The following telegram of condolences, signed by Pope Francis, was sent to Cardinal Jozef De Kesel, archbishop of Malines-Bruxelles upon the death today of his predecessor Cardinal Godfried Danneels at the age of 85:

“Having learned with emotion of the death of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, I send my deepest condolences to you and to his family, the Bishops of Belgium, the clergy, the consecrated persons and all the faithful affected by this mourning. This zealous pastor served the Church with dedication, not only in his diocese, but also at the national level as president of the Conference of Bishops of Belgium, while being a member of various Roman dicasteries. Attentive to the challenges of the contemporary Church, Cardinal Danneels also took an active role in various Synods of Bishops, including those of 2014 and 2015 on the family. He has been called to God at this time of purification and of walking toward the Resurrection of the Lord. I ask Christ, victor over evil and death, to welcome him in His peace and joy. As a pledge of comfort, I offer a special apostolic blessing to you and to the relatives of the deceased Cardinal, the pastors, the faithful and all those who will take part in the funeral.

The Vatican also provided a biography of the late cardinal:

The telegram did not appear on the site until after 7 pm. It did appear in the daily press office bulletin at


With the death of Cardinal Danneels, the College of Cardinals is now composed of 222 members, 122 of whom are cardinal electors, that is, under the age of 80 and eligible to enter into conclave to elect a new pope. One hundred cardinals are over the age of 80 and thus ineligible to vote in a conclave. (from

Of the electors, 18 were created by St John Paul, 47 by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and 57 by Pope Francis.

The 122 cardinal electors are thus distributed geographically:
Europe: 52
North America 16
Central America 5
South America 13
Africa 16
Asia 16
Oceania 4

Cardinals who will turn 80 and become non-electors through the rest of 2019:
Edwin O’BRIEN (April 8); Stanislaw DZIWISZ (April 27); John TONG HON (July 31); Sean Baptist BRADY (August 16); Laurent Pasinya MONSENGWO (October 7); Zenon GROCHOLEWSKI (October 11): Edoardo MENICHELLI (October 14) and Telesphore Placidus TOPPO (October 15).

Interestingly enough the picture was a bit different in the 2013 conclave. There were 115 electors for that conclave but two never made it to Rome for illness. The countries with the greatest number of cardinal electors were Italy (twenty-eight), the United States (eleven) and Germany (six).

There were 11 electors from Africa, 20 from North America, 13 from South America, 10 from Asia, 60 from Europe and 1 from Oceania.

The Vatican did not list Central America separately in 2013, as they have in 2019 statistics.


As I indicated above, the Vatican today provided a biography of the late cardinal Danneels from its own website:

Vatican obituaries rarely, if ever, comment on or explain or list the teaching, opinions, writings and works of the cardinals whose portraits they paint. That is usually left to official biographers and secular and religious media – and they are out in full force today, many repeating what they have been writing for years, apparently to deaf ears in Rome.

The National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin posted a blog about the cardinal soon after the release in 2015 of an official biography and just before the start of the October 2015 synod on the family to which the cardinal had been invited.

That story starts:

Cardinal Danneels Admits to Being Part of ‘Mafia’ Club Opposed to Benedict XVI

New authorised biography also reveals papal delegate at upcoming synod wrote letter to Belgium government supporting same-sex “marriage” legislation because it ended discrimination against LGBT groups

Further serious concerns are being raised about Cardinal Godfried Danneels, one of the papal delegates chosen to attend the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family, after the archbishop emeritus of Brussels confessed this week to being part of a radical “mafia” reformist group opposed to Benedict XVI.

It was also revealed this week that he once wrote a letter to the Belgium government favoring same-sex “marriage” legislation because it ended discrimination against LGBT groups.

The cardinal is already known for having once advised the king of Belgium to sign an abortion law in 1990, for telling a victim of clerical sex abuse to keep quiet, and for refusing to forbid pornographic, “educational” materials being used in Belgian Catholic schools.

He also once said same-sex “marriage” was a “positive development,” although he has sought to distinguish such a union from the Church’s understanding of marriage.

Click here to read the blog: