Pope Proposes Example of King Baudouin to Belgium

VATICAN CITY, JULY 31, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged the Belgian people to follow the example of Belgian King Baudouin whose 10th anniversary was celebrated today.

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Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop of Malines-Brussels, read the Pope’s message during the commemorative Mass held in the Cathedral in Belgium’s capital. The Pope assured his prayers for the sovereign and his closeness to all the royal family, to the authorities, and to all the people of Belgium.

May “his life of service, rooted in a profound relation with God and founded on essential values” encourage the Belgian people “to follow in his footsteps to build an ever more just and fraternal society, in respect of the dignity of persons,” the papal letter states.

Born in 1930, he was just 21 when he was constitutionally sworn in as King Baudouin I, fifth king of the Belgians.

On December 15, 1960, he was joined in matrimony to Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragon.

Among the most outstanding episodes of his reign was his decision to oppose the 1990 draft law on the liberalization of abortion, approved by the Chamber and Senate. On March 30, the monarch wrote to the prime minister that his conscience impeded his sanctioning that law, as the constitutional system established, before it came into force.

Based on an article of the Constitution, the council of ministers considered that by reason of his decision, Baudouin was faced with the loss of constitutional power. In such a case, the Council of Ministers could assume the king’s constitutional prerogatives. It did so and, on April 3, the Council sanctioned and promulgated the law liberalizing abortion.

On April 5, the Chambers attested to the end of the king’s loss of power and from then on he exercised his constitutional prerogatives once more.

King Baudouin died on July 31, 1993 in Motril, in the Southern Spain, where the royal couple’s holiday residence was located.

In 1992, a year before his death, King Baudouin wrote this prayer in his journal: “Make your dream, of Fabiola’s and my holiness, be realized …”

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