13 June 2010
Professor Rik Torfs has been elected to the Belgian Senate, obtaining 143,603 votes, which is the ninth position of the 40 members elected directly. As reported in the online publication Flanders Today, Professor Torfs, “a professor in church law, who became a celebrity in spite of that,” was a “white rabbit” in the election, one chosen for fame outside of politics. “Torfs is well known as a witty expert in church matters. He became a household name when he served as the one-man jury for three years in the popular quiz show De slimste mens ter wereld, acting like anything but a professor.” As a member of parliament, “Torfs will team up with CD&V party president Marianne Thyssen at the top of the CD&V senate list.” CD&V – Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams – is a center-right Flemish party committed to Christian Democracy.
While serving in the Senate, Professor Torfs will continue his teaching and research at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven), where he is a member of the Faculty of Canon Law, having served as Dean from 1994-2003. He has in addition been since 2000 visiting professor at both the University of Strasbourg (France) and the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa). The author of some 350 articles and numerous books dealing with canon law, law, and Church and State relationships, Professor Torfs is editor of the European Journal for Church and State Research, is a member of the Board of Directors of the European Consortium for State-Church Research, and is a newspaper columnist and host of his own television program. In 2009 he became a member of the Commission for Intercultural Dialogue (Assises de l’Interculturalité) of the Belgian government. He also serves as a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University, USA.