Archbp. Léonard on priestly vocations. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

From Catholic World News:

Former Belgian primate discusses synod, success in fostering vocations

In an interview with a French Catholic weekly magazine, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard reflected upon his five years as Primate of Belgium and Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels.

The prelate’s predecessor, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, led the see from 1979 until 2010. On December 12, Archbishop Josef De Kesel was installed as Archbishop Léonard’s successor.

Asked to comment on the steep rise in the number of seminarians– from four in 2010 to 55 in 2015[4 … t0 55 in FIVE YEARS] Archbishop Léonard told Famille chrétienne that he spoke with prospective seminarians personally rather than referring them to the vocation office: “a man who wants to give his life to Christ, a bishop must receive him!”  [What?!?  Was that an accident?  I ask you… speaking to seminarians personally?!?  What was he thinking?  Let’s cut through the B as in B, S as in S. Liberal bishops don’t want priests.  They want women.  Let’s just call it what it is.  If they can find 55 men who want to be priests in Brussels, they can find them everywhere.  Even more proof that what bishops such as the Extraordinary Ordinary, Morlino of Madison, do in regards to vocations … wait for it… WORKS.  There doesn’t have to be a vocation crisis.  The vocation crisis has been engineered for decades now.  By liberals.  It’s not rocket science.]

Asked how he swam against the tide when he faced opposition on account of his fidelity to the Church’s teaching, Archbishop Léonard quoted St. Paul (“do not be conformed to this world”) and said that he would have been concerned if he had not faced criticism, since “Jesus did not promise us success, but rather contradiction.”

Commenting on the recent Synod of Bishops, in which he did not take part, Archbishop Léonard said that he was “disappointed” that the final document had “ambiguity in the most delicate points.”

“I would find it extremely risky if Western countries could have a more flexible discipline,” he added. “What image would give it the Church” if the wealthiest Christians “may also have a more comfortable discipline? It would be a great scandal!”

Discussing his act of consecration of the faithful to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on December 8, he said that Belgium “received two official visits of Mary at Beauraing and Banneux. If Mary took the trouble to bother twice to visit this country, it is probably because it has great need.

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  1. CatholicMD says:

    Yet Archbishop Leonard’s mandatory resignation was accepted practically the day it was submitted and the vile Danneel’s protege was quickly installed as Leonard’s successor.

    Personnel is Policy.

  2. taffymycat says:

    is it normal to change primate/archbishops recgularly or was this some disciplinary action? pardon but i do not know or understand church politics

  3. Eugene says:

    This great man is part a list of true Shepherds I pray often for. That he was denied a red hat and particpation at the Synod, while Daneels and the apostate fellow Belgian Bishop Bonne were invited is not acceptable to this Catholic. But the feelings of real Catholics like this great bishop don’t matter to the Church of Nice, its only the feelings of apostates and unrepentant sinners that matter. Another reason this Pope has lost me.

  4. “There doesn’t have to be a vocation crisis. The vocation crisis has been engineered for decades now. By liberals.”

    I wonder whether anyone can point to a diocese that’s had faithful and orthodox (i.e. “conservative”) bishops over a period of years, but nevertheless has a vocations crisis. Or can one gauge a bishop’s position on the conservative-liberal scale merely by counting his vocations?

  5. Clinton says:

    Taffymycat, Archbishop Leonard submitted his resignation when he turned 75, which
    is standard practice for all bishops. However, his resignation was accepted unusually
    quickly– within about a month– which is lightning speed at the Vatican. (Sometimes
    it takes years for a Pope to accept a bishop’s resignation). It would seem that Rome was
    eager to see the back of this Archbishop.

  6. Matt Robare says:

    taffymycat, All bishops are required to submit their resignations to the pope when they turn 75. The pope can, however, refuse to accept it for as long as he wants. Leonard’s resignation was accepted very quickly, when one considers that many bishops are usually left in place for at least a few years — Cardinal George spent two years waiting for his resignation to be accepted, as did Bishop McDonnell of Springfield, Mass and Cardinal Egan. Egan’s predecessor as Archbishop of New York, John Cardinal O’Connor, submitted his resignation in 1995 but John Paul II hadn’t accepted it by the time he died in 2000.

  7. Gabriel Syme says:

    I have a great respect and admiration for Archbishop Leonard. He was very successful in office and very dignified in the face of repeated attacks on his person by lowlives such as FEMEN. It is a shame that his time in office was so brief especially when you consider that his predecessor, Daneels, continues to be involved at the highest levels of the Church today (the synod etc) despite his own disgraceful record and questionable personal conduct.

    Sadly, Leonard’s replacement, De Kesel, is the Francis sponsored Daneels Mk 2 (I am open to correction). I understand he is a supporter of the recent Kasperite heresy aired at the synod. In my opinion, Pope Francis shows extremely poor judgement and a blase lack of care for the Church, to dispose of the succeeding Leonard and return to the failed liberal stances which ran Brussels into the ground.

    Sadly it seems that Leonards good work will be undone in short order. It must be very disheartening time for the faithful priests and faithful of Brussels.

    As Father Z says, vocations are not rocket science. If the Catholic faith is taught and practiced faithfully, then God is pleased and rewards the Church with vocations. The opposite scenario is also true. Orthodox Bishops always do well for seminarians, especially if they are also Traditional.

    Even groups with irregular canonical statuses reap vocations, if they are faithfully Catholic. Campos (Brazil), The Sons of the Most Holy Reedemer (Scotland and New Zealand) and SSPX (global) all prove this beyond doubt. (The first two groups now have a regular canonical status, the SSPX status is still irregular – for now).

  8. LeeF says:

    @Henry Edwards who said:
    “I wonder whether anyone can point to a diocese that’s had faithful and orthodox (i.e. “conservative”) bishops over a period of years, but nevertheless has a vocations crisis. Or can one gauge a bishop’s position on the conservative-liberal scale merely by counting his vocations?”

    I think the more usual situation is that of orthodox bishops who takeover a liberal diocese and don’t let anything new bad happen, but who also don’t do much to clean up the mess, especially liturgically, and keep all the same staff on at the chancery. I.E., they are “pastoral”.

    Regarding using vocations as a metric for where a bishop sits on a liberal-conservative continuum, since there don’t seem to be many, if any, liberal bishops with a lot of non-inherited vocations, then anything over a bare minimum tells me that a bishop is highly likely to be 1) conservative doctrinally and liturgically, and 2) very aggressive in promoting those views. Wishy-washy (non-aggressive) conservatives seem to get the sames as liberals, very few vocations.

  9. Rich Leonardi says:

    “Wishy-washy (non-aggressive) conservatives seem to get the sames as liberals, very few vocations.”

    I think it’s fair to say that Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is “wishy-washy,” i.e., non-aggressive. He often makes the right call when the chips are down, but can be bureaucratic and reactive. No one would call him bold. In any event, we’ve seen a modest uptick in vocations since he arrived. (The AOC would claim it’s quite more than modest, but that’s really only the case if you count seminarians from other dioceses who study at our seminary.)

  10. kiwiinamerica says:

    The faithful Leonard, of course, was not deemed worthy of an invitation to the recent Synod on the Family.

    Danneels, on the other hand, despite his execrable record on sex abuse, vocations and just about every other measureable parameter, was an honored guest of +Francis.

    Go figure.

  11. Papabile says:

    @LeeF You mention how a Bishop might keep bad clergy at the chancery. However, sometimes, this is explicitly done, so as to keep them out of parishes where they might malform people. I would not want to put myself in the shoes of an orthodox/orthopraxitic Bishop who had to take over from a lunatic heterodox Bishop.

  12. Thorfinn says:

    While there are cases where a certain type of bishop with an ideological (frankly, anti-Christian) agenda may willfully fail to encourage priestly vocations, or drive away sound candidates, a simple analysis of number of seminarians or ordinations vs. “liberal” or “conservative” categorization can be misleading. Basic steps like Abp. Leonard talking to & encouraging candidates personally can & should be undertaken by bishops of any reasonable theological bent. Also the quality of vocations can be more important than the quantity — Cardinal Sarah recounted in “God or Nothing” that at one point he was forced to cut the number of seminarians ~ in half.

    And it’s not just up to the bishop — vocations are also a reflection of the prayer & family life of the faithful — sometimes we may neglect our part — mea culpa!

  13. rmichaelj says:

    We should never forget the homosexual activism that was present in many seminaries which forced out or expelled many good, holy canidates for the priesthood. I get the impression that a lot of that has been cleaned up now, but it is shocking to me that even to this day, so many refuse to bring it up.

    [Good point. The homosexual/liberal nexus was strong back then. They are still around, but they are losing their power.]

  14. everett says:

    When I was (relatively briefly) in the seminary, one of the keys to the growth in the number of seminarians was that the vocations director/rector of the seminary personally went to the homes of potential candidates to have dinner with their families. It’s amazing what having a confident and solid example of what it means to be a Priest will do for vocations.

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  16. frjim4321 says:

    It seems to me that the issue is not the number of vocations to the priesthood, but rather their quality.

  17. “It seems to me that the issue is not the number of vocations to the priesthood, but rather their quality.”

    Indeed. And observation suggests that, where vocations are many, there are many of good quality. And where there are few vocations, there are few of good quality. With a solid faithful bishop, over time there’s both quality and quantity. With a weak lukewarm bishop, there’s neither.

  18. Re: Quantity v. quality… I echo what Henry wrote, above.

    Also, keep in mind that the actual moment of “vocation” is when the ordinand is called by name to come forward to receive Holy Orders. By the time that point is reached, the candidate is poked and prodded and looked at and, hopefully, well-formed.

  19. Athelstan says:

    If they can find 55 men who want to be priests in Brussels, they can find them everywhere.

    Given the wasteland that is the Church in Belgium, that’s putting it mildly!

    But the reality is that there are progressives, prelates included, who would rather have no vocations than to have these vocations. (And when they’re in charge of vocations, that’s typically what ensues.) “Little monsters,” they call them, along with other names. I’ve had these conversations before. It’s depressing.

    Archbishop Léonard seems to have been a remarkably good bishop. Unfortunately, it looks like he will be a parenthesis in the collapse of the liberal Church in Brussels. Indeed, he’s really the exception for the entire Belgian hierarchy. In Archbishop Kesel, the Belgian Church now has the primate it wants, the one who really does represent it, and which it deserves.

  20. Ferde Rombola says:

    Gabriel Syme, the Pope’s actions are not poor judgment. he knows exactly what he’s doing.

  21. dans0622 says:

    Quantity vs. quality: A priest once told me about a time he was visiting with a vocation director (a religious sister, actually). He noted the low number of vocations and she said she would prefer quality over quantity. He replied “Well, Sister, to me it looks like you don’t have either one.”

  22. Raymond says:

    And let us not forget what happened to priestly vocations in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the ordinary there.
    Per John L Allen, see paragraph 11:

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