Jozef De Kesel

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His Eminence

Jozef De Kesel
Cardinal, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels
Primate of Belgium
Consistoire ordinaire public de 2016 - 1 (Jozef De Kesel).jpg
De Kesel at his elevation to the cardinalate at the consistory
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed6 November 2015
Installed12 December 2015
PredecessorAndré-Joseph Léonard
Other postsCardinal-Priest of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo
Ordination26 August 1972
by Leo-Karel Jozef De Kesel
Consecration26 May 2002
by Godfried Danneels
Created cardinal19 November 2016
by Pope Francis
Personal details
Born (1947-06-17) 17 June 1947 (age 72)
Ghent, Belgium
Previous post
Alma materCatholic University of Leuven
Pontifical Gregorian University
Motto"Vobiscum Christianus"
(With you, I am a Christian)
Coat of armsJozef De Kesel's coat of arms
Ordination history of
Jozef De Kesel
Priestly ordination
Date26 August 1972
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorGodfried Daneels
Co-consecratorsArthur Luysterman
Rémy Victor Vancotten
Date26 May 2002
Elevated byPope Francis
Date19 November 2016
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Jozef De Kesel as principal consecrator
Lode Aerts4 December 2016
Styles of
Jozef De Kesel
Coat of arms of Jozef De Kesel.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Jozef De Kesel (born 17 June 1947) is a Belgian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels. He served previously as Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Bruges since his installation on 10 July 2010[1] On 6 November 2015 Pope Francis named him to succeed André-Joseph Léonard as Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and Primate of Belgium.[2] He was installed at a Mass attended by the Belgian monarch on 12 December 2015. [3]

De Kesel was created a cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 19 November 2016. [4]

Early life[edit]

De Kesel was born in 1947 in Ghent. He entered the seminary in 1965, studied philosophy and theology at the seminary of Saint-Paul in Ghent and received his degree in Philosophy and Letters at the Catholic University of Leuven. From 1968 until 1972 he studied theology in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he gained first his license and then in 1977 his doctorate.

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Ghent on 26 August 1972 by his uncle Leo, who served as auxiliary bishop of Ghent. While in Ghent he held the following positions: Professor of Religion at the College of Bishops Eeklo (1974–1980), Professor of Religion, Philosophical Anthropology and Contemporary Thought at the School of Social Gent (1977–1980), professor of fundamental theology and of dogmatic theology at the seminary of Ghent (1980–1996) and at the same time, Professor of Theology Higher Institute of Religious Sciences in Ghent, where he was also Dean, professor of Christology at the Catholic University of Louvain (1989–1992), responsible for the formation of pastoral workers in Ghent (1983–2002), episcopal vicar for theological training and pastoral in the diocese of Ghent (1992–2002).


Pope John Paul II appointed him titular Bishop of Bulna and auxiliary of Mechelen-Brussel on 20 March 2002. He was consecrated on 26 May and appointed Vicar General for the vicariate of Brussels. In the bishops' conference he has been responsible for the inter-diocesan Commission for Pastoral Liturgy (Flemish and French) and a delegate to the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

He was appointed as bishop of Bruges after the early resignation of the previous bishop, Roger Vangheluwe[1] and installed on 10 July 2010.

On September 2010 De Kesel said: "I think the Church must ask itself the question of whether it is appropriate to keep the mandatory character of celibacy. We could say that there are celibate priests, but that people for whom celibacy is humanly impossible should also have the chance of becoming priests."


On 6 November 2015 Pope Francis named De Kesel to succeed André-Joseph Léonard as Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and Primate of Belgium.[2] Carl E. Olson of the Catholic World Report regards him as a theological liberal, being a supporter of Cardinal Walter Kasper's proposal of admitting to Holy Communion couples who have divorced and invalidly attempted marriage.[5]

In 2016 he consecrated Lode Aerts, after Pope Francis chose him to succeed De Kesel as bishop of Bruges.[6]

On 23 December 2017 Pope Francis appointed De Kesel a member of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life and thus a member of the Roman Curia.[7]


  1. ^ a b "RINUNCE E NOMINE". 25 June 2010. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Jozef De Kesel: 'Kerk moet een open gemeenschap worden'".
  3. ^ "Belgian Monarchs Attend Mass in Mechelen". Royal Hats.
  4. ^ "Pope announces 17 new Cardinals in consistory".
  5. ^ "New Belgium Archbishop: "Mercy" is "somewhat condescending...I like words like 'respect' and 'esteem'" – Catholic World Report – Global Church news and views".
  6. ^ "Lode Aerts gewijd als bisschop van Brugge".
  7. ^ Kardinaal De Kesel krijgt nieuwe functie in het Vaticaan

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Roger Vangheluwe
Bishop of Bruges
10 July 2010 to 6 November 2015
Succeeded by
Lode Aerts
Preceded by
André-Joseph Léonard
4th Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels
6 November 2015 – present
Primate of Belgium
6 November 2015 – present
Bishop of military ordinariate of Belgium
6 November 2015 – present
Preceded by
Edward Egan
Cardinal-Priest of Santi Giovanni e Paolo