Today at noon, Cardinal Danneels officially announced that Msgr. André-Mutien Léonard will succeed him as archbishop of Mechlin-Brussels. Clearly that was widely expected or feared, depending on who you talk to.
Whatever the position you take on Msgr. Léonard, a program broadcast last night on Belgian TV, which followed him in his daily affairs, engendered much sympathy for the man. It was proof that he is a pastoral caring priest, as well as a philosophical and intelligent bishop.
During the announcement Cardinal danneels referred to the fact that he won’t be succeeded by a carbon copy. “We don’t have the same temperament, but we share the same faith. The menu is served by a different waiter, but the menu stays the same.”
In the five years he has in his new archdiocese, Msgr. Léonard will focus on the liturgy, vocations and the social program implemented by his predecessor. He’ll be visiting the three vicariates that make up the archdiocese and may also request a third auxiliary bishop. Two of vicariates are led by auxiliaries, but Flemish Brabant and Mechlin is not, since its auxiliary, Msgr. Jan De Bie, retired a year ago.
All in all terrific news for Belgium, although the new archbishop will undoubtedly face some determined opposition in the coming years.