|The Communities of Jerusalem Leave Belgium (photo of their establishment|
in Great St. Martin Church in Cologne)
Jozef De Kesel was appointed Archbishop of Brussels and Primate of Belgium at the end of 2015 by Pope Francis. His appointment ended a five-year-old plan begun by Pope Benedict XVI. in an attempt to correct the progressive course of the Belgian Church. With the appointment of De Kesel, the old squad of Cardinal Godfried Danneels returned. De Kesel had already been Danneel's chosen successor in 2010. In November 2016 De Kesel was elevated to the rank of Cardinal by Francis. A dignity denied to his predecessor, Léonard.
Priestly Society of the Holy Apostles
De Kesel's predecessor and Danneel's successor, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard had brought the Fraternité des Saints Apetres / Broederschap van de Saint Apostles of the French priest, Michel-Marie Zanotti, into the country. The Society took over the care of two parishes in the Brussels region and founded a seminary. Archbishop Léonard insisted on this parallel priestly training, hoping to train a new clergy. Three years after the foundation, 21 young men were already preparing for the priesthood. The new foundation was "too successful," as it was described behind the scenes. De Kesel, only a few months in office, blocked the priestly seminary and threw the priestly brotherhood "from solidarity with France's bishops" out of his archdiocese. At the same time, he made sure that they were not included in any other Belgian diocese. "France also needs priests", was the well-founded reasoning.
In reality, De Kesel strives to make a tabula rasa of the "restorative" phase of his predecessor. The Church understanding of the Priestly Society of the Holy Apostles was "miles" away from that Danneels, as it was said in Brussels. The traditional priesthood of the Society and the numerous priestly confreres, which were attracted to the Society were considered undesirable in progressive circles. De Kesel himself promoted the abolition of priestly celibacy shortly after his inauguration.
Brothers and Sisters of the Communities of Jerusalem
Now the brothers and sisters of the Communities of Jerusalem must also pack their bags. The Fraternités Monastiques de Jérusalem 2001, founded in France in 1975, were brought to Brussels by Cardinal Danneels. The monastic communities have two offices in Rome in Trinità dei Monti and in San Sebastiano al Palatino. Their charism is, among other things, to live in monastic isolation in the midst of large cities. Communities have been settled in the famous abbey of Mont Saint Michel in Normandy and also the abbey with the famous cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene of Vezelay. In the German-speaking world, there are branches in Greater St. Martin in Cologne and in Strasbourg.
The Belgian branch is located in Saint-Gilles, Flemish Sint Gillis, in the Brussels region, a highly multicultural area with social problems. In the parish there are adult catechumenates, numerous missionary and apostolic initiatives, bible circles and a community of Eucharistic worship.
The reason for the expulsion is in this case: reform of the pastoral units. Churches are abandoned and parishes are united. The Sint-Gilliskerk is to become the center of a larger pastoral unit, but the presence of the monastic communities, although they have revitalized the parish, is no longer desired.
Their Presence Not Desired by the Archdiocese