It has not been a good few weeks for Brussels Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, the embattled leader of Belgium’s Roman Catholics.
The outspoken conservative prelate has been under fire from his brother bishops, Catholic publications and politicians for weeks for mishandling the Church’s sexual abuse crisis, calling AIDS a kind of punishment for sexual freedom and urging leniency for retired priests accused of sexually abusing minors in the past.
His spokesman quit last Tuesday, saying he could no longer work for a man he compared to someone who drives down a highway against the traffic and believes all the other drivers are wrong.
The series of misfortunes has now reached new heights — or lows — with the news that he got a pie in the face during an All Saints Day service last Monday in the cathedral in Brussels. A young person dressed in black ran up and “pied” him as he stood at a lectern while the choir sang a hymn. The embattled archbishop calmly cleaned off his glasses and licked his fingers clean. One newspaper reported that he later joked it was quite a tasty pie.
RTL television quoted diocesan spokeswoman Claire Jonard as saying: “The archbishop continued the service and did not want to file charges against the aggressor. We have no idea who it was or what his intentions were.”