Diocesan decision: no Communion

The diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch has made a decision about next Sunday’s Mass:

“The church council of the cathedral of St. John in ‘s-Hertogenbosch has, in cooperation with the diocese of Den Bosch, decided not to distribute Communion at next Sunday’s 10 o’clock Mass, because various groups have announced to use the Mass as a protest action. The diocese mourns the fact that the celebration of the Eucharist is used for this purpose and asks for respect for holding Catholic services. Media will be placed in a separate press area, in the northern transept. Seen from the entrance in the tower that is front left near the altar. They are requested to not walk through the church or in front of the altar during the Mass. No one will be excluded from participating in the celebration, but they are being asked to participate respectfully.”

It’s a necessity because of the sad fact that even some Catholics are willing to put their own grievances above the service of God.


Elections: weighing the options

Next week I will be casting my vote for the city council of Groningen. I have yet to decide which party will be getting my red-pencilled ballot paper, so some research into the various parties is in order. The question I am trying to answer is: what party best represents my own views as a Catholic, and which party has the best chance – via strategic coalitions, for example – to turn those ideas into policy?

I have a choice between eleven parties, or twelve if I count the option to cast a blank vote. But I’ll only do that if I draw the conclusion that I have no confidence in any party (or if I really don’t care, but that’s unlikely). Some parties are not really options for me, of course: some of the local or one-issue parties don’t speak for me, for example. Neither do the liberal parties VVD and D66. My choice is between the left and the conservative, to simplistically delineate them. PvdA (social-democrats), SP (socialists), GreenLeft, CDA (Christian democrats) and ChristianUnion (social Christian democrats). The first three and the last two have connected lists, which means they’ll form and speak as a block in the council together. All have extensive social programs, with the left focussing on the individual and the conservatives on society as a whole.

The Christian point of view is an important one for me, and I think it should be heard in politics. Of the five parties above, only the ChristianUnion is outspokenly Christian. The CDA is as well in name, but reading through their program their Christianity is far less clear. I also don’t really like their overly blunt approach towards beggars and addicts in the city. But they are a major and thus influential party, having had  many seats in the past and they’ll probably continue to have a significant number after the elections as well.

The downside of the ChristianUnion is that they are very much Protestant, which leads to a limited approach and relation to the faith. Their founding documents which consider the Catholic faith idolatry is also an obstacle. Their advantage is stability. The ChristianUnion does not water down its beliefs, but is also not limited by them, and I think that such clarity can do much good.

There are no clear Catholic choices in these elections. Is the ‘least bad’ option good enough? Voting is always better than not voting. And perhaps a vote for any Christian party will open the door for more openly Catholic politicians in the future… I am still undecided. Online election guides keep directing me to the CDA or the SP, so until 3 March I’ll probably keep weighing the options.

Press conference points

Bishop Hurkmans and Henk Krol at the press conference following their meeting

This morning, Bishop Antoon Hurkmans and cathedral administrator Father Geertjan van Rossem met with Gaykrant editor Henk Krol and two representatives of the COC to discuss the fallout of the Reusel affair. The discussion was set to have been open and friendly, respectful and a breath of fresh air, but agreement was not reached. Not very surprising, in my opinion.  

Bishop Hurkmans emphasised that denying Communion to practicing homosexuals does not exclude from the Church’s life. But since the Communion is also a confirmation of faith, the receiver expresses his agreement with that. That means that the person who receives Communion lives in accordance with the faith and the Church’s teachings.  

The bishop also said he shares the pain of those who can’t receive Communion. He emphasised the importance of a person’s own responsibility to receive and so confirm their faith in the Church’s teachings. That is counter to the prevalent attitude that Communion is a right and even a custom – that receiving should be part of every Mass one attends.  

Fr. van Rossem acknowledges that things have grown somewhat lax in respect to handing out Communion, and he expects that the faithful will receive more education on the meaning of the Eucharist in the future. Let’s hope that will indeed happen.  

There have been no statements yet about how the diocese plans to respond to protests on Sunday at the cathedral. The diocese is still considering that, but Fr. van Rossem did say that there is concern about a possible disruption of the Mass.  

I am seriously considering travelling down to ‘s-Hertogenbosch on Sunday, to attend Mass there and offer a counter-balance to the protesters. Mass is not the place or time  for protest, and in this case we should perhaps try to maintain the sacrality of the Mass, a sacrality that transcends any protest greatly.

Lectio divina with the pope

On 12 February, Pope Benedict XVI visited the major seminary in Rome. Among others, he led the seminarians and staff in the lectio divina, the spiritual readings of a Bible passage. The pope chose chapter 15 of the Gospel of John, and went on to focus on various aspects of the text.

It’s an interesting read, certainly in this season of Lent.

The English text of his catechesis can be found here, and my translation into Dutch is here.