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Belgian Cardinal Danneels stepping down after 30 years

January 08, 2010

Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Brussels will say goodbye to his flock this weekend as he prepares to step down after a remarkable 30 years as the leading figure of the Catholic Church in Belgium. Cardinal Danneels, who has announced his resignation at the age of 76, plans ceremonies at the cathedrals of both Brussels and Mechelen for his formal farewell.

Long a leader of liberal Catholics in Europe, Cardinal Danneels was occasionally mentioned as a potential successor to Pope John Paul II, who had raised him to the College of Cardinals in 1983. Canon Wilfried Brieven former personal secretary, said that the Belgian prelate worked “to save the heritage of the Second Vatican Council.”

Pope Benedict XVI has not yet named a successor to Cardinal Danneels. An announcement is expected from the Vatican soon.


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  • Posted by: wdcny - Jan. 09, 2010 3:24 PM ET USA

    Is the Canon's comment meant as a compliment? In this case, given the state of the Church in Belgium, it's hard to tell.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 09, 2010 2:29 PM ET USA

    'taken over by a loss of substance' ... What a wonderful phrase! How well it applies to so many Kennedys and archbishops in this weak land.

  • Posted by: adamah - Jan. 09, 2010 9:30 AM ET USA

    Belgium needs a saint as bishop.

  • Posted by: petervds5048 - Jan. 09, 2010 7:21 AM ET USA

    Georg Ratzinger, the brother of the Pope reportedly said that Danneels was one of several liberal cardinals who are "no longer in accord with a Catholic understanding." He added that Danneels had been "taken over by the loss of substance"—a loaded phrase indicating that he considered Danneels a virtual apostate. The Cardinal leaves the Church in Belgium in an even worse position that that of neighbouring Holland, and that is saying something!