Wherein Card. Danneels makes excuses

Cardinal Godfried DanneelsRetired Belgian Godfried Cardinal Danneels – who protected a child abuser priest – was invited to the last Synod on the Family despite the fact that he was over 80. HERE That was a surprise, both because of the scandal Danneels was involved in and because of his age. Because of his age because the Cardinal Bishop of Hong Kong (who is standing up to homosexualists), younger than Danneels, was told that he was too old to participate.  Double standard?  You decide.

Danneels was also apparently involved in a group that – contrary to the rules that John Paul II established for conclaves and which Danneels and the others swore oaths to obey – conspired with a group to influence the election.  HERE

Now Danneels is in the spotlight again, for these comments. From Catholic World News:

‘Steer clear’ of triumphalism, [condescending] Belgian cardinal tells African bishops

In an interview with La Stampa’s Vatican Insider, Cardinal Godfried Danneels directed pointed words to bishops in Africa.

Advising “everyone to steer clear of all forms of triumphalism and claims to self-sufficiency,” the retired archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels said:

Some African bishops tell us: you are pagans. You wiped everything out. [And they are right and right to say so!] But I remember Belgium being full of vocations, there were huge seminaries and novitiates being built up until the 60s. Christian families did everything they could to give their children a sense of belonging in the Church. [That was then.  How are things in Belgium now?]

But we started seeing the faith dwindling in boys and girls aged 17-20. This wounded them it caused great suffering. Is it right to say it was their fault and that the parents were not good Christians? No, that’s not the case. [I blame YOU and your predecessor and men like you.  That’s who’s to blame.  You didn’t, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, hand on what was given to you.  The failed pastors of Belgium are to blame.] The act of becoming Christians and persevering in the faith remains a mystery and is not the result of some educational or sociological mechanism. [Oooo!  It’s a mystery!  It’s sooo haaard!  You didn’t preach the faith as Paul wrote to Timothy: “Praedica verbum insta oportune inportune argue obsecra increpa in omni patientia et doctrina!” What else does Paul say? “Erit enim tempus cum sanam doctrinam non sustinebunt sed ad sua desideria coacervabunt sibi magistros prurientes auribus et a veritate quidem auditum avertent ad fabulas autem convertentur. Tu vero vigila in omnibus labora opus fac evangelistae ministerium tuum imple.”] It seems to me that all the talk about “robust” Churches that should save the rest of Catholicism, is for the purpose of ecclesiastical politics. The abstractness of it is striking. [There’s nothing abstract about it, unless you haven’t a clue about your role in the disaster that is the Church in Europe.  That’s the sort of obtuse view that got Europe into this mess in the first place.  Everything is “abstract” instead of concrete.  It isn’t rocket science!]

Cardian Danneels added:

European Churches have been overrun by the effects of secularization that have also led to rising individualism. [And where were the pastors that were supposed to defend the flocks?] But this very individualism could reach Africa sooner or later: that phenomenon that sees people thinking of themselves as individuals rather than as members of a group, a community, or a mass. [Yes, with greater prosperity some of this will come to Africa.  In the meantime, they are acting like men instead of squeaky little gerbils.] It is possible that the crisis we have had will spread there too, with all that this entails. Africans may also experience a situation similar to ours. Then they might call us up to see how we dealt with it. To get some useful tips.  [USEFUL TIPS?  About what?  How to lie down and die as the enemy runs you over?  How to cave in to the world?]


It seems to me that the only advice Card. Danneels should give is “Don’t do what we did.”  No… wait… no advice at all.  Just… be retired, please.

Thank God for men and priests of God like Cardinal Sarah.


He’s the real deal.

Comment moderation is definitely ON for this.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, New Evangelization, The future and our choices, You must be joking! and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Let’s pray for holy bishop who lead their flock not to the master of lies and murder!
    Let’s pray for bishops who are confessors of faith!
    Let’s pray for bishops who are defenders of faith!
    Let’s pray for bishops like Cardinal Arinze, Sarah & Burke!

    Saint Thomas Morus, pray for us!
    Saint Irenaeus, pray for us!
    Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer OSB, died in the call of holiness, pray for us!

  2. benedetta says:

    So many language-loaded “isms” which we must fear! Fundamentalism. Triumphalism. And others too. Some other mistakes to avoid: Alinskyism. Totalitarianism. Phobia of orthodoxy, isms. Partisanism. These can strike when least aware or prepared. We should all imitate the humility and holiness of the African Catholics who are not wholly untouched by the dread Individualism, of course. The notion that “we are this” and “they are that” is folly. Why divide? Daneels dredges really unfortunate and wrong stereotypes about Africa. Someone in his position ought to know better, but one could have said the same when it came to his protection of abusers, putting the apparatus and structures of the Church over the welfare of souls.

  3. LarryW2LJ says:

    If there was EVER a situation whereby “By their fruits, you shall know them.” – this is it.

  4. iPadre says:

    Dies irae, dies illa

  5. ckdexterhaven says:

    How many parishes in the United States have a Belgian missionary priest…as opposed to how many African priests there are?

    The Belgian missionary priests are abstract because they don’t exist. Many thanks to the non abstract mission priests who travel across oceans and continents to serve us here.

  6. Benedict Joseph says:

    Insufficient energy and an inadequate vocabulary prevents me from touching on this with a ten foot pole. But, at least the gentleman is persistent and consistent. No surprises here. How terribly tragic — and there will be no accountability, only discreet applause from the cartel.

  7. MrsMacD says:

    Thank you to all priests and bishops, Fr. Z, Cardinal Sarah, who haven’t commited spiritual suicide.

  8. Auggie says:

    Logic is a beautiful thing, and I love it when Fr. Z is having a “red-letter day”.

  9. Auggie says:

    Logic is a beautiful thing, and I love it when Fr. Z is having a “red-letter day”.

  10. TWF says:

    As I’ve said before, 99.9% of what the Holy Father says I applaud: orthodox and even inspiring at times. 0.1% of his comments either deeply bother me or make me scratch my head. What bothers me more than his comments are some of his actions and definitely in the top ten is his apparent admiration for Cardinal Danneels and his ilk. How can his holiness see the devastation of the European Church and think “these guys must be doing something right”? +Danneels very presence at the synod was troubling.

  11. Dundonianski says:

    Dear Fr Z-well merited swathes of “red ink” attached to this most shameful prelate, but who invited him to the synod? who clearly respects and values him? who wanted his presence and support despite his (Daneels) absolute unsuitability-mong many other like-minded bishops? The spectacle of the Church’s accelerating spiral of descent under its present leadership is surely now transparent.

  12. FREB says:

    I read this article and was very upset about what he had to say about the Church in Africa. Yet, it was also a great reminder of how much we need to pray not only for him but for all of Europe!

  13. frjohnt says:

    Who in his right mind would ask Cardinal Danneels for advice, for “useful tips”?

    I think there are hints of triumphant racism in his remarks!

  14. Eugene says:

    What an absolutely poor excuse for a shepherd. And he along with Cupich received special invitations from PF to attend the synod and true shepherds like Card. Burke and Arch. Tong are left out, I am beyond disgusted and cannot even put inn writing how I truly feel about PF as the good Father will not post it.
    After being on this earth for just over 57 years I never thought I would feel this way about a Pope or a Shepherd, it’s so bad I haven’t been able to pray for PF for many months. Am I sinning for this? Can anyone offer me advice.

    [Do NOT stop praying for the Pope! Ask God to help him and defend him from spiritual attacks.]

  15. Ferde Rombola says:

    The nerve of this man!! Fr. Z, if I wrote here what I think of him you’d ban me from your website.

  16. jacobi says:

    I remember Belgium very well from the early 70s. It was Catholic. When we returned to the UK in the late 90s, it was not!

    That co-coincided with his being Chair of the Belgian Episcopal Conference, 1979- 2010. The record speaks for itself.

    Daneels and his kind hold responsibility for the collapse. They did nothing to counter it, went with it, and are now unrepentant.

    I still have contacts in Belgium. They tell me that the Church in Belgium is an insignificant dwindling mess.

  17. Brian C. 0311 says:

    Fr. Z, Your comments to his statement hit the nail on the head. They truly are the men who point out the splinter in another’s eye, while being oblivious to the log in theirs. I agree, please retire, Card. Danneels. Take some time to come to know God. Lord help us, Lord have mercy on us, and may all the angels and all the saints pray for us.

  18. DeGaulle says:

    Sun Tzu in his Art of War advised that one should know one’s enemy. In this spiritual war we are certainly receiving copious accounts of intelligence. I pray that Pope Francis’ words and deeds, whether intentional or otherwise, continue to flush out this nest of vipers.

  19. xsosdid says:

    Oh man, ” squeaky little gerbils” made my day!! Ha

  20. adeodatus49 says:

    Now somebody tell me again. What is the REAL 3rd Secret of Fatima?

  21. iamlucky13 says:

    “Advising ‘everyone to steer clear of all forms of triumphalism and claims to self-sufficiency,’ the retired archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels said….”

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was admonishing Cardinal Marx for his “we’re not a subsidiary of Rome” comment.

    “But this very individualism could reach Africa sooner or later”

    This is actually a sentence that should be heeded, even if he’s ignoring the context of the warning he’s given.

    The bishops and faithful of Africa need to be wary against giving in to or treading softly around the topics of secularism, egoism, and materialism as their quality of life improves. If they learn from Europe’s and the United States’ mistakes, they could well end up being the missionaries who help draw the rest of us back to God, saving us from instead hanging a collective millstone around our necks by leading the African Catholics into our own errors.

    I found several other thoughts that occurred to me as I read the quotes already written down in red ink above.

    @ ckdexterhaven

    “How many parishes in the United States have a Belgian missionary priest…as opposed to how many African priests there are?”

    This actually worries me somewhat. I also get the sense that many of the missionary priests I have met in the US had good formation in their native countries, but have gradually been molded by their parishioners into thinking lukewarm preaching during watered down liturgies is simply the way things are supposed to be done in a church in a 1st world nation.

  22. snoozie says:

    BRILLIANT post Father…thank you.

  23. robtbrown says:

    “squeaky little gerbils . . . ”

    Is this an oblique reference to homosexual “marriage”?

  24. Spade says:

    ” [USEFUL TIPS? About what? ”

    Maybe “Always search people for tape recorders before a meeting”?

  25. Bea says:

    “It seems to me that all the talk about “robust” Churches that should save the rest of Catholicism, is for the purpose of ecclesiastical politics. The abstractness of it is striking.”

    ecclesiastical politics??? Maybe “robust” Churches are robust because they kept the Faith. Nothing abstract about keeping and teaching the Faith. Our Faith is a concrete reality taught to us by Our Lord, Himself. Churches that are “robust” because they kept away from “abstract ideas” and stuck to The Truth. (see definition of abstract below):

    Poor, poor, Cardinals and Bishops stuck in their intellectual pride they cannot see the Truth.
    We must pray, pray, pray for them that they come to their senses before they lead us poor sheep astray.

    definition of “abstract”:
    Abstract | Define Abstract at Dictionary.com
    adjective 1. thought of apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances: an abstract idea.

  26. arcanum_divinae says:

    Exalting the humble and humbling the exalted is not unheard of for God. If the historic Christendom doesn’t want to be Christian, maybe a new Christendom will be found elsewhere.

    Mary Help of Christians, pray for us.

  27. Nancy D. says:


    Page 117, of the pope’s book, On Heaven and Earth, in regards to same-sex unions
    “If there is a union of a PRIVATE NATURE, THERE IS NEITHER A THIRD PARTY NOR IS SOCIETY AFFECTED. Now, if this union is given the category of marriage and they are given adoption rights, there could be children affected. Every person needs a male father and female mother that can help them shape their identity. – Jorge Mario Bergoglio
    Approval of same-sex sexual unions is approval of same-sex sexual acts. We have a Pope who is not in communion with The Catholic Church. (Catholic Canon 750) I am concerned for our Holy Father, Benedict. He would have spoken out of concern for the Synod if he could.

    Why not tell those men and woman, who have developed a same-sex sexual attraction the truth? It is because we Love you, and respect your Dignity as a beloved son or daughter, that we cannot condone the engaging in or affirmation of any act, including any sexual act that demeans your inherent Dignity as a beloved son or daughter.The desire to engage in a demeaning act of any nature, does not change the nature of the act. We Love you, and because we Love you, we desire that you will always be treated with, and will always treat others with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public. We will not tolerate the engaging in or condoning of sexual behavior that does not reflect the upmost respect for the human person.

  28. Grumpy Beggar says:

    xsosdid says:
    Oh man, ” squeaky little gerbils” made my day!! Ha

    Thankyou for the lol Father Z (and for an additional lol, thank-you Auggie)

    Here’s Father John Hardon’s definition from Modern Catholic Dictionary guys:

    TRIUMPHALISM. A term of reproach leveled at the Catholic Church for the claim that she has the fullness of divine revelation and the right to pass judgment on the personal and social obligations of humankind. (Etym. Latin triumphus, public rejoicing for a victory.)

    – Interesting that triumphalism is a term of reproach leveled at the “Catholic Church” – what does that imply about the one leveling the reproach ?

    The nicest thing that might arguably happen to Cardinal Danaeels (apart from retirement) is that someone would help him to break out of his bubble to show him the real world. He would have a very different perspective if he were to, say, really try meeting and getting to know some of the African Cardinals – instead of barking (or squeaking) at them over a great distance. (What the heck’s he waiting for – an(other) invitation ? [wink wink] )

    Surely it is more to one’s advantage to refrain from accusing others of “self-sufficiency” if they are going to continue making claims as insufficient as:

    “But this very individualism could reach Africa sooner or later: that phenomenon that sees people thinking of themselves as individuals rather than as members of a group, a community, or a mass.”

    It is unfortunate, in a sad way, that Cardinal Daneels doesn’t know or understand the African people. The African people never needed any theological exegetes or scriptural historians to interpret those passages of scripture which refer to Jesus’ “brothers and his sisters”. They live the mindset of that passage: Africans commonly refer to a cousin or even a distant kinsman as their “brother” or “sister” – and they mean it. They have a very firm sense of belonging. And African Catholics have an even firmer sense of belonging; both to each other, and to God.

    I have no way to measure just how much I have been blessed by African Catholics from a personal perspective:
    In my later youth one of the priests serving at our parish who my father and I got to know was from Rwanda. My present confessor and spiritual director over the last 5 years had been Ugandan – up until just recently when several months ago when the Archdiocese moved him to a neighboring parish in need of another priest who could speak both French and English. In my palliative and long-term care apostolate where I serve as a volunteer assistant to the Catholic chaplain , I have served (and still serve) under no less than 7 African priests who were replacing the Chaplain during vacations etc (from Rwanda, Benin, Madagascar to name several of their home countries).Over the last 10 years of this same apostolate the present Chaplain and he predecessor whom I serve(d) under are both African – from Benin and Congo Republic , respectively. Although I refer to them as “Father”, these guys are brothers to me. And the faith they carry to nourish the flock, is undiluted.

    We also had the honour of the Archbishop (now Emeritus) of Freetown and Bo spending several weeks on 2 occasions at our parish presiding at the altar – both after the first time he had been taken hostage by the rebels, and the second time – when although he and several Xavieran Fathers were able to escape, four of the Sisters of Charity who had been taken with them were executed by the rebels. In one of his homilies, the Archbishop told us , “You know, your faith is something very,very precious – you must never let anyone take that way from you. . . never,never,never.”

    Trying to juxtapose individualism to Africa as if she were simply some set of geographical coordinates and that individualism were a sort of drifting boat heading in her general direction sorely misses the point (merits a big “FAIL” in my limited opinion.) It looks more to me like Africa is now taking up the call of St. John Paul II to re-evangelize the rest of the world. It’s their turn to be the missionaries to us. It appears to me as if Africa just might be one of God’s secret weapons.

    NEWS FLASH for Cardinal Daneels : The Catholic faith of Africa is tried. . . and it is found to be True. Rather than warn Catholic Africa about some monster called individualism eventually coming to get it, I might be more inclined to warn individualism that Catholic Africa is coming into the world to enrich it.

  29. robtbrown says:

    Anyone who has had contact with the culture of large organizations will recognize the Cardinal Danneels type. He is not liberal, nor conservative, nor tradtionalist. Rather, he is a chameleon, a careerist with all the principles of a seismograph who will be whatever he needs to be in order necessary to rise in the organization. He will always hide his decisions in the policies of others, which gives him convenient (personal and public) excuses.

    Some years ago I read an interview with a now deceased bishop, a Cardinal for 25+ years at his death. He said at the time of Vat II they thought Sacrosanctum Concilium would be the easiest document to write. In fact, he said it turned out to be the hardest–and the worst of the Vat II documents. What struck me was that he spoke of it, smoking a cigar, as if they had chosen the wrong color to paint the kitchen. There seemed to be no understanding that he had been an active participant in the destruction of the liturgy, the source and summit of Catholic life.

    I recommend Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory

  30. kiwiinamerica says:

    ‘Steer clear’ of triumphalism

    Translation: don’t you be lecturing us about heresy and tradition and doctrine and all that stuff……..we’ll do things our own way!

  31. MrTipsNZ says:

    Pretty much this:

    Mt [29] Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; that build the sepulchres of the prophets, and adorn the monuments of the just, [30] And say: If we had been in the days of our Fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. [31] Wherefore you are witnesses against yourselves, that you are the sons of them that killed the prophets. [32] Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. [33] You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell? [34] Therefore behold I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will put to death and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city:

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  33. Mario Bird says:

    “Bah!’ cried John Westlock, with the utmost disgust and disdain the monosyllable is capable of expressing.

    Dickens, Charles. “Martin Chuzzlewit.” Ch. II.

  34. organistjason says:

    I second what Eugene previously stated. Pray for our Priests! Pray for our Bishops! Pray for the Cardinal Electors! Pray for Holy Mother Church! Pray for Pope Benedict! I am a child of two Popes. Born just before Saint John Paul the Greats Pontificate began. Solidified in the faith by Pope Benedict. The Venerable Fulton J. Sheen stated the best course of action at this crossroads, “Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious.” I humbly suggest one more “office” to that well stated Litany by Venerable Fulton Sheen.

  35. FXR2 says:

    Eugene says:
    13 November 2015 at 5:30 PM

    I find my self in the same position. I can quote Cardinal Burke: “Remain faithful”,and Fr. Z. said: Continue to pray for the Pope. I will add continue to pray for the one true faith. We can not despair. We must continue to be spiritual warriors. We must remain in a state of grace and pray! We should let Our Lady of Victory be our guide and trust in Our Lady!


  36. Aquinas Gal says:

    With people like Danneels in the news, it feels like we’re back in the 60s. But it won’t be for long. This is the last hurrah for the 60s liberals–it will be over soon enough, never to return. God will give us good shepherds again.

  37. MikeR says:

    Thank you for the red comments Father, those needed saying.
    Sydney Australia

  38. Hughie says:

    “Danneels was also apparently involved in a group that – contrary to the rules that John Paul II established for conclaves” Just a wee technical point. I think you will find that Pope St John Paul II did not create this rule against compacts and lobbying and that he merely adopted the existing rule into his apostolic constitution (just as he did with the, much abused by him, rule of a maximum of 120 cardinal electors [Pope Paul VI]). I seem to remember that Cardinal Merry delVal was accused of politicking in 1922, insisting that he would only support Achille Ratti if he reappointed Pietro Cardinal Gasparri as Cardinal Secretaaaaary of State.

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