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The parishes of San Salvator in Den Bosch and Beheading of Saint John the Baptist in Liempde are some 20 kilometers apart, but when it comes to parish councils, they could be neighbours. Both have been in the news lately, with stories of disregard of Catholic teaching and a frank misunderstanding of authority, both theirs and others’.

In both parishes, Bishop Rob Mutsaerts has been working to resolve things, but with little result as far as the parish councils are concerned. In San Salvator, the parish council is now on the lookout for an alternate location to continue their fake Masses and Protestant church services. The parish church belongs to the diocese, after all, and if the parish no longer considers itself part of that diocese, it is only sensible that they can no longer pretend that are properly Catholic by using Catholic buildings and furnishings.

In Liempde, three of the seven parish council members have quit after Father Norbert van der Sluis  (pictured)was not transferred to another parish. The council wanted that transfer after Fr. van der Sluis did not allow a funeral Mass for a man who died through euthanasia.

And this is the basic problem, both at San Salvator and in Liempde: parish councils overstepping their bounds. It’s a matter of understanding exactly what a parish council is for. It is not a democratic representation of the faithful, and neither does is decide on Catholic teachings and ‘policies’. A parish council exists to assist the parish priest in running a parish, with the pastoral and educational duties remaining those of the priest.

It is a matter of fact that the Catholic Church has a hierarchy; not a hierarchy for the sake of power, but for the sake of the faith. Our bishops and priests are our shepherds, they lead us towards God and teach us how to live our faith. Priests are called to these responsibilities and receive the Spirit to take them on through ordination. Their pastoral work does not happen in a vacuum, but within the context of parish and diocese, and ultimately the world Church. A parish council assists the priests in taking care of the worldly affairs of a faith community.  For example, they take care of the finances, of maintenance of the buildings used by the parish, of scheduling programs and events, and keeping a proper record of the things that are done. The parish priest remains ultimately responsible for all that, though, but he can delegate. What he can’t delegate are such things as the celebration of the sacraments, prayer and education (although laity may assist in these).

Parish council members can’t take these things solely on themselves, even if they are without a priest for a certain time. They certainly can’t pretend to be able to overrule decisions taken by the priest in these matters, nor can they refuse the appointment of a priest,  even if he’s the allegedly ‘very orthodox’ auxiliary bishop.

These things are not new. The same responsibilities of priest and parish council exist since the 1960s, so the council members of San Salvator and Beheading of St. John have no excuse to be unaware of them, let along of the faith of the Church, which has one or two things to say about the need for priests.

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?


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Netherlands License.

The above means that I have the right to be recognised as the author of both the original blog posts, as well as any translations I make. Everyone is free to share my content, but with credit in the form of my name or a link to my blog.

Blog and media

Over the years, my blog posts have been picked up by various other blogs, websites and media outlets.

A complete list would be prohibitively long, so I'll limit myself to mentioning The Anchoress, Anton de Wit, Bisdom Haarlem-Amsterdam, The Break/SQPN, Caritas in Veritate, Catholic Culture, The Catholic Herald, EWTN, Fr. Ray Blake's Blog, Fr. Z's Blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, Katholiek Gezin,, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, New Liturgical Movement, NOS, Protect the Pope, Reformatorisch Dagblad, The Remnant, RKS Ariëns, Rorate Caeli, The Spectator, Vatican Insider, Voorhof and Whispers in the Loggia.

All links to, quotations of and use as source material of my blog posts is greatly appreciated. It's what I blog for: to further awareness and knowledge in a positive critical spirit. Credits are equally liked, of course.

Blog posts have also been used as sources for various Wikipedia articles, among them those on Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carré, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Sergio Utleg and Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki.

Latest translations added:

1 December: [English] Archbishop Stephan Burger - Advent letter 2014

29 November: [English] Bishop Frans Wiertz - Homily for the opening of the Year of Consecrated Life

29 November: [English] Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke - Advent letter 2014

27 November: [English] Bishop Johan Bonny - Advent letter 2014

27 November: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Toespraak voor het Europees Parlement.

25 November: [English] Bishop Gerard de Korte - Advent letter 2014.

17 November: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Toespraak voor de conferentie over de complementariteit tussen man en vrouw.

10 November: [English] Pope Francis - Letter to the Church of the Frisians.

22 October: [English] Bishop Gerard de Korte - The doctrine of the Church must always be actualised.

9 October: [English] Godfried Cardinal Danneels - Intervention at the Synod.

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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