ROME — The Vatican has disciplined another charismatic religious leader, exiling the founder of an Italian monastic community over governance problems.
Enzo Bianchi, a Catholic layman who founded the Bose Monastery in northern Italy, had enjoyed the blessing of three popes for his outreach to other Christians. He was appointed an ecumenical expert for Vatican meetings in 2008, 2012 and 2018, and Pope Francis named him as an adviser to the Vatican’s ecumenical office in 2014.
But the Vatican launched an investigation last year after what the community said were “a series of concerns from the Holy See that indicated a tense situation and problems concerning the exercise of authority by the founder, governance issues and the fraternal climate in the community.”
Bianchi, 77, started the community during the 1960s and handed off its leadership in 2017, but apparently the transition didn’t go smoothly.
According to a statement on the monastery website Wednesday, the Vatican ordered Bianchi and three others to leave the community and to cease all their functions in it. The order came down confidentially on May 13, but the community said it was making the Vatican’s decision public after some of those involved refused to abide by the directive, “creating a situation of confusion and further unpleasantness.”
In a series of tweets in recent days, Bianchi hinted at the Vatican decision, referring to the “weakness of every law” and how even humiliation can be glorified.
“What is decisive to determine the value of a life isn’t the quantity of things we’ve done but the love we’ve lived in each of our actions; even when the things we’ve done are finished, love remains as an indelible mark,” he wrote in a tweet posted Sunday.
In recent years, the Vatican has cracked down on a host of leaders of new religious movements or communities for sexual or financial misconduct or abuse of authority and governance problems. In this case, the problems appeared to be that the monastery’s new prior couldn’t lead with Bianchi still on the scene.