9 June 2015

The Primatial See of Malines

Not so very long ago, the Tradisphere was pulsating with appehension that Mgr Pietro Marini would be put in charge of the Congregation for Worship. The apprehensions were, to a degree, understandable; Marini, in that job, would have been a very gravely divisive figure; moreover, a book which was ghost-written for him calls his liturgical competence most seriously into question. He never was appointed. I never thought he would be, even if simply because of his age. Instead, the Holy Father made a fine and most appropriate appointment.

Now there are similar apprehensions about the See of Malines. The fear-figure, tradispherically, is now Bishop Bonny, who, like Marini, is also, to an extreme degree, a divisive figure who has adopted for himself a high profile. What seems to me most radically problematic about him is the letter he wrote before the last Synod in which he called into question the letter Humanae vitae of Blessed Paul VI on the grounds that it did not emerge in the way Bishop Bonny thinks it should have done, from a collegial collaboration between the Pope and the Bishops. This seems to me tantamount to attacking the two basic roles the Bishop of Rome has in the Universal Church: of obstructing innovation and preserving the Tradition; and of being the principle of Unity in the visible Church Militant.

My trust in the good sense of our beloved Holy Father inclines me to be as suspicious of this rumour as I was of the Marini rumour.

What has Malines to do with me? Bonds of affection. Memories of dear Cardinal Mercier, of the 'Malines Conversations' which he sponsored; Mercier, the saintly godfather of the great dream of an 'Anglican Church united but not absorbed'. This was the principle which so magnificently was given reality when Benedict XVI founded the Ordinariates.

I cannot convince myself that Bishop Bonny, with his clearly markered desire to be divisive, would be a proper person to wear the mitre of as great a man as Cardinal Mercier, who devoted so much effort to bringing divided Christians into unity.

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