This is Matt: We here at CMR have been huge fans of Erin Manning who blogs over at And Sometimes Tea. And so we wanted to have Erin write over here once a week for the next month as a guest blogger. I think CMR could use some female perspective – other than Patrick’s. So enjoy Erin’s post. Heeeeeeerrrre’s Erin!!!!!!!

I’d like to thank Matt and Patrick for allowing me this opportunity to blog here! Their great kindness is highly appreciated, and I hope their regular readers will be patient with my blogging efforts. On my blog I tend to write about an eclectic mix of topics, but politics and religion are frequent subjects–so let’s start with a post from the “religion” category:

There’s a new archbishop in Brussels, Belgium–and, according to this article’s title, some Belgian hackles are being raised by the pope’s choice. From Reuters’ FaithWorld blog:

The long-awaited announcement of the successor to the retiring Catholic archbishop of Brussels, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, has sparked an unusual outcry in Belgium. The new archbishop, André-Mutien Léonard, is sometimes called “the Belgian Ratzinger” for his conservative views. Danneels ranks as one of the last liberal prelates in a Church hierarchy that has turned increasingly traditional under Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict.
Léonard has beene a controversial figure in Belgium for his critical stands on homosexuality, same-sex marriage and condom use. He has been an outspoken opponent of abortion and euthanasia, both of which are legal in Belgium, and criticised the Catholic universities of Leuven and Louvain for their research into assisted reproduction and embryonic stem cells.

Calling Cardinal Daneels a “liberal prelate” is sort of like calling Nancy Pelosi a “liberal Democrat;” both labels are true, but they sure don’t tell the whole story, do they? In the case of Cardinal Daneels, the vocations numbers give a clearer picture: according to this article on Catholic Culture’s site, 73% of Belgium’s nearly 8 million people are Catholic–and there are only 201 seminarians in the whole country. Of course, that’s the whole country, including Archbishop Leonard’s former diocese–but a significant number of vocations are coming from that diocese, headed by Belgium’s most traditional bishop, which suggests that liberal Catholicism hasn’t exactly been pulling in its share of priestly vocations in Belgium (or anywhere else, for that matter).

But the truly funny thing is that the people of Brussels seem to be objecting, most, to the fact that Archbishop Leonard is–well, Catholic. Some of the main objections to him by various groups seems to be that he’s opposed to condom use, even in the presence of AIDS, and that he’s uncompromising in his opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and euthanasia. In other words, he’s just as Catholic as the pope–and this is an undesirable characteristic in a Catholic archbishop how, exactly?

Just how Catholic is the new archbishop? Consider that when he was Bishop of Namur, he was charged with the crime of homophobia under Belgium’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Fortunately, he was cleared:

NAMUR (LifeSiteNews) – A Belgian bishop has been cleared of charges laid against him by a homosexual activist group.

Monsignor André-Mutien Léonard, Bishop of Namur, was charged with homophobia under the pretext of the country’s 2003 Anti-Discrimination Act.

The accusations against Bishop Léonard pertained to his comments in an interview that appeared earlier this year in TéléMoustique, a weekly magazine in Belgium.

In the April 2008 interview, Bishop Léonard, when asked his stance on homosexuality, stated that his position was that of the famous early psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s – that homosexuality is the result of hindered sexual development. […]

Last week, after the reading of the interview in question, the Belgian courts ruled that, though the Bishop’s comments may have been hurtful to homosexuals, they were not severe enough to be considered slander or discrimination.

Despite the new archbishop’s scary level of firm and faithful Catholicism, Cardinal Daneels says people shouldn’t expect radical changes in the archdiocese:

At a joint news conference in Brussels on Monday, Danneels and Léonard played down the change. “There is a difference in temperament between myself and Archbishop Léonard. We have a different DNA, but we are both connected to the Roman-Catholic Church,” Danneels said, adding: “The menu doesn’t change because it is served by a different waiter.”
Maybe not–but it’s awfully nice when the waiter quits sticking his thumb in the soup, or stops serving the meal with rainbow-colored felt in place of linen napkins.

Those Catholics in Brussels who are faithful to the magisterium are reportedly delighted by Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Archbishop Leonard, as well they ought to be. As for those cafeteria Catholics in the archdiocese who don’t quite see why they need a waiter at all, the problem would seem to be that they’ve gotten far too used to being allowed to order items that were never on the menu in the first place.