A very interesting development in the ongoing argument concerning Archbishop Eijk’s decision to fire a volunteer, Ms. Nelly Stienstra, from parish duties, after she had publically made him out to be a liar. As we know she then went public with her allegations, some true, others not, and her lawyer, Ms. Erica Schruer, followed suit by publishing a private letter to the archbishop on her blog. It now becomes clear that the archbishop forwarded the issue to Rome, where Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, concerned himself with clarifying matters. He sent a letter to Archbishop Eijk, dated 18 January, and that letter has now been released to the public. Here is the Dutch version, and the English translation is at the bottom of this post.
There is a press release from the archdiocese here, from which I highlight the second paragraph:
“Earlier this month, Archbishop Eijk had made an appointment to meet with Ms. Stienstra and her advisor, Ms. Schruer, to give her the opportunity to explain her vision and actions. But this meeting was cancelled by both ladies a few days in advance, because of “the archbishop’s comments in the media about Ms. Stienstra.” Ms. Stienstra requested mediation from Msgr. van Luyn or Msgr. de Korte. When asked about it, both said not to be willing. If mediation would prove to be not possible, Ms. Stienstra wanted to go to the diocesan office of litigation. The archdiocese points out that Stienstra’s advisor, Ms. Schruer, has depicted Archbishop Eijk in the past weeks as someone who lies and who follows a “culture of account settlement”. She has also suggested that Msgr. Eijk was unable to find co-consecrators for the consecration of this Saturday, a fact [sic] that he could use “when tendering his resignation on health grounds, because his work would have been made impossible, losing the logic of cause and effect out of sight – but that is a chronic problem with this patient.”
All the same, Msgr. Eijk was willing to have an open conversation, but that is now no longer an option. Putting the question to the diocesan litigation office is, following the letter from Msgr. Piacenza, now also pointless: Rome has already decided that Msgr. Eijk acted within his rights. The litigation office can’t judge that.”
The difference in attitude between the archbishop on the one hand and Ms. Stienstra and her advisor on the other is striking. Whereas the archbishop only went public to correct the allegations made against him or to communicate something factual, his opponents published every allegation, private communication and even dragged in other events (such as the consecration of the two auxiliary bishops, other issues in the archdiocese and Church province and even abroad) to take potshots at the archbishop.
I wonder what they’ll try next. To me it seems the matter is settled. It’s not a nice situation, but the archbishop was within his rights.
Congregation for the Clergy
From the Vatican, 18 January 2010
Most Reverend Excellency,
Concerning the question if your Excellency can prevent a lay person from performing the duties of lector during the Eucharist in the cathedral, the following:
According to can. 230, $2 of the Code of Canon Law, “Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation…” the judgement of suitability for this appointment lies in the first place with the diocesan bishop and only subordinately to the priest who performs pastoral care for the community he is responsible for “under the authority of the diocesan bishop.” (can. 519).
Since, as can. 838, $1, says: “The direction of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church which resides in the Apostolic See and, according to the norm of law, the diocesan bishop.” The regulation of the holy liturgy is solely submitted to the authority of the Church. In a specific Church it is the diocesan bishop who, iure nativo, is repsonsible for the liturgy, he regulates is and at the ministry of the sacrament (cf. cann. 838 $1 and 4, 841).
Within the bounds of his own authority and in agreement with the regulations published by the Holy See, the bishop is allowed to establish norms for the liturgy, taking into account special circumstances and local needs. Clergy and faithful are bound to these norms, including any exempt institutes: “Within the limits of his competence, it pertains to the diocesan bishop in the Church entrusted to him to issue liturgical norms which bind everyone.” (Can 838, $4)
Since the faithful, “even in their own manner of acting, are always obliged to maintain communion with the Church” (209, $1) and “are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church” (212, $1), is, seen in this perspective, he who incites a hostile attitude, in word and deed, to the bishop, clearly not suited for the role of lector in liturgical acts. The bishop can very well take comparable steps, since he “is bound to promote the common discipline of the whole Church and therefore to urge the observance of all ecclesiastical laws”(can. 392, $1) and “he is to exercise vigilance so that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, especially regarding the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and the veneration of the saints…” (can. 392, $2).
Wishing your loyal pastoral care much fruitfulness,
In greatest regard,
Yours in the Lord,
Tit. Archbishop of Vittoriana