Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Church's Vice-Principal

Changing gears a bit, last Saturday saw the long-anticipated appointment of a new #2 official at the Congregation for Catholic Education.

After an unusually long vacancy at the crucial dicastery that oversees Catholic colleges, universities and seminaries around the world, the Pope named Bishop Jean-Louis Bruguès of Angers to the post. The French Dominican, who turns 64 next week, succeeds Canadian Archbishop Michael Miller CSB, who B16 named in June as coadjutor to Archbishop Raymond Roussin of Vancouver, one of the fastest-growing local churches in the English-speaking world.

Now an archbishop, Bruguès' appointment has garnered wide praise in educational and theological circles. A former provincial in his home-country and onetime professor of moral theology at Fribourg, the incoming secretary took a leave from the Swiss university to study genetical engineering in San Francisco. Reportedly a key player in the drafting of Veritatis splendor -- John Paul II's reign-defining 1993 encyclical -- Bruguès is also said to be a reliably honest voice, regardless of his audience.

Appointed to Angers in 2000, he's fluent in English, Spanish, German and Italian in addition to his native tongue. While four residential cardinals have been called to lead Roman dicasteries over the course of this pontificate, the new Cath Ed. lieutenant is the first rank-and-file bishop recruited for Curial duty.