Home/Rod Dreher/The Decadence Of Godfried Danneels

The Decadence Of Godfried Danneels

Cardinal Godfried Danneels (d. 2019), former primate of Belgium (VTM screengrab)

Take a look at this:

The shaded material on the right is a clip from Kerk en Leven (Church and Life), in August of 1984. Kerk en Leven is the weekly magazine of the Catholic Church in Flanders. This, via DeepL, is the translation of the first paragraph of the shaded copy:

A few years ago, an ecumenical working group on paedophilia was established in Flanders. This working group, made up of Catholics and Protestants, aims to make the Churches aware of the phenomenon of paedophilia, to pass on information and to remove prejudices. The working group also wants to inform itself about everything that appears in the field of paedophilia. All are welcome who want to get to know paedophilia and paedophiles better, provided this is done in openness, respect and reliability.

The article goes on to say that they are meeting in a chapel, and that pastors are leading it.

The text on the left-hand column recounts what happened when a concerned mother wrote to Cardinal Danneels, and shared with him more information that she apparently got from the program happening under his auspices. Here is what the Pedophile Working Group advised:

  • If your son or daughter feels the connection with the paedophile is fine, do not break that connection;
  • The reaction of the environment is often more harmful than the events themselves;
  • Many convinced Christians can learn something from paedophiles;
  • It is preferable that a relationship of trust be established between the paedophile in the parents.

Cardinal Danneels did nothing about this, according to the text. That was the same year his dear friend Roger Vangheluwe became Bishop of Bruges. Vangheluwe would decades later be exposed as a pedophile who molested two of his nephews — and Cardinal Danneels was secretly recorded by one of the victims attempting to gain the victim’s silence.

This is the great liberal cardinal that Pope Francis invited to participate in the Church’s Synod on the Family.

If you want to know more about how berserk the Catholic Church in Belgium went after the Second Vatican Council, take a look at this long report from the Catholic University in Leuven. It’s not polemical; it’s just a summary of the Church’s catechetical efforts over the decades since the council. It’s in Flemish, but if you browse with Chrome, it will translate the text for you. Reading this document is like encountering a Catholic traditionalist’s satirical take on liberal Catholic catechesis — but it’s all too real. Here are a couple of excerpts:

[In the 1970s:] In the first two degrees of secondary education, Roman Catholic religious instruction had in mind primarily the introduction of the most important building blocks of the Christian faith.  The teacher had to use the correlation teaching method that was already introduced in the first half of the seventies. In the first degree, the focus of religious instruction was on lessons about the Old and the New Testament. Secondly, a “Christian self-development” was central to the second degree.  For each intended topic, the lessons not only had an eye for the world of the class, but also for “the Bible, reflection and experience in the church community.” In this way, according to Bulckens, the teaching of religion wanted ‘to teach young people how to deal with the Christian vision of life problems and tasks’. Finally, as in the previous periods, religion classes for the third degree had the purpose of a synthesis of faith. In this way, religious instruction aimed to “help young adults to develop a personal vision” and to promote “engagement in a very mixed society in dialogue with other opinions and beliefs.”

In other words, although the Roman Catholic religious lessons still cast a glance at the Christian faith, other philosophies of life gradually came to the fore. With these philosophies of life and world religions, the lessons wished to enter into constant dialogue, whereby the transfer of pure Catholic doctrine disappeared more and more into the background. Furthermore, it was absolutely unacceptable for the teacher to act as an authoritarian figure and resolutely hide behind the statements of the Catholic Church. [337]This could, after all, arouse the students’ aversion to the Christian faith. These views were already accepted in the first half of the seventies and were partly a result of the growing pluralization in society and within the walls of secondary education. The religious teacher was therefore expected to enter into “open and honest dialogue” with the class group, so that the students could develop their own vision of the Christian faith and other views on life.

More:

As mentioned earlier, a pure proclamation of faith and the Christian formation of the class groups were no longer the central thesis of Roman Catholic religious education. Instead of such school-like catechesis, religious instruction wanted to contribute to the personal development of every student. As a result, the lessons were arranged in such a way that for some they could have a catechistic meaning and for others “an introduction to the Christian doctrine in its cultural-historical meaning”. The parents of the pupils also received a workbook for parents in The Religion in Catholic Secondary Education given the message that a pure proclamation of faith was no longer possible. The religious education now wanted to “make young people acquainted with the Christian religion, in dialogue with the major world religions and with all kinds of humanisms, and invite them to determine their personal attitude in freedom”.

In 1988, the catechesis program was replaced by a new one called Roeach:

Just like the Catechetic Units , a learner- centered approach formed the center of gravity within Roeach‘s [the name of the new catechetical program] religious lessons through an interactive lesson. An active teaching methodology was also put forward in the current curricula. In his article, Snijkers also praised the Roeach textbook series for his ‘creative and student-oriented elaboration, in which varied questions and assignments and well-chosen impulses gradually led to knowledge and insight’. Furthermore, the Roeach working group concerned intended to create “an open and dialogical learning process”, in which students were invited to “express their opinions and determine their personal position”. To arrive at such a form of teaching, the textbook series did not only respond to person-oriented didactics, but also to task and group-oriented teaching. The group-oriented component focused on class discussions about the social and religious context in question. In this way, Roeach encouraged the students to develop a personal vision of the Christian faith in complete freedom. Again, the prominent importance of an individual-centered approach appears here.

You may recall from yesterday’s post that one of these Roeach editions infuriated Flemish Catholic mother Alexandra Colen, a politician, with its pedophilic content and illustrations, under the guise of Catholic sex education. She raised hell with Cardinal Danneels and the Church bureaucracy, but got nowhere. She pulled her kids out of Catholic school, and homeschooled them.

If euthanasia weren’t legal in Belgium, the Belgian hierarchy and Catholic Church administration should be arrested en masse for murdering Catholicism in their country.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

leave a comment