While an opinion poll by a Belgian television network ‘reveals’ that three-quarters of the people of Flanders consider Msgr. André-Joseph Léonard ’unsuitable’ for the office of archbishop, the Vatican appoints him today as a member of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation. Not only does this show that the right way of doing things is never subject to popularity contests, but it also indicates what Pope Benedict XVI considers the areas where secularisation has hit hardest. Among others, the archbishops of Vienna, Birmingham and Freiburg im Breisgau were also appointed as members of the council that is headed by Archbishop Rino Fisichella.
In Belgium, Archbishop Léonard is still under heavy fire for his careful and deliberated comments about the abuse crisis and the best way to compensate the victims. Other statements about the liturgy and Communion have also fallen badly on the ears of the average Belgian Catholic, which says more about the latter than it does about the archbishop.
The Council for the New Evangelisation is tasked with renewing the evangelisation of those areas of the world, especially the west, which are hit hardest by secularisation. Some of the new members come from such areas, while others comes from parts of the world where rampant secularisation is just over the horizon.