Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel (Malines-Bruxelles), Military Ordinary for Belgium, was born on June 4, 1933 in Kanegem, diocese of Bruges, in Eastern Flanders.
After his secondary studies at the College of St. Joseph in Tielt, he earned a licentiate in theology at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the Catholic University of Louvain in 1954, and in 1961, a doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome. Meanwhile, on August 17, 1957, he was ordained a priest, and in 1959, he became spiritual director of the major seminary of Bruges. Ten years later he became professor of theology at the Flemish Catholic University of Louvain and on November 4, 1977 he was named Bishop of Antwerp by Paul VI. He was consecrated on December 18, 1977 and in the two years that he headed the diocese, he dedicated much of his time to the spiritual direction of the priests and to pastoral leadership, working assiduously toward increased collaboration between priests and laity.
In 1978 John Paul II designated him President Delegate, together with Cardinal Willebrands, of the Special Synod for The Netherlands. During the Synod of Bishops on the role of the Christian family in the Contemporary World (1980), in which he represented his bishops’ conference, he was elected by a wide majority as a member of the General Secretariat of the same Synod. He was relator of the second general extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops 20 years after Vatican Council II (1985).
On December 19, 1979, he was named Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel by John Paul II, succeeding Cardinal Suenens.
Cardinal Danneels is the Military Ordinary for Belgium and President of the Belgian Bishops' Conference.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the consistory of February 2, 1983, of the Title of St. Anastasia.
- Secretariat of State (second section)
- Congregations: for the Oriental Churches; for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; for the Evangelization of Peoples; for Catholic Education.