Two bishops, an experiment in what Pope Francis approves

From First Things:

Cardinal Godfried Danneels, primate of Belgium (1979-2010), aggravated the decline. He publicly questioned the Church’s teachings on the ordination of women, homosexuality, and contraception…

hen Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard succeeded Danneels as primate of Belgium in 2010, he made immediate changes. Not since the 1960s has the Belgian Church been so vocal. When Belgium recently legalized child euthanasia, the archbishop implored his faithful to pray and fast against the measure…Léonard revived traditional Catholic piety, too, quickly introducing the first Eucharistic procession on Corpus Christi in Liège since 1970. He celebrates the Latin Mass regularly, offering it as a remedy to the liturgical abuses of recent history…When Léonard gave a pro-life lecture at the University of Brussels last year, radical feminists doused him with water. Léonard started to pray and blessed his attackers.

Despite such attacks, Belgian Catholicism has started to show signs of growth for the first time in many decades. The numbers speak for themselves: in the 2012/2013 academic year, the number of Belgian seminarians has grown from sixty-seven to eighty-nine.

It is unfortunate that Pope Francis did not make Archbishop Léonard a cardinal at this year’s consistory. Given the state of disrepair into which Belgian Catholicism has fallen, Brussels mustn’t be an automatic cardinalate see, but the remarkable turnaround Léonard has made should have earned him the red hat…

Unfortunately, Francis has favored Cardinal Danneels, appointing him a synod father to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, a curious choice, given that, at eighty-one, Danneels not only has long exceeded the retirement age for bishops, but he can no longer participate in conclaves.

Imagine that!

7 Responses

  1. Danneels is pretty notorious for sexual abuse cover-up too. Like, egregious.

  2. “Like, egregious.”

    As in, literally caught on tape mocking a victim to his face and praising the abuser and his “suffering.”

  3. Thanks for being more detailed, Proph.

  4. By seminarians I assume he means young men who choose the path of priestly education.

    By a simple utilitarian calculation, bang vs. buck, those who are willing to undertake a major sacrifice (vows of chastity, poverty, obedience) will not want to make them for something that is yet another Tuesday, something that does not stand out from modern life as usual. They want to sacrifice their lives for something distinct, different, great, and majestic. Something poetic. Something romantic. Something impressive.

    If you look at borderline spiritual people who are NOT going to make major sacrifices, something involving zero sacrifice but still bringing some bang for zero buck, like the vaguely spiritual lifestyle of the New Age books, is appealing.

    I think liberal Christian parishes leaking people are stuck between these two. Sometimes the idea of a golden mean does not work. There is still uncomfortably lot of sacrifice, like, accepting the idea that hell exists and your atheist uncle may be there despite that he was a really lovely fellow, yet it does not buy a lot of bang. It is just a lifestyle, and few of their friends think their lifestyle is much more romantic than that of an ethical vegan.

    This is the opposite of a golden-mean scenario. This kind of thing tends to work on the extremes, either zero sacrifice and some warm fuzzy spiritual feelings, or serious sacrifice, but only for something distinct, grand and heroic. But little sacrifice for little bang – well, that sounds like another day in the office, doesn’t it?

  5. My point is, you can design new religions for a liberal age, and it can be popular, or you can keep old religions for conservatives and that can be popular too. But new wine in old skins is an epic fail, old religions dressed up as something liberal and new. This cannot possibly be a good idea. It’s like expecting a revolutionary new type of road vehicle from General Motors. New religions/spiritualities will constantly out-play liberal Christians priests at their own game and this is really something to be expected even with a little bit of sense… for a liberal audience, I would always bet on Deepak Chopra more than the most liberal bishop. It is obvious that compared to them conservative bishops wil be more popular – after all there still is a conservative audience and I think enough people are fed up with a modern world to look for alternatives.

  6. Agreed, even liberal Christianity is never going to win a contest of who can be the most hip and progressive.

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