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‘Belgian Ratzinger’ named to head country’s Catholics

BRUSSELS – "The pope has named Andre-Mutien Leonard, until now bishop of Namur, archbishop of Malines-Brussels," the Vatican said in a statement.

He replaces Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who has been criticised for doing too little to promote the Church’s views on issues such as abortion. The 76-year-old was forced to resign because of age limits.

Leonard, 69, has been called the "Belgian Ratzinger," in reference to Joseph Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — due to his traditionalist approach.

His views on homosexuality and other issues have come under fire in the past.

Danneels however dismissed suggestions that the appointment amounted to a more conservative shift for the Belgian Church.

"We have the same love for the Church. Our DNA is different," he told reporters. "Just because the menu is being served by another person does not mean that the menu has changed."

Leonard said on Monday that his positions were "more nuanced" than the "conservative or homophobe" labels attributed to him.

"The cliches will tumble," he said.