Its Church is dogged by empty pews, scandals and a hierarchy beguiled by the latest social trends. Soon it could become little more than a heritage agency for ancient churches
Yet the Belgian Church is still influential internationally. Cardinal Godfried Danneels [!], the retired primate of Belgium, is among the senior clerics appointed personally by Pope Francis to participate in the ongoing family synod. That is an interesting move, as Cardinal Danneels is much more radical on sexual issues than even the German bishops.
The 83-year-old is one of the Church’s great survivors, having been appointed an archbishop in 1979 and a cardinal in 1983. An ebullient character and formidable networker, his position on the Church’s extreme liberal fringe has not prevented him being a pillar of the College of Cardinals, to the point where commentators were naming him as a possible papal candidate in 2005. He has also been enjoying a very active retirement, so it would have been a surprise if he hadn’t been at the synod.
A lot of the Belgian Church’s influence can be attributed to Cardinal Danneels’s personal dynamism. He is also a highly controversial figure, and not just for his ideological stances [!]. He continues to be dogged by the mishandling of sexual abuse allegations against the former Bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe. Since Belgian society was convulsed for years by the Marc Dutroux paedophile scandal, the primate should have been keenly aware of just how toxic that issue is.
More recently, a biography depicted the cardinal as being involved in lobbying before the last papal conclave. Cardinal Danneels has denied this, but it does show that he retains his ability to grab headlines. [!][!][!]
Bron: Catholic Herald