Jozef De Kesel

His Eminence
Jozef De Kesel
Cardinal, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels
Primate of Belgium

De Kesel in 2007
Church Roman Catholic Church
Archdiocese Mechelen-Brussels
Appointed 6 November 2015
Installed 12 December 2015
Predecessor André-Joseph Léonard
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo
Ordination 26 August 1972
by Leo-Karel Jozef De Kesel
Consecration 26 May 2002
by Godfried Danneels
Created Cardinal 19 November 2016
by Pope Francis
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1947-06-17) 17 June 1947
Ghent, Belgium
Previous post
Alma mater Catholic University of Leuven
Pontifical Gregorian University
Motto "Vobiscum Christianus"
(With Christian)
Coat of arms
Styles of
Jozef De Kesel
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

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 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

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. 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 ordained a Bishop on 26 May and has been appointed as 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.[5] Unlike his predecessor, he is seen as a theological liberal, being a supporter of Cardinal Walter Kasper's proposal of communion to the divorced and remarried Catholic couples.[6]


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Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Roger Vangheluwe
Bishop of Bruges
10 July 2010 to 6 November 2015
Succeeded by
Preceded by
André-Joseph Léonard
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
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