Belgium, Scotland, France

Belgium: Msgr. Léonard succeeds Cardinal Danneels A historical changeover in Belgium: after having guided the archdiocese of Malines-Bruxelles for thirty years archbishop Cardinal Godfried Danneels passes the baton to Msgr. André-Mutien Léonard, previously serving as Bishop of Namur. The news, that was circulating in Belgium for the past few days, became official on January 18 with a note of the Vatican press office announcing that the Holy Father accepted the renunciation of the pastoral guidance of the archdiocese of Malines-Bruxelles submitted by Cardinal Godfried Danneels and appointed Metropolitan archbishop Msgr. André-Mutien Léonard to same office. The two prelates released the news to the press during a highly-attended press conference. Cardinal Danneels thanked Msgr. Léonard for having accepted such committing assignment and invited the faithful of the archdiocese to collaborate with him. With a certain sense of humour the Cardinal underlined the different personalities of the two archbishops. “If it’s a matter of DNA – he said – ours is different”. But then, he added, “the menu does not change if it’s served by someone else”, inferring that Church mission is one. Also Msgr. Léonard prefers not to speak of a “rupture” since “we share the basic tenets”. He then added: “Here I have a lot to learn. For me it’s the beginning of a stimulating task that gives me the opportunity for renewal on the personal plane and in the framework of my pastoral ministry. It is a major challenge that requires first of all addressing the areas of the new mission”. Cardinal Danneels was born in Belgium in 1933 and has served as bishop of Malines-Bruxelles since 1979. Msgr. André-Mutien Léonard was born May 6 1940 in Jambes, in the diocese of Namur (Belgium). He received his priestly ordination on July 19 1964 for the diocese of Namur. From 1970 to 1991 he was professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve. In 1978 he was appointed dean of the “Saint-Paul” University Seminary in Louvain-la-Neuve. He has been a member of the International Theological Commission. Scotland: looking forward to an “ad limina visit”During their ad limina visit to the Vatican City (next February 3-6), Scottish bishops will ask Benedict XVI to grant major emphasis to the theme of education during his visit in September. The Catholic magazine Tablet reported the news conveyed by Father Paul Conroy, Secretary General of the Scottish Bishops’ Conference. Education is a field where the Scottish Church operates with great success. Indeed, the marks of Catholic schools’ pupils are above the national average and the government pledged its support. This year also recurs the 600th anniversary of the foundation of St. Andrew’s school, the most ancient school in Scotland (1413). Still, according to the Tablet, another subject on the agenda of the Scottish bishops for the ad limita visit that will take place alongside the visit of the bishops of England and Wales, is the problem of the seminaries. The only Catholic seminary still existing in Scotland, the Scotus College in Glasgow, was shut down last year due to the low number of vocations and today the priests are registered in the Catholic College of Rome in Maynooth, Ireland. “The bishops will wish to show they adequately provided to the spiritual formation of the seminarians”, said Father Conroy, specifying that “the Pope’s visit to Scotland, in the framework of his apostolic visit to England, is not sure yet”. France: the blog of Msgr. Falco Léandri is a successOn January 19 the diocese of Gap and Embrun celebrated the 5th anniversary of the creation of the diocesan blog. Over 500.000 world visitors logged on the website during Christmas, a remarkable number for a region with a population of 140.000. In commenting on the initiative, the diocesan bishop, Msgr. Jean-Michel di Falco Léandri, who is also the president of the European Bishops’ Commission for the Media (CEEM), said the figures are “impressive” and underlined that the blog is translated in a fourth language, which attracted visitors from across the world (from Pakistan to Uganda). The remarkable number of surfers registered in the blog must prompt us to reflect on “what it is these people are seeking”. While if on the one side – said the bishop who is also present on facebook – the presence of clearly Christian websites on the internet can be viewed as “positive”, on the other it is “difficult” for those who don’t usually go to church to “discern” what is authentically Christian. To celebrate the anniversary, the French blog launched a public competition open to all its visitors on the most significant picture of 2009.

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