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‘Belgian Ratzinger’ named nation’s primate; government blasts choice

January 19, 2010

Pope Benedict on January 18 named Bishop André-Mutien Léonard of Namur, a member of the International Theological Commission, as Archbishop of Malines-Brussels. Succeeding the influential Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Archbishop Léonard is known for his forthright defense of Catholic moral teaching and his support for Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict’s motu proprio on the extraordinary form of the Mass.

Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx condemned the choice. “Church and State are separate in Belgium, but when there are problems in our society, all the social partners sit down around a table, including representatives of secularism and of religion,” she said. “Cardinal Danneels was a man of openness, of tolerance and was able to fit in there. Archbishop Léonard has already regularly challenged decisions made by our parliament.”

“Concerning AIDS, he’s against the use of condoms even while people are dying from it every day,” she continued. “He is against abortion and euthanasia … The Pope’s choice could undermine the compromise that allows us to live together with respect for everyone.”

The nation of 7.8 million is 73% Catholic. It has 3,928 parishes, 6,489 priests, 11,771 sisters, and 201 seminarians. The ratio of seminarians to Catholics makes Belgium one of the world's most "vocation-poor" nations.


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  • Posted by: Universal - Jan. 20, 2010 7:17 PM ET USA

    Yes. Right on! 2010. Turn of history. Watch it come to a place near you.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 20, 2010 1:24 PM ET USA

    "The Pope’s choice could undermine the compromise that allows us to live together with respect for everyone." Behold the thinly veiled threat. The dark lords of secularism warn that "respect for everyone" demands a "compromise" in which no one dares to blaspheme the sacraments of the secularism: Holy Contraception, Holy Abortion, and Holy Euthanasia.

  • Posted by: humblesoldier4christ - Jan. 19, 2010 11:23 PM ET USA

    We need more Ratzingers, Arinzes, Pells and Chaputs. Right on! After all, we're the Catholic Church of Jesus, not Catholic Church of any governmnent!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2010 5:25 PM ET USA

    He must be doing something right of the leftist secularists in Belgium's government don't like him. Good choice.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2010 4:42 PM ET USA

    An archbishop who's against abortion and euthanasia...what is the world coming to? Morals, respect for human life and the dignity of human life perhaps: Thanks be to God for this new archbishop! If Church and State are so separate, who does Ms Onkelinx think she is to condemn the Pope's choice. Belgians and the wider world should be glad to have Archbishop Leonard to stand up for good moral values that people like Ms Onkelinx would like to see consigned to the history books.

  • Posted by: ltoscan2645 - Jan. 19, 2010 11:05 AM ET USA

    I take the critcism of the Madame Minister as a resounding commendation of the abilities and strengths of the new Archbishop, long may he reign, and long may the Chuch be done with prelates who compromise and just fit in.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Jan. 19, 2010 7:39 AM ET USA

    Thank God for bishops who "don't fit in." Don't worry, Deputy Prime Minister: The decline of the Catholic Church in Belgium is irreversible at this point. Brush up on your Shar'ia, the legal system of Belgium's next majority religion. Let's hope you fit in.