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Following recent and fairly sudden signs of increasing antisemitism in both the Netherlands and other western countries, the Dutch bishops have issued a statement condemning any hate against Jewish and other people.
“Both in and beyond our Dutch society there is – as a result of the war between Israel and Hamas – an increase in displays of hatred against Jews. The Catholic bishops of the Netherlands, categorically denouncing hatred against Jews, feel obliged to once again strongly condemn all forms of antisemitism.”
This clearly refers to that shining moment in World War II, when the Dutch bishops stood up against the Nazi treatment of the Jewish inhabitants of the Netherlands. This in turn led , among other things, to the death of Blessed Titus Brandsma (whose feast day we marked last Sunday) in Dachau concentration camp. The bishops continue:
“It cannot be that people who (for many centuries) have been an inalienable part of our society now feel unsafe and unwanted. The incomprehensible and appalling tragedy of the Holocaust in the Second World War has made it more than clear what hate against Jews can lead to.
For us Christians the fact also matters that the Jews are our older brothers and sisters in the faith in the one God, Father and Creator of all men. Our Church’s bond with the Jews and Judaism is unbreakable and can’t be given up. Our Lord Jesus Christ was a Jew and we Christians come forth from the Jewish people. Pope Francis recently said, not without reason, “You can’t be a true Christian without acknowledging your Jewish roots” (interview with Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia).
We acknowledge the rights of both Jewish and Palestinians to live in their own state, safely and in peace. The current war between Hamas and Israel and the Israel-Palestine conflict are very complex matters. We consider it necessary for a lasting peace that those Jews and Palestinians who fight each other or see each other as enemies, end combat and start working together to build up countries which can live in peace with one another, as a blessing for coming generations and the entire world. We pray for peace for the Holy Land, the Middle East and our entire world. We also pray that every person will know he is safe and wanted in both our country and all other countries. After all, we are all – Jews, Christians, Muslims and all people – God’s creatures, called to life by Him out of love, to live together as His children.
On behalf of the Catholic bishops of the Netherlands:
+ Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk,
President of the Dutch Bishops’ Conference
+ Hermanus W. Woorts,
Chair of the Bishops’ Conference department for Church and Judaism”
Although this is an issue which, in part, specifically concerns Dutch society, equal condemnation should be given to the even stronger displays of hatred against people for their religion in all parts of the world, not least the Christians in IS-controlled parts of Iraq and Syria, the warring parties in Israel and the Gaza Strip, Muslims and Christians and the Central African republic… I could go on. Where politicians drop the ball, the bishops and all members of Church and society should be ready to pick it up.
Happy birthday to Bishop Herman Willebrordus Woorts, who today marks his 50th birthday.
Bishop Woorts was born in Abcoude, Archdiocese of Utrecht, and became a priest and later auxiliary bishop of Utrecht.
After the bishops last reshuffled their responsibilities within the conference, last September, following four new addition to their roster in the previous two years, one member of the conference retired and a new one joined. So this week, it was time to do some additional reshuffling to give Bishop Jan Hendriks, auxiliary of Haarlem-Amsterdam, some specified responsibilities and re-evaluate some of the others.
Bishop Hendriks (pictured) took over the Education portfolio from Bishop Everard de Jong. The latter received a newly created portfolio, of Pastoral Care in the fields of Health Care and Justice. Bishop hendriks also takes over the portfolios of New Movements and Religious and Secular Institues from his immediate predecessor, Bishop Jan van Burgsteden
Two other bishops also received new portfolios: Bishop Hans van den Hende received that of Ecumenism, previously held by retired Bishop van Burgsteden, who, despite his retirement, received the Interreligious Dialogue portfolio from Bishop van den Hende.
The entire list of bishops and their portfolios now looks like this:
- Bishop Everard de Jong, auxiliary of Roermond: Categorial Pastoral Care in Health Care and Justice
- Bishop Gerard de Korte, ordinary of Groningen-Leeuwarden: Church and the Elderly, Church and Society & Women and Church
- Archbishop Wim Cardinal Eijk, ordinary of Utrecht: Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, Medical Ethics & Vocation and Formation
- Bishop Jan Hendriks, auxiliary of Haarlem-Amsterdam: New Movements, Education & Religious and Secular Institutes
- Bishop Theodorus Hoogenboom, auxiliary of Utrecht: Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community
- Bishop Antoon Hurkmans, ordinary of ‘s Hertogenbosch: Marriage and family
- Bishop Jan Liesen, ordinary of Breda: Liturgy
- Bishop Rob Mutsaerts, auxiliary of ‘s Hertogenbosch: Catechesis & Youth
- Bishop Jos Punt, ordinary of Haarlem-Amsterdam: Mission and Development & Categorial Pastoral Care
- Bishop Jan van Burgsteden, emeritus auxiliary of Haarlem-Amsterdam: Interreligious Dialogue
- Bishop Hans van den Hende, ordinary of Rotterdam: Ecumenism
- Bishop Frans Wiertz, ordinary of Roermond: Communication and Media
- Bishop Herman Woorts, auxiliary of Utrecht: Pilgrimages & Relations with Judaism
It is striking to see that, in the past six months, Bishop de Jong has lost all the previous portfolios he held, although he gained a newly created one. Similarly, Bishop van Burgsteden, despite his retirement, still retains one portfolio. But then again, that is in line with his expressed desire to continue being available for some duties.
Next Saturday’s consecration of Msgr. Jan Hendriks as auxiliary bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam will be one of the two final achievements of our current nuncio. Having reached the age of 75 in September, Archbishop François Bacqué will soon have his resignation accepted, and the Dutch Church and state may get ready for a new official papal representative. The only other appointment prepared under his guidance is that of Breda’s Bishop Liesen, whose installation will take place on 28 January.
The general impression of Saturday’s ceremony, then, is that of a farewell to the nuncio, an impression further strengthened by his reception by the bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam a week ago. There, Bishop Punt made a point of expressing his appreciation for Archbishop Bacqué’s work for the Dutch Church.
And that is quite a body of work. Perhaps the most visible job of a papal nuncio is preparing the appointment of new bishops. The nuncio not only announces new appointments, but also works with diocesan clergy, the bishops’ conference, the Congregation for Bishops in Rome and ultimately the pope in making the right choice. The nuncio has a key role in investigating the priests nominated as possible new bishops and forwards his conclusions to Rome, where the Holy Father ultimately makes the decision.
Archbishop Bacqué was appointed as Papal Nuncio to the Netherlands on 27 February 2001, the 11th papal representative in an unbroken line since the future Cardinal Tacci Porcelli arrived on these shores in 1911. Only one of the nine men between these two had a longer time here: the wartime nuncio Paolo Giobbe (1935-1959). In the 11 years that Archbishop Bacqué represented the Holy See and Father here, he has been responsible for no less than twelve appointments, listed below:
- 11 April 2001: Gerard de Korte as Auxiliary Bishop of Utrecht and Titular Bishop of Caesarea in Mauretania
- 21 July 2001: Jos Punt as Bishop of Haarlem
- 9 September 2006: Hans van den Hende as Coadjutor Bishop of Breda
- 11 December 2007: Wim Eijk as Archbishop of Utrecht
- 18 June 2008: Gerard de Korte as Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden
- 7 December 2009: Theodorus Hoogenboom as Auxiliary Bishop of Utrecht and Titular Bishop of Bistue
- 7 December 2009: Herman Woorts as Auxiliary Bishop of Utrecht and Titular Bishop of Giufi Salaria
- 15 July 2010: Jan Liesen as Auxiliary Bishop of ‘s Hertogenbosch and Titular Bishop of Tunnuna
- 15 July 2010: Rob Mutsaerts as Auxiliary Bishop of ‘s Hertogenbosch and Titular Bishop of Uccula
- 10 May 2011: Hans van den Hende as Bishop of Rotterdam
- 25 October 2011: Jan Hendriks as Auxiliary Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam and Titular Bishop of Arsacal
- 26 November 2011: Jan Liesen as Bishop of Breda
Saturday’s consecration will certainly be the last one resulting from Archbishop Bacqué’s work, and that body of work will leave a lasting impression on the Dutch Church. The current episcopate in the Netherlands is young and has been almost completely overhauled in the past decade. We may yet be surprised by future developments, but the time of new appointments will be over for the foreseeable future. For now, most dioceses are led by bishops appointed following Archbishop Bacqué’s advice. The only exceptions are the ordinaries of ‘s Hertogenbosch and Roermond, Bishops Antoon Hurkmans and Frans Wiertz, and the latter diocese’s auxiliary, Bishop Everard de Jong.
Archbishop Bacqué’s work here will finally be recognised in part by the presence of all Dutch bishops (barring one or two emeriti), the rectors of several seminaries, the abbot of St. Adalbert Abbey, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Polycarp, representatives of the Order of Malta and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, and, on behalf of the government, defence secretary Hans Hillen, at the coming consecration of Msgr. Hendriks.
 Bisdom Haarlem-Amsterdam
 Bisdom Rotterdam