This Friday, the new archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels appointed by Pope Francis, Monsignor Jozef De Kesel, stressed how important it is to give some thought to how religion can fit into a society which has evolved from a relatively homogenous Christian community towards a secular society. “The Church remains an open community which is not separate from society.”
“It is my most profound belief that the Church is in crisis, but for me, the word ‘crisis’ should be taken as a positive concept, that is, that it is a moment of change; We must accept the current situation and use it to build a future,” highlighted Monsignor Jozef De Kesel. “Being a believer is no longer a spontaneous reflex. The Church was ever-present up to the 1950s and had a strong influence and position but the separation of Church and State is very important. The authorities are supposed to be neutral, but society itself is not neutral. Religion is present in society,” he added. That is why the new archbishop predicts that the challenge we are currently facing is establishing the place of religion in a pluralist and secular society.
According to Monsignor Kesel, the Church no longer has the same influence that it once had, but that does not mean that it should evolve into a closed mechanism. “Pope Francis also supports a Church which remains open and does not isolate itself from society. A Church which serves a conviction but that also has deep respect for those who do not share its ideology.”
Monsignor Jozef De Kesel will officially assume his position on December 12th at 3.00pm, when he is enthroned at the cathedral.” He is also Ordinary to the Anglican Chaplains serving in the Army. As for Monsignor Léonard, he will take on the role of apostolic administrator of the archbishopric until the arrival of his successor.