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In a letter published on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy, taking place on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 15 June this year, the Congregation for the Clergy writes a letter (translation)to the world’s priests. The letter, signed by the Congregation’s prefect, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza (pictured), and secretary Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta, focusses on St. Paul’s appeal to all Christians: “This is the will of God: your holiness!” (1 Thess. 4:3).
The authors firmly relate the letter to the upcoming Year of Faith and the anniversaries of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and also the upcoming General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will focus on the new evangelisation. These latter three events must be the focus of priests everywhere in the framework of the Year of Faith.
The final paragraph outlines why priests especially need to be holy:
“Today’s world, with its ever more painful and preoccupying lacerations, needs God - The Trinity, and the Church has the task to proclaim Him. In order to fulfil this task, the Church must remain indissolubly embraced with Christ and never part from Him; it needs Saints who dwell “in the heart of Jesus” and are happy witnesses of God’s Trinitarian Love. And in order to serve the Church and the World, Priests need to be Saints!”
Eight days before his 92nd birthday, Philippine cardinal José Tomás Sánchez passed away early this morning in Manila. He was among the oldest members of the College of Cardinals, with only six cardinals older.
Cardinal Sánchez was born in 1920 in the Philippines and became a priest for the Diocese of Sorsogon in 1946. In 1968 he was appointed as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Caceres and only three years later, in 1971, as Coadjutor Bishop of Lucena. He succeeded to that see in 1976. In 1982, Bishop Sánchez became Archbishop Sánchez of Nueva Segovia, from which position he resigned in March of 1986, five months after he was called to Rome to become secretary of the Vatican mission office, the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Archbishop Sánchez was created a cardinal by Blessed Pope John Paul II in the consistory of 28 June 1991, and almost immediately afterwards became the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. He resigned from the latter in 1993 and from the former in 1996.
He held the title church of San Pio V a Villa Carpegna, first as cardinal-deacon and later as cardinal-priest. Cardinal Sánchez never participated in a conclave, being already over 80 when Pope Benedict XVI was elected.
The College of Cardinals now numbers 212, with 124 electors.
Earlier today, several news channels broke the news that Msgr. Dr. Johannes Willibrordus Maria (Jan for short) Hendriks has been appointed as the new auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam. Katholiek Nieuwsblad and Rorate both published the appointment about 90 minutes before the usual embargo was lifted at noon. Katholiek Nieuwsblad evidently realised their error and retracted the news item, before republishing it at the proper time.
The appointment comes as virtually no surprise. The name of Hendriks widely circulated when Rotterdam became vacant earlier this year, and some also mentioned him for Breda, which remains vacant still. Msgr. Hendriks is a priest of the Diocese of Rotterdam, although he has been working in the neighbouring Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam for years, most recently as rector of the Tiltenberg seminary, canon of the cathedral chapter, and canon lawyer for the legal court of Haarlem-Amsterdam. Since 2004, he has also been a consultor for the Congregation for the Clergy.
The bishop elect is a productive author, having written books and articles about such topics as canon law, the Blessed Virgin, celibacy, Vatican II and education, and various others.
The new auxiliary bishop succeeds Bishop Jan van Burgsteden, whose retirement was approved at the same time at Msgr. Hendriks’ appointment. The amiable and much-loved Van Burgsteden has been auxiliary bishop since 2000, and turned 75 in December. Despite his age, he travelled down to Madrid for August’s World Youth Days and would probably be able to function a while longer as auxiliary.
As auxiliary bishop, Msgr. Hendriks will hold the titular see of Arsacal, located in modern Algeria. The date of his consecration is announced as 10 December, but whether or not it can take place in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Bavo, which is undergoing extensive restorations, remains to be seen.
As motto, the bishop elect chose a quote from the Gospel of John: “Quodcumque dixerit vobis, facite” (“Do whatever He tells you”).
And lastly for now, fittingly for an active Facebook user, Msgr. Hendriks releases his first statement via that medium: “Today it’s been announced that I have been appointed as auxiliary bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, with Arsacal as titular see. Heartfelt thanks to all who pray for me and wished me well.”
The bishop, clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam have received a kindhearted and intelligent auxiliary bishop and vicar general who will undoubtedly prove to be an able shepherd for the Church.
Photo credit: RKK
I haven’t read much about yet, but on the website of the Archdiocese of Utrecht I read that Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, has written a letter to all the world’s ordinaries of dioceses and other ecclesiastical jurisdictions. In it, the cardinal asks them to provide for 60 hours of Eucharistic Adoration in their diocese, for the occasion for the 60th anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Pope Benedict XVI, “to demonstrate to him our gratitude, our affection, and our communion with him, both in his service to God and to the Church and above all in that “Truth which shines upon the world” to which he continually calls us through his teaching”.
The anniversary is on 29 June, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Do read the letter via the link above. There’s little need for me to repeat it here, after all.
The archdiocese has had a prayer composed for this reason, a prayer that is in the first place intended for use during Adoration, but may also be used at the end of Mass, other liturgical celebrations or in personal prayer. The original Dutch text is available here. Below is my translation.
Lord Jesus Christ,
who art our Bread of Life,
our sustenance for time and eternity,
like the Apostles after Your Resurrection we adore You,
You who are truly present among us,
especially through the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.
We thank You for protecting and guiding Your Church through the ages.
In His care for the Church Your Spirit has appointed our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI
to be the successor of Peter, the first among the Apostles.
With the pope we thank You this month for the sixtieth anniversary of his priestly ordination.
We pray that his dedication to You and Your Church may bear rich fruits,
fruits of faith, hope and love which last.
Keep on supporting him with Your wisdom, power and love;
that he may show us the way to You in faith and joy.
We pray for Your entire Church;
That all the baptised live from Your Gospel,
and are a blessing for all on Earth;
We pray for all the priests,
That they, as your special friends, be dedicated shepherds of Your people,
honest and servient
and that they may thus bring many to You.
We pray for vocations to the priesthood;
that many understand Your voice and serve You and Your Church
as holy and joyful priests, to the joy and sanctification of many.
Grant us the priests we need.
Lord Jesus Christ,
with Pope Benedict we pray you
on the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church,
of Saint Joseph, protector of the Church,
and of Saints Peter and Paul, blood witnesses and foundations of the Church:
remain with us, Your entire Church and every one of us personally,
You, our Shepherd, our Protector, our High Priest, who lives in eternity.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito
In all honesty, I am very pleasantly surprised – and a bit relieved – that the bishops’ conference was able to release a common statement about today’s statements in the Volkskrant. Their track record in quick responses to developing news stories has not always been the best, although I do think it is improving. Let’s see what they have to say:
The Dutch Bishops’ Conference wish it to be known that the article of 18 April in the Volkskrant contain a number of manifest errors. For example, contrary to what the Volkskrant writes, Archbishop Eijk has never submitted a request to the Vatican Congregation for Bishops to have Bishop de Korte of Groningen-Leeuwarden removed from office.
In addition, the article claims that “the relations in the Church province have worsened because Msgr. Eijk employed investigators to search the computers of clergymen for information that is displeasing to the archbishop.” This too is not the case. There has been no contact with whatever investigations company, let alone that “Msgr. Eijk himself recently sent investigators to his bishops to check their computers,” as the Volkskrant writes.
Finally, there is no case of a looming “great delay of major projects within the dioceses”: the dioceses are autonomous in realising projects, although cooperation is certainly sought and found in some areas. Neither is anything known of “putting initiatives on the back burner to turn the bad financial tide in the dioceses.”
The two sources named in the Volkskrant article, the ladies Stienstra and Schreur, have indicated that the appeal to the Congregation for the Clergy has not been sent yet. It still remains to be seen to what conclusion, if any, this sordid affair will lead.
A misleading title, old news and unsubstantiated claims: it must be a Dutch newspaper writing about the Church again. And it is.
Daily the Volkskrant devotes some space to a piece informing the readers, per the title, that Catholics think that the pope should call Archbishop Wim Eijk to order. The reason: he has apparently lost all credit with orthodox Catholics. Well, that’s news to me, but once the names of two people showed up in the piece, the claim is understandable. Ms. Nelly Stienstra and Ms. Erica Schruer have a long history of public disagreement with the archbishop, and have often turned to name-calling in blogs and public media. In my humble opinion, these two people are hardly objective sources in such matters.
The newspaper piece also presents the orthodox Contact Rooms-Katholieken group, of which Ms. Stienstra is the chair, and the Latin Liturgy Society, of which Ms. Schruer used to be the chair, as credentials, although these groups have either no official standing in either the archdiocese or in Rome, or are simple not involved in these matters at all.
A 32-page appeal sent to the Congregation for the Clergy (the current prefect of which, Cardinal Piacenza, has come out in defense of Abp. Eijk before), detailing the reasons why the archbishop should be reined in, is a mysterious document of which the archdiocese’s press chief knows nothing. Some of the reasoning in said document is detailed in the article, although the accuracy seems very doubtful. For example, it mentions that a spat between Archbishop Eijk and the accountant of his previous diocese, Groningen-Leeuwarden, caused the former to request the dismissal of that diocese’s current ordinary, Bishop Gerard de Korte. Other accusations say that the archbishop has ordered the investigation of the personal computers of clergymen – and even other bishops – for information that they are less than positive about him. Both are claims that not only seems quite ludicrous, but also very doubtful when seen in the light of (secular and canon) law.
Then there are also claims that the papal nuncio, Archbishop Bacqué, has been mediating between the archbishop and the other bishops in the Dutch Bishops’ Conference. Large financial projects of the dioceses, the article says, are being put on hold because of the archbishop’s behaviour in running the archdiocese. As if he has much of a say in the way other dioceses manage their finances.
As for the truth behind the matter? I don’t pretend to know much of it. Certainly, Archbishop Eijk and his way of working are not loved by everyone. But these claims are quite unbelievable when considering the person of the archbishop, the legality of the suggested steps taken by him, the lack of objectivity of the main sources of the story, and the lack of previous news about much of the events mentioned (there is more in it, but that is all old news).
Easter is coming. The media’s eye is on the Church even more at this time of year. And people with personal vendettas against prelates and other Church officials use it to win another battle in their ongoing war. Such a pity that the result is such very shoddy workmanship.
Pope Benedict XVI has spoken about the role and duties of bishops in a homily at the consecration five new bishops, on Saturday. Read the full text over at Zenit and in a Dutch translation here. The Holy Father discusses the unity of Christians and the Apostolic Succession, taken a line from the Acts of the Apostles (2:42) as inspiration. He also gives an explanation of what faith is.
Three of the five new bishops will work in the Roman Curia: Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci is the secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and titular archbishop of Menevia in Umbria; Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai is the secretary of Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and titular archbishop of Sila in northern Africa; and Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta is secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy and titular archbishop of Alba Maritima in Croatia.
The two remaining bishops are to work in the diplomatic corps of the Holy See, although they have not been assigned to the nunciature of a particular country (I hear the Dutch nunciature will become available soon…). Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi is titular archbishop of Sutrium in Lazio, Italy; and Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra is titular archbishop of Thelepte in Tunisia.
Photo credit:  REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini,  ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images
Ever so gently, the natural process changes the composition of the Curia in Rome. Yesterday, two cardinals retired for reasons of age. Both men, Cláudio Cardinal Hummes of the Congregation for Clergy, and Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, are one year past the required retirement age of 75.
Their successors were announced on the very same day. Cardinal Hummes, in a relatively unusual move, is succeeded by the secretary of the congregation he headed for four years. Italian Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, 66, is now the prefect. He is generally seen is an intelligent, levelheaded and honest man. As prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy he will be responsible for the affairs concerning diocesan priests, as well as the legal aspects of running parishes. In February he wrote a letter to Archbishop Eijk of Utrecht, clarifying the latter’s right to regulate employment in his cathedral parish. Archbishop Piacenza again made an appearance in my blog with a letter to all the priests.
The Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, which is responsible for all charitable actions and initiatives that relate to the care of the needy, will now be headed by Archbishop Robert Sarah (65). Until now, the Guinean-born archbishop was secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Both archbishops, as heads of a congregation and a pontifical council, are very likely candidates for the red cardinal’s hat in an upcoming consistory. They’ll then join their predecessors who, not being 80 yet, can still vote in a conclave.
Cláudio Hummes, the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, has written a letter to all the priests on the occasion of the upcoming closing of the Year of the Priest, this summer in Rome. He repeats the pope’s invitation to all priests to come to Rome for that occasion, but Cardinal Hummes adds that a large presence of priests in St. Peter’s Square will also be a major sign of solidarity with the pope.