Famed monastery to reopen property after founder refuses second order to exile

Famed monastery to reopen property after founder refuses second order to exile

The Bose Monastic complex in northern Italy. (Credit: Google Maps.)

After closing one of their locations and setting it aside for the exclusive use of their founder, Italy’s Bose Monastery has announced their decision to reopen the property after the refusal of founder Enzo Bianchi to leave after twice being ordered to do so by the Vatican.

ROME – After closing one of their locations and setting it aside for the exclusive use of their founder, Italy’s Bose Monastery has announced a decision to reopen the property after the refusal of founder Enzo Bianchi to leave after being ordered to do so by the Vatican.

In a statement posted to their website, the Monastery of Bose said that it is “with deep bitterness” that they are making public the fact that “Brother Enzo did not go to Cellole in the time indicated by the decree of the pontifical delegate.”

Earlier this month, Father Amedeo Cencini, pontifical delegate to the Monastery of Bose, announced the decision by the monastery to close its location in Cellole, which opened in 2013, stripping it of any association with the community.

The reason was to allow Bianchi to permanently relocate there after being ordered to move out of the monastery last year following a Vatican investigation. Several members of the monastery wanting to live with Bianchi were also granted permission to move to Cellole with him extra domum, meaning “outside the home.”

Closing the Cellole property was a decision made after Bianchi initially refused to leave after being ordered out last May at the close of an inquiry into the internal life of the community.

In 2019 the Vatican launched an investigation into the Bose Monastery after receiving complaints from community members that there 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.”

Founded in the 1960s by Bianchi, a lay monk, the monastery is a community of men and women belonging to different Christian confessions, but who live a common life of prayer, poverty, celibacy, and obedience to the Gospel.

Bianchi himself has enjoyed the favor of popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis for his ecumenical efforts, and has participated in several high-profile Vatican meetings.

He stepped down from leadership of Bose in 2017. Two years later, an investigation was launched, the result of which was Bianchi and three other members of Bose – two brothers and one sister – being asked to move out of the community and to cease their functions in it.

The announcement of the investigation and subsequent decision by the Vatican was made in May, but Bianchi refused to leave, arguing that he would not be able to find another suitable place to live.

In a statement published Feb. 8, the Bose Monastery said Bianchi issued a written acceptance of a second Vatican decree ordering him to move to Cellole before the beginning of the Church’s Lenten season on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17.

However, in their statement Thursday the monastery said that despite closing the Cellole property and making all the arrangements for Bianchi’s welcome, the founder failed to arrive by the agreed date.

“The move of Br. Enzo to Cellole would have helped to ease the tension and suffering of all and would have facilitated the slow path of reconciliation and mutual understanding,” the monastery said, adding, “unfortunately the outstretched hand was not accepted.”

At this point, they said the community now has the arduous task of reopening the Cellole property, since its formal closure would have taken place only upon Bianchi’s arrival.

“We thank the Holy See for how it is accompanying us and confirming us,” they said, adding, “we once again entrust our journey to the prayers of friends and guests.”

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen

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