Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
ROME, January 15, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The notoriously liberal archbishop of Brussels, Godfried Danneels, has announced his retirement and rumors are circulating widely that his replacement will be a man known in the press as an “ultra-conservative” who strongly defends pro-family values and holds to the concept of a “non-negotiable” moral law.
Danneels was well known as one of Europe’s leading figures in the Catholic Church’s post-1960s social and cultural revolution and was outspoken in his opposition to many Catholic teachings, highlighted most recently by his comments opposing the prohibition of the use of condoms in AIDS prevention. With Carlo Maria Martini of Milan and Basil Hume of Westminster, Danneels was known as one of the three European principals of the “liberal” bloc of the Catholic Church leadership.
Vatican insiders are reporting that the new archbishop of Malines-Brussels and Primate of Belgium will be the current bishop of Namur, Mutien André Léonard, known as one of the most “conservative” of the prelates of the Belgian Catholic Church. Léonard is notable for his opposition to the homosexualist movement and for having served in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Andrea Tornielli, one of Italy’s foremost journalistic experts on the Vatican, wrote for Il Giornale this week that Léonard is “considered the most traditional bishop of the Church of Belgium.” Tornielli said the announcement from the Vatican is expected “in the coming days.”
Tornielli notes that as early as 2007, the progressive French magazine “Golias” was alarmed at the prospect that Danneels’s successor would be Bishop Léonard, who had enthusiastically greeted Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio allowing the wider use of the traditional Latin Mass. Léonard also incurred the wrath of the “progressivists” by defending Pope Pius XII and by speaking about “non-negotiable” moral values and the Natural Law.
Veteran U.S. Vatican analyst John Allen, writing for National Catholic Reporter, said that the appointment of Léonard is one of the final touches of an overhaul of the European episcopacy under Pope Benedict that will change the face of the Church on the continent. The appointment of Léonard, Allen said, represents a “more dramatic change in tone” even than the appointment of Vincent Nichols as the new Archbishop of Westminster.
Allen notes that Léonard “has consistently taken sharply conservative positions in the European ‘culture wars’ on matters such as homosexuality and gay marriage.” He quotes Léonard acknowledging that in today’s Europe, he could face legal repercussions for opposing the homosexualist agenda: “I know very well that in a few years, I could be imprisoned for holding this position,” he said, “but this could mean a bit of a vacation for me.”
Indeed, Léonard has already fallen foul of the homosexualist activist machinery. In 2008 some homosexualist activist groups in Belgium tried to have him charged under the 2003 anti-discrimination act after the bishop commented that homosexuality is a psycho-social disorder.