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Mechelen-Brussels Archbishop Jozef De Kesel
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Brussels’ new archbishop: ‘Mercy’ is condescending, Church needs to be more ‘relevant’

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, November 10, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- As Pope Francis’ decreed Jubilee Year of Mercy approaches, one of his newest appointees suggests the term “mercy” is patronizing to those in need of it, and that the Church needs to more “relevant for society.”

Named last week by the pope to head the see of Mechelen-Brussels in Belgium, Archbishop-elect Jozef De Kesel expressed disappointment that the Vatican’s recently concluded Synod on the Family didn’t go far enough in allowing Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.   

“The Synod may not have brought the concrete results that were hoped for, such as allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion,” Archbishop De Kesel said. “But it is unbelievable how much it was a sign of a Church that has changed. The mentality is really not the same anymore.”

“I may be a careful person, but I do not think we should be marking time,” the archbishop continued. “Mercy is an important word for me, but in one way or another it is still somewhat condescending. I like to take words like respect and esteem for man as my starting point. And that may be a value that we, as Christians, share with prevailing culture.”

The Belgian prelate’s comments were made just prior to the announcement of his appointment by the pope in an interview with the Belgian Catholic news outlet Kerknet, translated to English for the Dutch site In Caelo et in Terra, and posted in part by Catholic World Report.

Archbishop-elect De Kesel, known as a progressive, has made statements indicating openness to homosexuality and other things that contravene Church teaching.

De Kesel, a protege of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, is widely believed to owe his nomination to the former Brussels archbishop.

Cardinal Danneels, a leading progressive, reportedly congratulated Belgium’s prime minister after the country’s 2003 legalization of homosexual “marriage,” and more recently admitted to being part of a clerical ‘Mafia’ of liberal cardinals and bishops said to have plotted Pope Francis’ election in order to push the Church in a liberal direction.

When De Kesel’s interviewer asked whether he would “take up the thread of Cardinal Danneels,” the new archbishop responded, “It is of course not my duty to imitate him, but I have certainly learned much from him.”

He spoke repeatedly of the Church as being in the midst of change, including a decrease in size. “A smaller Church must also be an open Church and relevant for society,” the archbishop stated.

Archbishop-elect De Kesel also said he dreamed of a Church “that accepts that she is getting smaller,” and also “which is not only occupied with religious questions, but also with social problems …”

“The Church is in a great process of change and that sometimes hurts,” he stated. 

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