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December 31, 2011 in Catholic Church in the Netherlands, social media, World Church | Tags: abuse, adrianus cardinal simonis, anders breivik, archbishop andré dupuy, archbishop françois bacqué, archbishop jean-claude hollerich, archbishop rainer woelki, archbishop timothy dolan, archbishop wim eijk, archdiocese of berlin, archdiocese of luxembourg, archdiocese of mechlin-brussels, assisi 2011, beatification, belgium, bishop ad van luyn, bishop athanasius schneider, bishop cor schilder, bishop hans van den hende, bishop jan hendriks, bishop jan liesen, bishop jean kockerols, bishop jean-luc hudsyn, bishop léon lemmens, bishop rob mutsaerts, bishop roger vangheluwe, bishops, blessed titus brandsma, blog, bootcamp, consecration, deetman committee, diocese of breda, diocese of görlitz, diocese of groningen-leeuwarden, diocese of haarlem-amsterdam, diocese of rotterdam, disaster, easter, erik van goor, ewtn, extraordinary form, father herman spronck, father jan peijnenburg, father norbert van der sluis, finances, georg cardinal sterzinsky, germany, japan, joseph weterings, lent, mariënburg, mary, metropolis, music, new evangelisation, osama bin laden, papal visit, pope benedict xvi, pope john paul ii, prayer, raymond cardinal burke, salesian order, san salvator parish, social media, st. joseph cathedral, stille omgang, the passion, tom zwitser, twitter, universae ecclesiae, vatican blogmeet, vaticanum ii, world youth days | Leave a comment
As the year of Our Lord 2011 draws to a close, I happily join the ranks of the countless media channels creating overviews of the years past. And both for this blog, as well as the Catholic Church in the Netherlands and abroad, it has been a tumultuous year, both positive and negative. Taking this blog as the goggles we use to look back, blog, Church and wider world become unavoidably intertwined, but, in a way, that is how it should be.
In January, we saw the announcement of the beatification of Pope John Paul II, the resignation of Rotterdam’s Bishop Ad van Luyn being accepted, and the launch of Blessed Titus Brandsma’s Twitter adventure.
February was the month of interesting considerations by Bishop Schneider about Vatican II, shocking new developments in the abuse crisis, the announcement of a undeservedly short-lived experiment with the Extraordinary Form in the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden, the first signs that all is not well in Belgium, but also three new auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels, and the vacancy of Berlin.
March brought us disturbing news about Bishop Cor Schilder, an extensive message for Lent from the Dutch bishops, disaster in Japan, the announcement of a great ecumenical media project for Easter, and the annual Stille Omgang in Amsterdam.
April: the month of the consecration of Bishops Kockerols, Lemmens and Hudsyn, the first EF Mass in Groningen’s cathedral, further attempts at repressing religious freedom in the Netherlands, the bishops of Belgium uniting in shock to further improprieties from Roger Vangheluwe, the pope’s birthday, further personal attacks against Archbishop Eijk and the first preparations for Madrid.
In May we saw and read about the death of Bin Laden, the beatification of John Paul II, the first Vatican blogmeet, the appointment of Bishop van den Hende to Rotterdam, the publication of Universae Ecclesiae, a prayer answered, a papal visit to Venice, enraging comments from the Salesian superior in the Netherlands, and subsequent press releases from the Salesian Order.
June was the month of papal comments about new evangelisation and sacred music, the end of EF Masses in Groningen, the pope visiting Croatia, a new bishop in Görlitz, Bishop van Luyn’s farewell to Rotterdam, advice on financial compensation for abuse victims, Archbishop Eijk taking over as president of the Dutch bishops’ conference, and the death of Cardinal Sterzinsky.
In July, Bishop Rainer Woelki went to Berlin, there was more preparation for Madrid, Bishop van den Hende was installed as bishop of Rotterdam, the pope visited San Marino, Luxembourg received a new archbishop, Bootcamp 2011 took place, Bishop Liesen appeared on EWTN, Blessed Titus Brandsma ended his Twitter adventure, and the crimes of Anders Breivik hit home for Dutch Catholics.
August was a big month because of the World Youth Days in Madrid, but we also learned about Archbishop Dolan’s explanation of the Vatican, freedom of conscience being curtailed, the 100,000th visitor of this blog, and the Liempde affair exploding in the media.
In September, the official website of the Dutch Church got a make-over, Archbishop Eijk wrote a thankyou note to the participants of the WYD, The Dutch bishops’ conference shuffled their responsibilities, and Pope Benedict visited Germany and delivered an important address to the Bundestag.
October, then, saw a successful reunion of the WYD troupe, Bishop Mutsaerts’ intervention in the ultra-liberal San Salvator parish, the bishops declining a proposal to Protestantise the Church, the consecration of Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, the publication of Porta Fidei and the announcement of a Year of Faith, the appointment of a new Dutch ambassador to the Holy See, the appointment of Msgr. Hendriks as auxiliary bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, the first Night of Mary, and Assisi 2011.
In November, Cardinal Burke came to Amsterdam, the bishops accept and put into action a plan for financial compensation for victims of sexual abuse, the Peijnenburg affair made headlines, the pope went to Benin and heartwarmingly spoke to children, priests in Belgium tempted excommunication, Cardinal Simonis turned 80, Bishop Liesen became the new bishop of Breda, and a fifty-year-old letter showed that congregations new about abuse happening in their ranks.
This final month of December, then, saw the first fifty victims of sexual abuse being able to claim financial compensation, the presentation of plans for Metropolis 2012, Nuncio Bacqué’s retirement, the consecration of Bishop Jan Hendriks, pain and horror in Liège, the appointment of Archbishop André Dupuy as new Nuncio, and the publication of the Deetman report unleashing emotional reactions everywhere.
It’s been quite the year, but one with much to be thankful for. The truth sets us free seems especially apt in this final month, but can be applied to the entire year. May 2012 be equally open, honest, but also full of blessings for the Church, the people and everyone of us.
Thank you, readers, for the continued interest. That’s incentive to keep on doing what I do here.
A happy new year, and may God bless you all.
August 1, 2011 in Uncategorized | Tags: abuse, anders breivik, archbishop jean-claude hollerich, archbishop rainer woelki, archbishop rino fisichella, archdiocese of berlin, archdiocese of luxembourg, bishop cornelius schilder, bishop hans van den hende, bishop jan liesen, bishops, diocese of rotterdam, ewtn, medjugorje, salesians of don bosco, world youth days | Leave a comment
4,431 views last month. That’s a tiny increase over June, which is somewhat surprising; it’s been a slow blogging month after all. But let’s see what people have been reading.
1: Two years in the making, a new archbishop for Luxembourg 92
2: From Cologne with love – Woelki to Berlin 56
3: Something is very rotten among the Dutch Salesians 49
4: Dutch missionary bishop in the dock 48
5: Bishop Liesen on EWTN 43
6: Het probleem Medjugorje 38
7: On the invisible throne – Van den Hende installed as Rotterdam’s fifth bishop 35
8: The wide reach of Anders Breivik 33
9: Travelling with the bishops 32
10: Archbishop Fisichella calls Europe’s main archbishops to Rome 27
A variety of topics, mostly fairly recent – with one exception on number 6 – but none with a shockingly high number of views. There seems to have been an increase in views towards the end of the month, and if that continues into August, there is no doubt that we’ll cross the 100,000 threshold before September.
July 29, 2011 in Catholic Church in the Netherlands, social media | Tags: anders breivik, blog, catholica, charity, disaster, erik van goor, father dwight longenecker, media, norway, photos, pope benedict xvi, prayer, social media, tom zwitser, twitter, world communications day | 3 comments
Observant readers may have noticed that I have not yet written about the horrible murders that hit Norway a week ago today. There is a reason for that, and that is that I try to stick to a fairly narrow field of interest in this blog – Catholic news from the Netherlands and the countries around it. But I also don’t want to pretend that Catholic news is segregated from other news. So attention to the gruesome events that left 77 people dead does seem warranted. After all, I did so as well when other types of disasters – natural ones – hit Haiti, Japan and New Zealand. But there is one obstacle with two sides that kept me from writing: the fact that I know not nearly enough about the political leanings of the murderer, which do play a major part in the story, and that other writers have written about it much better than I can.
But one part of the entire story did present itself to me these past few days, and I think that that is well-suited to be discussed here. It’s the effect that the perpetrator of the attacks, Anders Behring Breivik, had on Catholic media and Catholic blogs over here and abroad.
The first example of Breivik’s twisted thoughts and acts affecting a fellow blogger came to me a few days ago. Father Dwight Longenecker discovered that Breivik read his blog, via a link from a Norwegian website that the killer contributed to. The comments that Breivik made about a post by Fr. Longenecker were
“nothing extreme or weird in itself.
Nevertheless, to think that my blog is out there as part of this new global publishing phenomenon and that anybody at all can read it is always amazing. To think that this madman read at least one post on my blog was disturbing at first. Naturally I wondered if I had written anything to prompt such hatred and violence.
I don’t think I have.” [Blog post Creepy and Disturbing]
Fr. Longenecker concludes that all we can do is “be silent and pray”. Which is a bit harder when the link between the murderer and you becomes even more personal, which happened to Catholica editor Tom Zwitser and contributor Erik van Goor. The politically conservative and Catholic orthodox writers both received the 1,600-page manifesto that Breivik had e-mailed to what he assumed were ‘kindred spirits’. Zwitser seemingly shrugged it off, although he does conclude that Breivik consciously tried to harm him and other conservative authors and politicians, since the list of recipients consisted of people Breivik did not know personally, but who are now linked to the criminal acts of 22 July. On 27 July, Zwitser wrote on Twitter:
My email address is public. Breivik, who has never read a word from me, thought that I would have any interest in his twisted ideas. Should I now start tweeting and blogging in Norwegian that I have more in common with a proper Muslim than with a dangerous liberal/neocon like him?
For Erik van Goor, the link between Breivik and him was even more of a surprise, and the consequences go farther. As he writes in an announcement, when the attacks happened, Van Goor was on vacation, and only upon coming home did he hear that his name was among those to whom the manifesto was sent. He writes:
“Even though many people, among them numerous friends, have assured me that I don carry any blame (my email address appeared and appears to be circulating freely on the Internet), this whole affair is to me a continuous stone which does not simply go away. The association between my name and the events in Norway may be reasoned away, but emotionally it makes me sick.”
With the ensuing flood of media attention for him, Van Goor decides to step back for now as contributor to Catholica and focus on his duties as husband and father until this storm abates.
And so, on an unprecedented large scale, Catholic bloggers and writers are hit by the backlash of one man’s gruesome actions. I don’t know why Breivik selected Fr. Longenecker, Tom Zwitser, Erik van Goor and all those others to be inspired by or to drag into his ‘project’ (for it does seem to be a well-planned socio-political endeavour), but it does make them into victims, especially since more than a few people now do exactly what Breivik wanted: linking them recipients of his manifesto to the horrible murders committed by him, as if to show that a certain school of thought automatically leads to murder.
I agree with Fr. Longenecker when he says that all we can do is be silent and pray. But while we, as Catholics, as bloggers, as people who made a small corner of the Internet their own, do that, we can take a lesson from all this. Our writings are out there for the world to read. And sometimes they are read – even commented on and written about – by people who do stupid and terrible things. But as long as we take the following words by Pope Benedict XVI to heart, I don’t think we need to worry about that too much.
It follows that there exists a Christian way of being present in the digital world: this takes the form of a communication which is honest and open, responsible and respectful of others. To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one’s own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically. Furthermore, it is also true in the digital world that a message cannot be proclaimed without a consistent witness on the part of the one who proclaims it. In these new circumstances and with these new forms of expression, Christian are once again called to offer a response to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is within them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). [Message for the 45th World Day of Communications].
But all the same, such events do affect us personally. We may be able to reason much of it away, but they are a small cross we nonetheless bear, at least temporarily.
As Norway mourns and buries her dead, and as Anders Breivik goes to meet his earthly judgement, may all those unwillingly linked to horror and death be given the time and chance to process all of this.
Photo credit:  Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay