old Catholics are the bearer of a model of Church that pleases not a few progressive Catholics. It recognizes a primacy of honor for the pope, but it does not accept that he is infallible or has jurisdiction over the bishops. It has its bishops elected by a synod composed of clergy and laity. At Mass it gives Eucharistic communion to all, as long as they are baptized in one of the various Christian confessions. It administers collective absolution of sins. It allows second marriages for the divorced. check, check, check, check, and check. What is not for Francis to like? But… how is their economics? Is it socialist, is it sound? Do they recognize the primacy of the State? Could be a sticking point.

  8. And, really–appointing Bianchi kinda makes a hash of this little bit of verbal stroking the Pope tossed at one of the opponents of the Bologna School.


    Personnel is policy, and the Pope’s personnel are increasingly bad news. If you’re of a more traditional bent and you’re satisfied with the occasional bit of message from the Pope, he’s happy to oblige. Because that’s *all* you’re going to get from him.

  9. Tasmin asked, “Do they recognize the primacy of the State?”

    In the Netherlands, they relied on the (largely Calvinist) States-General to protect them against Rome, as they did in Germany in the 19th century.

    One recalls that, in France, the Parlement of Paris was a great ally of the Jansenists, as it was of the Gallicans.

  10. “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.”
    – from St. Teresa of Jesus.

    Good advice. This storm will pass. The cleansing rains will wash away particles not made to enhance the brilliance of the vessel. These particles, dust, will exit just as fast as it settled, in a blink of an eye….for if it’s not of God it will not stand.

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