Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Big news: Le Barroux is (officially) Benedictine!

I have to break my little blogging break for some big news - Le Barroux has finally been admitted as a member of the Benedictine Confederation, and so is now officially recognised by its peers as Benedictine!

This may seem a rather obscure, rather bureaucratic thing, since most everyone (well in the wider world outside a few dying monasteries anyway) has always accepted Le Barroux, the original traditionalist monastery, as the very epitome of what it means to be Benedictine, but it is really big news in terms of monastic politics!

It is one of the little known oddities about Benedictines that they aren't really an order as such. Unlike the Dominicans, or most other religious institutes, there is no central governing body that can control what individual Benedictine monasteries do - instead every house is essentially autonomous (although in practice they mostly group together in congregations, some of which are more tightly organized than others).
So, when Benedictine monasteries have been reconciled to the Church, as Le Barroux was back in 1988, they didn't have to change their name to avoid problems with existing orders (unlike for example the Transalpine Redemptorists, or the Fraternity of St Vincent Ferrer).

Still, there is this thing called the Benedictine Confederation that is the nominal co-ordinating body of (most) Benedictines (though it doesn't include a number of groups who follow the Rule of St Benedict, such as the Cistercians and Trappists).

And it has long been a festering sore that the Confederation has refused to admit to its ranks the traditionalist monasteries such as Le Barroux and Flavigny. But now it seems that has changed, presumably another flow-on from Summorum Pontificum. You can read a little more of the background in the report from the Abbot of Christ in the Desert Monastery here.
Another positive sign that things are finally changing, and traddies are (finally) being recognized as part of the mainstream of the Church.


Louise said...

How is Le Barroux traddie? I thought they used the OF of the Mass.

Terra said...

No, Le Barroux has always exclusively used the Extraordinary Form, one of only two monasteries who maintained its use throughout the dark years (Flavigny was the other one, although it was forced to give up the EF for its conventual mass when it gained formal recognition in the mid 1980s).

A couple of other monasteries, such as Fontgombault, were forced to drop the EF for a period (on the threat of excommunication) but started using it again as soon as the indult was granted in 1984/88.

The founder of Le Barroux, Dom Gerard, left his original monastery planning when it went modern post Vatican II and started out as a hermit. A small group quickly formed around him, and the monk's were originally closely associated with Archbishop LeFebvre. Dom Gerard broke with him, however, when he ordained the three bishops in 1988 contrary to the Pope's directions (and was excommunicated).

Because Le Barroux insisted on using the traditional mass (and maintaining previous monastic traditions dropped by most other monasteries in the 1970s and 1980s), it wasn't able to gain formal recognition as a monastery until 1988, when the Holy See formally approved it canonically and raised it to abbey status.

You can read more on both Flavigny and Le Barroux in the most recent editions of the journal Oriens!

Stephen said...


Megan said...

How does one obtain the latest issue of Oriens ?

Terra said...

You can find details on how to subscribe to Oriens here (and a link to past articles etc from it is on the right sidebar under Oz websites of interest):