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Cardinal Daneels in rainbow vestments

March 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Close papal collaborator Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who was caught on tape encouraging a sex abuse victim to remain silent and “acknowledge your own guilt,” has died at 85. The Pope has already issued praise for the deceased heterodox cardinal, calling him a “zealous pastor” who was “attentive to the challenges of the contemporary Church.”

“May God have mercy on his soul,” said John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief and co-founder of LifeSiteNews. “We pray Cardinal Danneels repented for his role in covering up sex abuse and advancing heterodoxy. We are praying for the repose of his soul,” he added.

Danneels, the former archbishop of Brussels, was the chairman of the Belgian bishops’ conference from 1979 to 2010.

He “served the Church with dedication, not only in his diocese, but also at the national level as president of the Conference of Bishops of Belgium, while being a member of various Roman dicasteries,” Pope Francis said in his telegram about the cardinal’s death.

Danneels appeared with Pope Francis on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica after his 2013 papal election. The Pope personally appointed Danneels to participate in both synods on the family, a role the pontiff acknowledged in his statement on Danneels’ death: “Cardinal Danneels also took an active role in various Synods of Bishops, including those of 2014 and 2015 on the family.”

Pope Francis honored Cardinal Godfried Danneels (2nd from left) by letting him stand alongside the pope on the balcony on the night of his election on March 13, 2013.

Danneels had admitted to being part of a group of left-wing prelates, the “Saint Gallen mafia,” who successfully conspired to elect Pope Francis.

The Cardinal was caught on tape in 2010 discouraging a sex-abuse victim from reporting that he had been abused for 13 years by Bishop Roger Vangheluwe. The victim was Bishop Vangheluwe’s nephew. Upon the release of the tape, during which Danneels also told the victim to “ask for forgiveness,” Vangheluwe admitted the abuse and resigned.

“He has been called to God at this time of purification and of walking toward the Resurrection of the Lord. I ask Christ, victor over evil and death, to welcome him in His peace and joy,” the papal telegram continued. “As a pledge of comfort, I offer a special apostolic blessing to you and to the relatives of the deceased Cardinal, the pastors, the faithful and all those who will take part in the funeral.”

The telegram was sent to Cardinal Jozef De Kesel, Danneels’ liberal successor.

In 2013, Danneels called laws allowing same-sex “marriage” a “positive development.” A 2015 book alleges Danneels congratulated the Belgian government when it legalized same-sex “marriage.” In spite of Catholic teaching, the cardinal endorsed the use of condoms as protection from HIV/AIDs. According to two Belgian politicians, Danneels also tried to convince the king of Belgium to sign a bill legalizing abortion in 1990.

A Reuters report on Danneels’ death didn’t mention his sex abuse cover-up scandal, but noted he was a “strong liberal voice within the Roman Catholic Church.” The article called the prelate “a jovial and gifted preacher.”