Archbishop of Malines (Belgium) and protector of Jansenism in its initial stages; b. Antwerp, Oct. 11, 1573; d. Brussels, June 30, 1655. Boonen was born into a family of jurists, studied law at the University of Louvain, received his licentiate, and became a lawyer at the Council of Brabant in 1596. He then entered upon an ecclesiastical career. He became a canon in 1604 and was ordained in 1611. He was made officialis of Malines in 1608; ecclesiastical counselor to the Great Council in 1611; dean of the cathedral of Malines in 1620; member of the Estates of Brabant in 1621; and counselor to the Council of State in 1626. He generously served the interests of his country and the Church.
Boonen, imbued with the spirit of Charles borromeo, was one of a succession of prelates who fought for the application of the decrees of the Council of Trent and the restoration of the Church. He was a rigorist who fought laxism in all its forms. Some of the propositions censured by the University of Louvain at his command were afterward condemned by Rome.
As a friend and admirer of his suffragan Cornelius jansen, he petitioned Rome untiringly, even calling upon the good offices of the king of Spain, in order to bring about a reversal of Rome's condemnation of Jansenism. He was misunderstood and severe censures were imposed upon him; however, these were soon lifted (1653). His historical reputation continues to be controversial.
Bibliography: p. claessens, Histoire des archévêques de Malines, 2 v. (Louvain 1881) v. 1. l. ceyssens, "La Publication officielle de la bulle 'In eminenti,"' Augustiniana 9 (1959) 161–182, 304–338, 412–430; 10 (1960) 77–114, 245–296, 365–423; "Les Dernières années de Boonen," ibid. 11 (1961) 87–120, 320–335, 564–582. v. sempels, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1912–) 9:1144–60.