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After Buenos Aires and Madrid It’s Now the Turn of Another Great Capital: Pope Francis Appoints New Archbishop of Brussels

Luc Terlinden, current Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels, was chosen by Pope Francis as new Archbishop of the Belgian capital.

For the first time in almost a century, a priest who is not yet a Bishop, has been appointed Archbishop. Luc Terlinden, a Brussels resident, is not yet well-known by the general public. For the past two years, as Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels, he has been the right hand man of the current Archbishop, Jozef De Kesel. 

Terlinden is the tenth Archbishop since the creation of independent Belgium. With his appointment, the Holy See continues the principle of designating alternatively a Fleming and a French-speaking Walloon. 

Although 54, Terlinden seems young, but he is in consonance with the age of his Predecessor — Godfried Maria Jules Danneels was 46 –, and of Archbishops appointed in other parts of the world. 

Youth Ministry

Terlinden entered the Seminary after studying Economics and having work experience in education. He was ordained priest at 31. Then he specialized in Moral Theology in Rome. For his Doctoral Thesis he studied spiritual masters such as Charles Taylor  and John  Henry Newman. He acquired pastoral experience in parishes and in youth chaplaincy, from which stems his lasting commitment to the [Brussels Marolles] and young people  (in the Student Chaplaincy of Leuven  the New, and as co-founder of Pôle Jeunes XL of Ixelles). In 2017, he was appointed president of the French-speaking diocesan Seminary and member of the Bishops’ Council. In 2021, Terlinden became Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels. It’s a steep run for someone who has just had a very simple life as member of the Priestly Fraternity of Charles de Foucauld, the French priest who went to live among the Tuareg in Algeria in the early 20th century. 

Cardinal De Kesel’s Right Hand Man

As Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels, Terlinden became Cardinal Joseph De Kesel’s right hand man and a central figure of the Archdiocese. Since then he has been living in Malines with his Dachshund Oscar. People who know him describe him as brilliant, collegial and a worker, who is fraternal and who can also pause every now and then to enjoy life. 

In a “Church & Life” interview, (April 7, 2021), Terlinden said that the World Youth Day in Rome in 2000 was a profound experience for him, as was a military pilgrimage to Lourdes during his military service. He was educated in the faith and very soon entertained the possibility of becoming a priest, but the obligation of celibacy made him hesitate. 

Synod on Synodality

As Archbishop, Terlinden wants to wager on synodality. Cardinal De Kesel played an important role in the Continental Synod for his contribution on the treatment of the modern and secularized society and as a bridge figure. We can assume  that his Successor will also take up the torch. 

To Delve Deeper into the Spirit of Synodality Is Already Close to His Heart

In regard to celibacy, he said in the 2021 “Church & Life” interview: “We are also learning increasingly that the priesthood and celibacy are not necessarily the same thing. I believe in the great value of celibacy, but we often forget that the vocation to celibacy is an exception. The media focuses a lot on celibate priesthood, but our Church has in her heart various vocations. What is important now is to set out together.”

Luc Terlinden is now waiting for his Episcopal Ordination in September, to assume his functions as Archbishop on the 3rd of that month.