Cardinal Godfried Dannueels

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jun 7, 2008 | Categories: Bishops

danneels.jpgProgressive Catholics may think Belgian Cardinal Godfried Dannueels  is concerned about the Church moving away from the reforms and ideals of Vatican II. What really concerns him, he tells Robert Mickens in an interview in The Tablet, is the scarcity of intellectuals among bishops. “When I look at the synod assembly, so many good people are there with really pastoral hearts. They are good shepherds. But from time to time I think it would be good if five percent of them were also thinkers, that don’t lack hearts. We need among the bishops and cardinals some really intelligent people.”

He has publicly questioned the Vatican’s intransigence on certain issues, such as denying the sacraments to divorced and remarried Catholics or speaking against the use of condoms as a means of preventing AIDS.

There is also the infamous 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae. “It’s a problem,” Cardinal Dannueels says. “We have concentrated the whole problem on the pill.” He points out that the encyclical has deflected people’s attention from the other good things the Church has to say about marriage.

Dannueels  accuses not only the Church as an institution, but also himself, for not having done enough for families. When asked what more he could have done, the cardinal says withoutout hesitation that he could have “been more positive to support and encourage” strong families rather than mostly focusing on broken families.

When Cardinal Dannueels became Bishop of Antwerp in 1977 (he’s now Archbishop of Brussels-Mechelen), he wrote the first of more than 50 pastoral letters, which are issued at Christmas and Easter. He speaks proudly of these pamphlets, which he says are widely read “outside the Church.” He has covered a huge range of issues; one of the latest focused on stress. His first letter sums up the ideal he has tried to live. It was about the “ministry of encouragement.”

It was encouraging for me to read that Cardinal Dannueels was considered by some as a possible candidate to become pope of the  death of  John Paul II. Can you imagine–a man aware of modern life and culture, a thinker, a moderate on most issues–as our Pope.   But alas, his candidancy could not be seriously considered because  of the lack of priestly vocations from his diocese. Or so it was said.

What a missed opportunity, to have him as Pope. The Holy Spirit dropped the ball on that one.

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