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Msgr. Woorts, Archbishop Eijk, Msgr. Bacque and Msgr. Hoogenboom

 

Yesterday, ten days before they are consecrated to bishop and become the two auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Utrecht, Msgr. Herman Woorts and Msgr. Ted Hoogenboom made their professio fidei, their oath of loyalty to the Apostolic See. 

Msgr. François Bacqué (there he is again) concelebrated the Mass and said, “The Netherlands, but France as well [Msgr. Bacqué is French] are mission countries these days. A bishop must bring salvation in communion with the entire world Church – you will become part of the teaching authority in communion with the pope, in fellowship with the episcopate and especially with the archbishop.” 

The consecration will take place on 13 February. There is no news yet about the identity of the two co-consecrators needed in addition to the archbishop. 

Photo credit: Press service Archdiocese Utrecht.

On the occasion of its twelve-and-a-half year jubilee, two days ago, a whole truckload of guests (if not more) attended the celebration at the Tiltenberg seminary. Msgr. François Bacqué, nuncio to the Netherlands, was main celebrant at the Mass and delivered the homily. In it, he speaks specifically to the seminarians about their future, the importance of Christ’s promise of friendship as well as His commandment to remain in His love. He also speaks about the fact that the Tiltenberg houses student from four dioceses and what that can mean for future priests.

Msgr. Jan Hendriks, the rector of the seminary als refers to that in his address, an excerpt of which is below Msgr. Bacqué’s homily.

The full texts in Dutch may be found here.

Msgr. François Bacqué, Apostolic Nuncio to the Netherlands

Your excellencies, lord mayor, honourable gentlemen, brothers and sisters in Christ,

With joy and gratitude we celebrate this anniversary, the copper jubilee, of this seminary in the year of the priest.

We wish to thank God for His blessing, for the vocations to the priesthood and the diaconate that have found their way to the seminary, and for the priests and deacons who are already working in the parishes.

We also wish to pray today for the future, for the students of the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam, including the seminarians of Redemptoris Mater -, of the archdiocese of Utrecht, the dioceses of Rotterdam and Groningen-Leeuwarden and the abbey in Egmond, who follow their education here.

Today we pray that the Holy Spirit may continue to touch your heart and give all of you the strength to heed God’s call, every day anew, and that your heart may be moved by God’s love, inviting you to give your life for Christ and His Church.

In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks to His apostles in the Cenacle about their vocation and election:  “I have loved you just as the Father has loved me,” the Lord says. “You are my friends…”. And: “You did not choose me, no, I chose you”. In this way Jesus speaks about the apostles’ calling. But those words are valid for each of you! Your vocation is an election and a sign of God’s love for you. When we keep these words of Jesus in our hearts, we can be nothing but grateful. Through God’s mercy do we, weak people, carry this vocation and election as a valuable treasure in our hearts.

It is certainly good for each of us to regularly consider the ways by which God has led us in His goodness. Every vocation is unique, we have all reached our calling via different ways. But every vocation story is, in the end, a history of God’s personal attention and love for us. He has chosen us to be His friends in a special way, and as a priest to be an ‘alter Christus’, ‘another Christ’.

“Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love. [...]  I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you…”. Jesus speaks these words on the final evening of His life. They are a spiritual testament. With this, the Lord wishes that His disciples will leave in joy, keep His commandments and remain in love.

May the joy that the Lord gives by your strength! Of course you see difficulties around you in an yourself. I may know priests who are having a difficult time in their parish, a lot of work, duties in many different places. And a man must fight the weaknesses of his own nature. Certainly, there will also be difficulties for you. There is no priesthood without the cross. But stay focussed on the great mercy that you are connected to Christ as His friend and that, as a priest, you will be ‘another Christ’. Stay in the love of the Father.

Keeping the commandments is of course also an important point. Jesus asks it of us and it is part of priestly life. The priest is an example to others. At the ordination, the candidate lies prostrate and he kneels before the bishop to whom he promises obedience. He vocalises his wish and desire to become small and a loyal servant of the Church of Christ. With all this the candidate indicates that he will not follow his own guidance, but that of God, and that he will recognise God’s will in the guidance of his bishop, of the Church. Every priest must be willing to let go of his own will to be able to follow Christ.

But the central calling of the Lord in the gospel that we have heard, must be the insistent and repeated commandment to maintain the love: “Remain in my love. [...] This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you”. That is especially valid for the priests among one another.

Seminary is a school for mutual love; because you live together every day, you learn to support each other, to stand and value each other and so a bond for life may be created. The fact that here there are students from multiple dioceses studying, praying and living together, can strengthen the ‘communio’ and the mutual bond among the priest in the Church in the Netherlands.

The priest is in a special way a man of ‘communio'; he is called to promote unity and community everywhere, among people and with the Lord, also the ‘communio’ with the bishop and the heartfelt bond with the pope and the universal Church.

God has given us everything. In a spirit of gratitude we have gathered here. A thankful person can do nothing but experience joy and love. I wish that spirit of joy and love, that the Lord presented to His disciples, to you all. Amen.

Msgr. Jan Hendriks, Rector of the Tiltenberg seminary

In a way we are entering a new phase. As you know our archbishop, Msgr Wim Eijk – whom I thank once again for the trust in us – has decided to entrust the education of the deacons and priests of the Archdiocese of Utrecht to the Tiltenberg. That has been  a major and difficult step. But the decision means that, in effect, the students of all northern dioceses (Utrecht, Groningen-Leeuwarden, Haarlem-Amsterdam and Rotterdam) and candidates of the abbey of Egmond are studying here. This has important positive sides and I trust it will turn out well. Means and money are used better, also considering the number of candidates. Seminarians of different dioceses get to know and hopefully value each other better and later as priests, they will be able to working together in the Church. From my own experience I know the positive effects of such a mutual background. This seems especially important to me in light of the future of the Church in our country, which will have to go to a period of restructuring, purification and renewal, but which will always be there, as she has been there for the past 2,000 years, in all the changes of times. Ultimately the Church will have to communicate to message of the gospel and Christ’s merciful salvation with a new drive and as one body.

For that reason we will search and find ways. People now are often searching, the struggle with themselves and with life’s great questions: where do I come from, where do I go, why is everything, why do I exist? Are there set values and is there Someone who has wanted me and loves me? When a person allows himself time for reflection, these question arrive inevitably. As St. Augustine already said: “Our heart is restless until it rests in You”, and – speaking to God – : “You have created us towards You”, “Creasti nos ad Te”. There is an innate desire for God, who is Love, in every person, and that is an opening and starting point for us. Let us pray that we may be able to develop our gifts and talents to answer this innate desire of people. Students experience this especially during their internships, which can therefore be so inspiring and motivational.

The bishops of England and Wales have been in Rome this past week for their ad limina visit, and on Monday they met with the pope who spoke to them about various issues. The full text of the address is here, but I would like to emphasise a few elements below. 

The bishops of England and Wales with the Holy Father. Photo courtesy of L'Osservatore Romano.

 

“I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth. Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society. In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but you are actually giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel’s right to be heard?” 

The pope refuses to allow the Church to fall back on herself, safe in her own little world. There is a duty to make knows the truth in the Church to those outside it. The part I bolded is an indication of how sharp the pope can be if he wants to get his point across..  

“In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.” 

Disagreement for the sake of disagreement has no place in  a debate, although too often it is heralded as that much-lauded and often misunderstood freedom of speech. Yes, we have a right to voice our opinion, but that does not free us from the obligation to think it through or deal with any consequences of what we say. 

“Indeed, since the priest plays an irreplaceable role in the life of the Church, spare no effort in encouraging priestly vocations and emphasizing to the faithful the true meaning and necessity of the priesthood. Encourage the lay faithful to express their appreciation of the priests who serve them, and to recognize the difficulties they sometimes face on account of their declining numbers and increasing pressures. The support and understanding of the faithful is particularly necessary when parishes have to be merged or Mass times adjusted. Help them to avoid any temptation to view the clergy as mere functionaries but rather to rejoice in the gift of priestly ministry, a gift that can never be taken for granted.” 

That is such an enormous risk in a society which has virtually no sense of sacrality left. We don’t recognise it when we see it, assuming we even see it at all. When a priest is seen as merely a functionary, we ultimately diminish the very essence of all of God’s gifts to us, because we don’t accept them for what they are. 

“I would ask you to be generous in implementing the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, so as to assist those groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.” 

As for that last point, Anglicanorum Coetibus is having an effect on the papal visit to the UK in September. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth II is miffed about the pope’s initiative to open the doors to Anglicans who want to return home to the Catholic Church. After all, the queen is the head of the Anglican church, so she is not amused that the Holy Father has made it easier for members of her flock to leave and swim the Tiber. 

She cancelled the planned dinner with the pope, which to me seems a bit childish. The Queen’s government officially invited the pope, which means essentially that the Kingdom did, and now the personification of that Kingdom seems to back pedal a bit. 

Well, whatever happens, the papal visit to the UK looks to be stormy. There is a lot of enthusiasm, but the opponents are, once more, very loud.

About this blog

I am a Dutch Catholic from the north of the Netherlands. In this blog I wish to provide accurate information on current affairs in the Church and the relation with society. It is important for Catholics to have knowledge about their own faith and Church, especially since these are frequently misrepresented in many places. My blog has two directions, although I use only English in my writings: on the one hand, I want to inform Dutch faithful - hence the presence of a page with Dutch translations of texts which I consider interesting or important -, and on the other hand, I want to inform the wider world of what is going on in the Church in the Netherlands.

It is sometimes tempting to be too negative about such topics. I don't want to do that: my approach is an inherently positive one, and loyal to the Magisterium of the Church. In many quarters this is an unfamiliar idea: criticism is often the standard approach to the Church, her bishops and priests and other representatives. I will be critical when that is warranted, but it is not my standard approach.

For a personal account about my reasons for becoming and remaining Catholic, go read my story: Why am I Catholic?

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Latest translations added:

IN PROGRESS

[Dutch] Internationale Theologencommissie - Sensus Fidei in het Leven van de Kerk.

30 June: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Boodschap voor het Katholieke Jongerenfestival.

19 June: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Interview in La Vanguardia.

18 May: [English] Pietro Cardinal Parolin - Homily at the consecration of Archbishop van Megen.

15 May: [English] Ane Hähnig - Interview with Michael Triegel.

3 May: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Boodschap voor de Wereldgebedsdag voor Roepingen 2014.

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Sancta Maria, hortus conclusus, ora pro nobis!

Sancte Ramon de Peñafort, ora pro nobis!

Pope Francis

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the Servants of God

Bishop Gerard de Korte

Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden

Willem Cardinal Eijk

Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto, Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht

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