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.
With the news that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, in the United States, has filed for bankruptcy in order to continue to be able to compensate the victims of clerical sexual abuse and “continue the essential ministries of the Church”, ordinary Archbishop Jerome Listecki reminds us about the true reason for the crisis his diocese – and the Church as a whole – is in:
“For those of you who may feel anger and resentment that we have come to this moment, STOP. We are here because of one reason: Priests sexually abused minors.”
The temptation to look scornfully at the victims who are now coming forward and request some form of acknowledgement and compensation (financially or otherwise) is strong, and made even stronger by the many dubious claims among the honest ones. But in the end, the reason for the current situation is a simple one: priests abused minors. It happened. No matter how often it happened, even once is too much.
The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, generally referred to as the Congregation for Religious, the curial department responsible for all men and women in religious congregations, has gotten a new prefect. Succeeding Franc Cardinal Rodé, who retires at the age of 76, is Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz, until now the archbishop of Brasilia.
With his new appointment, he is one of only two South-American prefects of a congregation, despite the. relative importance of South America in the Catholic world. The other prefect is Italian-Argentinian Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, who heads up the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
Archbishop Bráz de Aviz is 63 and was archbishop of Brasília since 2004. Before that he was archbishop of Maringá (2002-2004), bishop of Ponta Grossa (1998-2002), auxiliary bishop of Vitória (1994-1998) and priest of Apucarana (1972-1994), all in Brazil.