Further serious concerns are being raised about Cardinal Godfried Danneels, one of the papal delegates chosen to attend the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family, after the archbishop emeritus of Brussels confessed this week to being part of a radical "mafia" reformist group opposed to Benedict XVI.
It was also revealed this week that he once wrote a letter to the Belgium government favoring same-sex "marriage" legislation because it ended discrimination against LGBT groups.
The cardinal is already known for having once advised the king of Belgium to sign an abortion law in 1990, for telling a victim of clerical sex abuse to keep quiet, and for refusing to forbid pornographic, “educational” materials being used in Belgian Catholic schools.
He also once said same-sex “marriage” was a “positive development,” although he has sought to distinguish such a union from the Church’s understanding of marriage.
According to a forthcoming authorized biography on the cardinal co-written by Jürgen Mettepenningen, a former spokesman for Cardinal Danneels' successor, Archbishop Andre Joseph Leonard, and Karim Schelkens, a Church historian and theologian, the cardinal expressed satisfaction over the disappearance of “discrimination” against LGBT couples after legislation was passed approving same-sex "marriage" in 2003.
The authors of the biography, to be published Sept. 29, reveal that the cardinal wrote a letter on May 28, 2003, to then-Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who at that time was putting together his second government.
In the letter, the cardinal wrote favorably about "one of the last achievements of Verhofstadt’s first governments, the approval of a legal statute for a stable relationship between partners of the same sex." Verhofstadt’s government introduced same sex-‘marriage’ into Belgium in 2003.
"He wanted to stop discrimination between married heterosexuals and homosexuals who had a long-term relationship," write the two authors of the biography. "But there should be no confusion between the use of the term ‘marriage’."
Asked about the letter, Verhofstadt said he did not recall it, but added: “I never had any problem with the cardinal. Our relationship was good.”
Under Verhofstadt’s leadership, from 1999 to 2007, the Belgian government not only introduced same sex “marriage”, but also laws on euthanasia, experiments on human embryos, and IVF.
Despite the poor record of the Belgian Church in resisting these laws, and the country being far smaller than many African countries that have one delegate representing them, Cardinal Danneels, 82, will be one of three Belgian prelates to attend the synod in October.
The Vatican listed him second in importance out of 45 delegates personally chosen by Pope Francis to participate in the upcoming meeting. He also took part in last year’s Extraordinary Synod as a papal delegate.
At the launch of the book in Brussels this week, the cardinal said he was part of a secret club of cardinals opposed to Pope Benedict XVI.
He called it a "mafia" club that bore the name of St. Gallen. The group wanted a drastic reform of the Church, to make it "much more modern", and for Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to head it. The group, which also comprised Cardinal Walter Kasper and the late Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, has been documented in Austen Ivereigh's biography of Pope Francis, The Great Reformer.
Italian Vaticanista Marco Tosatti has a bit more on this in La Stampa (in Italian).