Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Least favorite Archbishop of Pope Francis desperate to retire.

André-Joseph Léonard wants to retire as soon as possible. His letter of resignation to the Pope is already finished, the archbishop of Malines-Brussels declares to VTM News. Leonard is 75 in May next year. Then he should offer his resignation as archbishop. Usually, the Vatican asks bishops to remain in office until a successor is found. This took nearly two years in the case of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, his predecessor. Leonard himself does not agree. He writes in a letter which he will send to Pope Francis in May next year.  (see also Pope's brother slams Cardinal Danneels)

Leonard followed the popular Danneels as Archbishop on January 18, 2010. His aloof, ultraconservative stance made him not popular among the faithful, on the contrary. Very Catholic Belgium Léonard almost turned his back. He churned out insults to homosexuals, but stated repeatedly he was wrongly quoted.

The controversy began in 2007 when, as the then Bishop of Namur in an interview with the magazine Télémoustique he said gay people were "abnormal". "Homosexuals are inhibited in their normal psychological development. That is unusual," he said. When he got furious reactions, Léonard was  in denial – then still André-Mutien Léonard suddenly said. "I think I did not use the word "abnormal", he attempted to say. In vain, for the recording of the interview is unforgiving: that word was on the archbishop’s lips. (see similar comments by the late Belgian Cardinal Joos in extensive article)

In the same interview, he also threw doubt on the effectiveness of condoms as a contraceptive. He compared them to "Russian roulette". According to Leonard,condoms are "only useful for the reckless who need multiple partners," he declared in 2010, when he was only just appointed as archbishop.

In his new position, he did not change in tone. As a brand new Belgian church leader, he compared homosexuality with anorexia – like a disease. "I'm going to make a comparison, anorexia is a development that can not be reconciled with appetite, but I would never say that anorexics are abnormal," said Leonard on RTL-TVI.

As the storm around his person did not ceased, and complaints continued to rain, theologian Jürgen Mettepenningen was appointed as a spokesman. He was commissioned to frame Leonards statements. A few months later, he threw in the towel. It could hardly be otherwise because Leonard was throwing oil on the fire. The archbishop was quoted by the largest newspapers worldwide when he
said AIDS was "a form of immanent justice". 

That statement once again led to a new wave of protest, but Leonard took no word back. A few later days, a churchgoer threw later a pie in Leonard‘s face during a Mass for All Saints‘ Day in Brussels. A year later, he was on a visit to the University of Louvain-La-Neuve when he received four pies in the face.

Also remarried divorcees were not safe from Leonard. According to him, they had to first do an examination of conscience, before they went to hold a function in Catholic education. Divorced men and women also had better not go to communion, Leonard said three years ago. He advised that gay people should lead a celibate life.

Finally got the crematoria a slap. Leonard finds them "sanctuaries of the death industry." The Archbishop finds burials, "much more pious".

Late on Tuesday night allows Léonard, who was never appointed cardinal, to look deep into his soul in "The Year", the December portrait series of Telefacts. The programme starts at 21:40 pm

No comments: