In Memoriam of Cardinal Godfried Danneels

On March 14, 2019, the Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, a committed advocate of Christian-Jewish dialogue, died. Albert Guigui, Grand Rabbin de Bruxelles, dedicates an obituary to him below:

Thank you Cardinal Danneels

[Translation: French]

I will certainly write things that everyone knows, but that, perhaps out of modesty and discretion, one does not usually express. For it is true that daily life lends itself poorly to the expression of an admiration that one feels, but that one shows in ordinary time more by gestures and signs than by words. On the other hand, it is good today, when Cardinal Danneels just passed away, to affirm with a strong conviction, what was often implied.

Cardinal Godfried Danneels (1933-2019) was undoubtedly one of the key figures of the Belgian Catholic Church in recent decades. And this for several reasons: he was true to his convictions and to his belief that he always expressed forcefully. He knew how to rise above things and shed light on them with his judicious observations. He was farsighted and could grasp issues in a glance. He was close to people, simple people, people in need.  He always listened to those who sought his help.

Today on his passing, I would just like say thank you.

Thank you personally, since like Abraham, he always replied: " Hineni”- “Here I am ready to help”.  For decades, he always helped and supported me every time I turned to him.

Thank you in the name of my community, since even before he became Primate of Belgium, he always showed interest and empathy for the Jewish community.

One of our first meetings dates back to November 17, 1977. It was at the cathedral, on the day a plaque was affixed informing that the stained glass windows depicting the desecration of the hosts were a legend.   Through this strong symbolic gesture he wanted to counter the teaching of contempt.

The Jewish people will never forget his involvement and commitment for the preservation of Memory and for the fight he led jointly with  Cardinal Lustiger, for the removal of the Carmel from Auschwitz. Thanks to him "the work of oblivion will not succeed".
I vividly remember his strong stance against the words of the negationist Bishop Williamson. Personally I will never forget the face to face on RTL, during which  - with great humility - he asked for forgiveness for the defamatory words he had never uttered. This event is and will remain one of the strongest and most moving moments of my existence.

Since then our paths have often crossed, whether in Belgium or abroad. And every time, it is with kindness, respect and above all with great complicity that these meetings took place.

Cardinal Danneels build bridges between different religious communities, he was an ardent artisan of Jewish-Christian dialogue. A man of dialogue, a man of openness. 

For all this, I would like to say to him today, simply: Thank you.

In the Jewish tradition, the soul is often compared to a bottle of perfume.  The bottle falls and breaks. The perfume spreads on the ground and no longer exists. But despite this, the scent that exhales from this fragrance continues for a long time to fill the space.

It is the same for Cardinal Danneels. He is leaving us physically today. But he continues to live among those he loved and who loved him. He will continue to live through the beautiful deeds that he accomplished. He continues to live through all his family members.

For all the good deeds he accomplished on this earth, there is a beautiful saying that applies to him: "May his reward be complete on the part of the Lord. »

May the Master of the Universe grant, that his dear and unforgettable memory be beyond his death, an example, a support, an inspiration of piety, a source of meritorious deeds and divine blessings for all the members of the Catholic Church.

May his memory be blessed.

(left picture: Cardinal Danneels and Rabbin Guigui; right picture: Cardinal Danneels second from the right)