Why Belgium needs Msgr. Léonard

Belgian Priest Fr. Pieter Delanoy shows why Bishop Léonard is the best choice for the archdiocese of Mechlin-Brussels, although he does not intend to do so.

In VRT News he explains why he started a Facebook group against the rumoured appointment and what he thinks the problem is. His comments are in Dutch, but here are some snippets translated into English.

Fr. Delanoy: “There were a lot of people, a lot of young people, who immediately reacted, “How can I now tell friends I believe, that I go to Church. How is it possible that when we know that things work in different ways, modern ways, that someone with such a profile apparently becomes archbishop.””

Presenter: “He really only says what the pope is saying, no more, no less.”

Fr. Delanoy: “Yes, but we think those should be implemented pastorally. That is totally different than saying, “These are the position of Rome, so we stop talking to a lot of people. So, people who are divorced, people who…”

Presenter: “Homosexuals.”

Fr. Delanoy:  “Homosexuals. Women. We stop talking to them, because they are shoved aside.”

I don’t know where Fr. Delanoy had his education, but it sounds like it was seriously lacking. Where does he get the idea that Catholics can’t talk to women, divorced people, homosexuals? Disapproving of a practice is not at all the same as disapproving of people. That’s basic knowledge.

It’s interesting to see that he does not disagree with what the pope says, but refuses to implement those statements. Equally interesting, in a sad way, is that Fr. Delanoy seems to think that dogmatic teachings are nothing more than opinions or standpoints. This is a priest of the Catholic Church who is ignorant of the position he has in the Church and even what that Church is.

And in all this, I haven’t even mentioned the blatant disrespect he shows to his superior and spiritual father. Or his lack of a Roman collar.

That is why Belgium needs Msgr. Léonard: for well-educated priests who know the faith and are not afraid to defend it.


6 thoughts on “Why Belgium needs Msgr. Léonard”

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I have lived in Brussels for 15 years and in that time have come close to despair about the state of the church here. Gross liturgical abuse is endemic. Priests never dress as priests unless the bishop is coming – and sometimes not even then. The churches are empty, as are the seminaries – yet the solution proposed is simply more of the same. Very few have the courage to say: Hold on. This isn’t working. Maybe we went wrong somewhere.

    Yesterday’s comments by Father Delanoy have been widely reported in the media here. They are sad and depressing. Why would anyone be attracted to a church where even those ordained to represent it are in open dissent? Mgr Leonard has his work cut out here and truly is a beacon of hope. Please pray for him and for the church in Belgium. Thank you!

  2. “I don’t know where Fr. Delanoy had his education, but it sounds like it was seriously lacking. Where does he get the idea that Catholics can’t talk to women, divorced people, homosexuals?”

    I could catch the full segment on Belgian tv yesterday because you posted this, thanks. In some ways the Belgian church resembles the Dutch one.

    In defense of Pieter Delanoy, and not in any way trying to criticize your or John’s view which I understand and even sympathize with to a certain extend, I’ll explain as I also understand where Pieter Delanoy gets “this idea” from. I am sure he doesn’t mean these people are forbidden to talk too as you suggest.

    It’s also clear to me he understands the distinction between practice and person as he explicitly made such a distinction between the ‘conservative wave’ which he criticizes and Msgr. Léonard himself.

    So perhaps he wasn’t clear because of the amount of time available or Belgians have a slightly different way of expressing themselves but I understood it as to mean this ‘conservative wave’ has difficulty with listening to the concerns and questions of divorced people because of their loyalty to the “position of Rome”, homosexual people or unmarried heterosexual people, some of them following their consciences and having a living relationship with God. Living in conflict with the teaching of the Church, and as such some sacraments will be problematic and with it a full communion with the Church. The Church can say “they” break the communion, but they are welcome anytime (for example when they confessed their grave sins). To me his statement seems problematic from a communicative and pastoral point of view; how can people feel welcomed if their innermost feelings are regarded as a break with the Church, let alone confess as a sin which their conscience holds as good? Note that Pieter didn’t advocate an radical reformulation of Church ethics but merely (and perhaps politically) said: ”Yes, but we think those should be implemented pastorally.”

    Talking and understanding implies a two way street, and this to me also means relating the teachings of the Church with the language of modernity, not in opposition to it’s history but as a continuity as some have said about Vaticanum II.

    You might not follow this line completely (or not at all) as you think Pieter seems to think “dogmatic teachings are nothing more than opinions or standpoints” (i think there is a landscape between these two which doesn’t seem to justify a black or white position), but perhaps you can sympathize with the view that people like Pieter Delanoy follow their conscience with reason and knowledge and should be respected as such and not be a-priori regarded as uneducated people who do not know their faith, as such in my opinion can risk causing more division and misunderstanding.

    1. I fully understand that he makes a distinction between theory and practice, but the problem is that he, a Catholic priests, openly denies Catholic teaching. The Church is very clear about homosexuality and the ordination of women, for example. You may disagree with that, that’s fine, but as a priest you can’t go running around and openly deny these teachings. Maybe you shouldn’t have become a priest if you can’t do that.

      There is certainly leeway in how to implement teachings, but that does not include the polar opposite.

      And what does ‘implementing pastorally’ mean anyway? Does it mean telling people that homosexuality and such are okay when it isn’t? That’s lying. Not very pastoral. A pastoral approach can not deny the underlying truth.

      I have no way to judge how this priest behaves in the parish, only what he says on TV. And that is in blatant disregard of some Church teachings, not to mention the new archbishop. As a priest he has a responsibility to live in unity with his brother priests and the bishops. Attacking a bishop even before the announcement of his appointment is official is, at the very least, very impolite.

  3. incaelo, thanks for clarifying, to me this was not clear from the text. while i can understand your sentiment, i can’t quite follow it completely.

    If you read the transcript (in the context of the conversation) Pieter Delanoy did not openly deny the teachings of the church as you state, he reflected the sentiment of a lot of people who from the text criticizie the way they feel the church communicates, nothing is said about denying or critizing the teachings of the church. He did express his worry about how the recent conservative wing expresses itself towards lay people, wether you agree or disagree with this assessment or not it is not an explicit criticism of official church rules – like that he is for the ordination of women or for homosexuality.

    I do understand starting a facebook initiative as a priest which opposes a potential candidate (which at the time was not officially his bishop yet, if that matters), not because of the person but what he in his opinion represents (a lack of communicative power because of the growing conservatism in the church in general) is at the very least pushing it or impolite. I can see where people think it goes to far. Still priests have their conscience too, but perhaps they should find less public or confrontational ways in dealing with these issues, for example it’s a good thing the rumored letter of some Utrecht priests to the bishop is not made public in the media.

    You’ve seen nothing yet – I remember the ’80s in the Limburg diocese where I grew up, that was a cold warzone, some good things left, the church changed, the old made way for the new, which was not bad.

    What irked me personally in that Belgian media blurp was the Sister who mentioned that no one she knew thought this was a positive move, leaving the audience with a wrong impression as I know a lot of people who I hold in high regard who applauded this move – and if the man is communicative and spiritual, regardless of his conservative view than that’s a good thing. But I can’t really judge as I am not to familiar with the current Belgian episcopate.

  4. To whom it may concern, l have read some comments by his grace bishop Andre’ -.Mutliens.Leonard. The church needs priests , shepherds like him.For many years now I have been prayers for. Jesus too give power to his Sacerdotal priesthood.Like he did at the. ascension& Pentacost .I sure many would agree! .

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