Anna Arco's Diary

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Moules et Frites Express

The rumour mill has been rife this morning with the story that Mgr André-Mutien Léonard is poised to become the next archbishop of Mechelen/Malines-Brussels, Belgium’s most prominent diocese. VaticanistaAndrea Tornielli has posted on this in Italian here, as has Gregor Kollermorgen at the New Liturgical Movement (English) and our friend Rocco Palmo over at Whispers in the Loggia. I posted on potential candidates for the Belgian episcopate at the beginning of December. Tornielli reckons the announcement could come any day now.

Mgr Leonard has been bishop of Namur since and could be poised to take on the most important see in the Belgian Church, currently occupied by Cardinal Godfried Daneels, who was once a protege of the progressive Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens, a big mover in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

According to Tornielli Mgr Leonard is the considered to be the most traditional bishop in Belgium (which is probably not all that difficult). Tornielli cites a 2007 profile of Bishop Leonard in the progressive French magazine, Golias.

The author of the profile says:

“In a recent text, Andre Mutien Leonard gave what was truly a call to crusade: ‘Catholics of all the countries, unite’. In a polemical tone and with a strong, abrupt and crushing manner, he takes on several spiney subjects (returning for example to the question about the supposed uselessness of condoms against the spread of Aids, which has become his hobby horse). In the same way, with particularly perplexing aplomb, the bishop repeats all the way through his article that his adversaries are wrong (which means that they are in bad faith). It’s pretty strong stuff. As far as total lack of respect of the views of others goes, one can only go further with some difficulty.”

The article goes to lament:

“Mgr Leonard welcomed the publication of the new Motu Proprio [Summorum Pontificum] with very great enthusiasm. What is more, on June 30 last year, he ordained four deacons of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter , which has a traditionalist sensibility and is attached to the old rite, to the priesthood. He does not hide his spiritual closeness with the more reactionary currents. The above mentioned fraterinity has been celebrated in the diocese of Namur for several years and it is not the only one of this type.

“One must equally know that the same prelate retired his approval from publications “towards the future” flourishing but judged too progressive and too free of spirit, above all too independent from his person.”

Namur is one of the few diocese in Belgium that is producing vocations. The article describes Mgr Leonard as a moraliser and ends with a worried tone:

The possibility of a future promotion for Mgr Leonard to cardinal and to the see of Mechelen/Malines-Brussels in any case awakes the most the most vivid concerns. This bishop’s authoritarian governance and controversial positions, autocratic little known for his pastoral attitude, incites a growing number of Belgian Catholics to express their sadness and fears for the future.”

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