Louis Bouyer

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Fr Louis Bouyer
Born(1913-02-17)17 February 1913
Paris, France
Died22 October 2004(2004-10-22) (aged 91)
Paris, France
OccupationClergyman and scholar
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
(formerly Lutheran)
Congregations served
Oratory of Jesus

Louis Bouyer, Cong. Orat. (17 February 1913 – 22 October 2004) was a French Lutheran minister who was received into the Catholic Church in 1939. During his religious career he was a scholar who was relied upon during the Second Vatican Council.

He was known for his books on Christian spirituality and its history. Along with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and others, he was a co-founder of the international review Communio. He was chosen by the pope to be part of a team to initiate the International Theological Commission in 1969.


Born into a Protestant family in Paris, Louis Bouyer, after a receiving a degree from the Sorbonne, studied theology with the Protestant faculties of Paris and then Strasbourg. He was ordained a Lutheran minister in 1936 and served as vicar of the Lutheran parish of the Trinity in Paris until World War II. In 1939, the study of the christology and ecclesiology of St. Athanasius of Alexandria led Bouyer to the Catholic Church.

Received into the Catholic Church in the Abbey of Saint-Wandrille (Seine-Maritime) in 1944, he entered the congregation of the priests of the Oratory, and remained with them the rest of his life. He was a professor at the Catholic Institute of Paris until 1963 and then taught in England, Spain, and the United States. In 1969 he wrote the book The Decomposition of Catholicism, which presented what he saw as important liturgical and dogmatic problems in the Church.

Twice appointed by the pope to the International Theological Commission, he was a consultant at the Second Vatican Council for the liturgy, the Congregation of Sacred Rites and Secretariat for Christian Unity. In 1999 he received the Cardinal-Grente prize of the French Academy for all his work. He died 22 October 2004 in Paris, a victim of many years of Alzheimer's. He was buried in the cemetery of the Abbey of Saint-Wandrille.

Published works in English[edit]

  • The Paschal Mystery. Meditations on the Last Three Days of Holy Week (1951)
  • Life and Liturgy (Liturgical Piety) (1955)
  • The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism (1956)
  • Newman: His Life and Spirituality (London: Burns & Oates, 1958)
  • Introduction to Spirituality (1961)
  • The Word, Church and Sacraments in Protestantism and Catholicism (1961)
  • Liturgy and Architecture (1967)
  • The Decomposition of Catholicism (Chicago, 1969)
  • The Spirituality of the New Testament and the Fathers (History of Christian Spirituality; v. 1) (1982)
  • The Spirituality of the Middle Ages (History of Christian Spirituality; v. 2) (1982)
  • Eucharist: Theology and Spirituality of the Eucharistic Prayer (1989)
  • The Church of God: Body of Christ and Temple of the Holy Spirit (2011)
  • The Memoirs of Louis Bouyer: From Youth and Conversion to Vatican II, the Liturgical Reform, and After (Angelico Press, August 2015)



  • "Le métier de théologien" - Interviews with Georges Daix, Éditions France-Empire, 1979.
  • "Trois liturgistes. Héritage et actualité. Louis Bouyer, Pierre Jounel, Pierre-Marie Gy", review La Maison-Dieu, No. 246, 2006, 183 p.
  • De Rémur, Guillaume Bruté. La théologie trinitaire de Louis Bouyer, Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, Rome, 2010, 378 p.
  • Duchesne, Jean. Louis Bouyer, ed. Artège, Perpignan, 2011, 127 p.
  • Zordan, Davide. Connaissance et mystère. L'itinéraire théologique de Louis Bouyer, Paris: Editions du Cerf, 2008, 807 p.

External links[edit]