Luc Terlinden succeeds Jozef De Kesel as Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels

Luc Terlinden will succeed Jozef De Kesel as Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels in September. Pope Francis appointed Terlinden on Thursday, and the announcement was made during a press conference in the Interdiocesan Center in Brussels.

Terlinden, 54, has been Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels since September 2021. De Kesel will preside over the ceremony on 3 September at Saint Rumbold's Cathedral in Mechelen. An episcopal blessing and procession will culminate in Terlinden symbolically taking the archepiscopal seat while De Kesel becomes the archdiocese administrator.

De Kesel calls his successor a "deeply religious but open person" with a belief in "a profound form of humanity".

Terlinden, born in Etterbeek, says he expected the appointment when he received a call last Sunday. "I knew the conversation wouldn't be about the Red Devils," he said. After Mass that day, he decided to accept the position.

"Staying close to the smallest and most abandoned"

The new Archbishop chose Fratelli tutti as his motto because he attaches great importance to brotherhood. He was inspired by Pope Francis, who published an encyclical on the subject, and Saint Charles de Foucauld. "Through the total gift of their lives to God, they have made this universal brotherhood visible by staying close to the smallest and most abandoned," Terlinden says.

He plans to focus on the community and give women more responsibilities through "an open church with ambition and more attention for the people".

Appointment by the Pope

Terlinden will travel to Rome next week to receive the pallium from Pope Francis on 29 June. A symbol of special ecclesiastical authority, the pallium is a woollen shoulder strap, a liturgical badge of honour regarded as a symbol of papal power and the devotion of the ecclesiastical provinces to the Holy See. Only the pope and archbishops may wear the pallium, which is white and decorated with black crosses. Archbishops may only wear it within their ecclesiastical province.

De Kesel has been Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels since the end of 2015. He tendered his resignation to Pope Francis in June last year after he had reached the retirement age of 75, as prescribed by canon law.

This appointment is the first time in almost a century that a priest who is not yet a bishop has been appointed as archbishop.



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