The tensions between the former prior and his successor from 2017 are too heavy, father Luciano Manicardi, in a turbulent handover “as regards the exercise of the authority of the founder and the fraternal climate”, as stated in a press release issued by the Community of Bose which declares that it has preserved the confidentiality of the provision until the end ‘Oltretevere. At least until it was faced with resistance from some recipients of punitive measures.
The Holy See’s move comes in the aftermath of an apostolic visit (a sort ofinspection), ordered by the Pope and held from 6 December 2019 to 6 January last in order to verify the level of tension between the old and the new guard of the monastic community. At the end of the survey, the visitors gave the Holy See a report prepared on the basis of the testimonies given by each member of the religious institute. A work of discernment followed, culminating in the penalties for Bianchi and the other three monks, as well as the indication of some main lines for a process of renewal of the reality of Bose itself.
Known not only in Italy, the monastic community represents a fixed point on the side of the ecumenical dialogue. From the beginning, ever since the twenty-two year old Bianchi, after graduating in Economics, decided to retire to an abandoned farmhouse in Bose together with other young people, including a Protestant. Today among the 90 religious, of both sexes, who animate the monastery there are both Catholics and reformed. Men and women who experiment, on the model of what happened from 1940 to Taizé, the dream of a possible coexistence among Christians, beyond the various confessions. In a life marked by silence, prayer and work, in the orchard, in the publishing house or in the carpentry shop.
At the beginning of their experience for the monks of Bose, relations with the ecclesial institution were rather complicated. A couple of years after the foundation, the then bishop of Biella, Carlo Rossi, arranged interdict, the penalty with which participation in all or some sacred functions held in a certain place is forbidden, in this case the community of Father Bianchi. The reason was to be found precisely in the life under the same roof of Catholic and Protestant religious.To unlock the situation was the intercession of an enlightened cardinal like the archbishop of Turin, Michele Pellegrino. In 2000 the official recognition of the canonical juridical personality will arrive. The goodness of one of the many fruits of the Council had been rewarded.
In these fifty five years of Christian service thousands of pilgrims they climbed the hills of Biella to find peace and fraternity. As expected, the news of Father Bianchi’s departure has generated confusion and concern for many admirers of the lay religious. Starting from the emeritus bishop of Ivrea, the conciliar father Luigi Bettazzi, born in 1923, for which the hope is that “the reasons for the conflict between the prior and the ex are linked to marginal situations so that a reconciliation can be achieved for the good of all”. Of “painful laceration” within a community born “in the name of knowledge and fidelity to the Scriptures, in freedom and in fraternity” speaks, instead, the writer Gabriella Caramore, very tied to Bose’s spirituality.
For Father Bianchi, who has always supported a return to Church of the origins, among other things, in the sign of a concrete enhancement of the role of women (see support for the restoration of the female diaconate), the landing on Bergoglio’s Petrine throne had represented the start of an even more relaxed atmosphere at an ideal level with the high Catholic spheres. He had not reckoned with the curial resistance, far from irrelevant, to his ecclesial vision, if it is true that for certain traditionalist circles his name is inscribed in the black list of heretics. But, at the same time, the monk perhaps did not manage to harmonize at best, even more after the handover at the helm of Bose, the internal tensions of those who, conscious of his charisma, always risk collapsing under the weight of a certain unconcern authoritarianism.
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