Cardinal Jozef De Kesel – secularization as opportunity

Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, is one of men who will be made a cardinal this Saturday.

In an interview with ZENIT, the cardinal-designate expresses his belief that Christians must “accept wholeheartedly the culture in which we are to accomplish our mission: a pluralistic culture, a secularized society.”

“This culture is also an opportunity,” he says, because it enables one to “discover the freedom of the faith.”

ZENIT: Your Eminence, did you expect this nomination?

Cardinal-designate De Kesel: I didn’t expect it at all. I was at Monaco for the meeting of Presidents of the European Episcopal Conferences. It was the end, Sunday after Mass. I was already on the bus to go to the airport and all of a sudden bishops came to see me to congratulate me. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t even know that the Pope had the intention to publish the names. I couldn’t believe it, I never even thought of it …

ZENIT: How do you see this new mission?

Cardinal-designate De Kesel: The “creation” will take place on November 19. I will see what is expected of me at Rome. Perhaps I must become a Consultor in a Congregation, but for the moment I don’t know anything. This nomination is a sign of confidence on the part of the Holy See, not only for me but also for our Church in Belgium, which is living certain difficulties, confronted with a secularized culture.

ZENIT: What are your wishes as Archbishop for your diocese?

Cardinal-designate De Kesel: My wish here is to revitalize the Church somewhat. I think that we must accept wholeheartedly the culture in which we have to accomplish our mission: a pluralistic society, a secularized society. It is a profound conviction in me. This culture is also an opportunity, a grace for the Church. In fact, previously Christians were led by society itself.

This is no longer the case, but this new situation enables one to discover the freedom of the faith. As a pastor, I wish to encourage our Christian communities; I do not want to hold an anti-modern discourse. It’s our society; it’s in this society that we are called to accomplish our mission. We want a living Church open to the world, and a Church that is solidaristic, even if it’s smaller than previously.

The joys, the pains and the anxieties of the men of today are also the joys, the pains and the anxieties of the disciples of Christ. I wish for a Church that accepts the culture in which she lives and that is open to the world, while remaining faithful to the treasure she has received from the Lord in the Gospel. Continue reading


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