At 69 years-old, Bishop André-Mutien Léonard has been nominated by Benedict XVI as the new Metropolitan Archbishop of Malines-Brussels and primate of the Catholic Church of Belgium. The Pope's selection of their "most traditional bishop" will bring new direction to the Belgian Catholic Church.
The nomination of Bishop Léonard was officially recognized by the Vatican on Monday, but the story had already been leaked to the Belgian press by the bishop himself.
In a French-language interview with Belgium's RTL television on Saturday, Bishop Léonard openly confirmed rumors that, as long as the Pope survived the weekend, he would be chosen as the successor to Cardinal Godfried Danneels as the next archbishop of Malines-Brussels and primate of Belgium.
According to Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli, Bishop Léonard is considered the "most traditional" diocesan leader in the country. In a Jan. 13 report predicting Leonard's appointment, Tornielli cited what he called the "progressive" French magazine "Golias" which had expressed its "worry" in a 2007 article that the bishop might succeed Cardinal Danneels.
Archbishop-elect Léonard's critics are concerned about his enthusiastic response to Pope Benedict's decree promoting the 1962 missal, coupled with his defense of Pius XII's alleged "silence" in the face of Jewish persecution during World War II and his stance on natural moral law in defense of "non-negotiable" values.
Bishop Léonard is also known to be very vocal in opposing abortion and euthanasia.
Archbishop-elect Léonard was ordained a priest in 1964 and has been the bishop of Namur, Belgium, the smallest diocese in the country, since his ordination by Cardinal Danneels in 1991.
Bishop Léonard is a long-time collaborator of Pope Benedict XVI and served with him on the International Theological Commission.