A diocesan statement about Fr. Paul Vlaar

The Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam has published a statement regarding Father Paul Vlaar and his World Cup Mass, about which I wrote a few days ago. Here is my translation:

On Sunday 11 July, Pastor Paul Vlaar of Obdam celebrated the Holy Eucharist in the spirit of the Football World Cup, wearing an orange chasuble, and did insufficient justice, in text and form, to the sanctity of the Eucharist. The footage of this has caused indignation among faithful here and abroad.

In the past the bishop had impressed upon Fr Vlaar not to mix the Holy Eucharist with profane events. The pastor has said to fully support this and promised to abide. The pastor’s pastoral zeal and commitment are not under discussion.

Following this new incident the bishop again met with Fr. Vlaar, imposed an immediate time of reflection on him and relieved him of his priestly duties for the time being. Things will once again be considered at a later date.

The situation created by the ‘orange Mass’ was a difficult and painful one for many people. The comments in my blog reflected that. I am glad to see that Bishop Punt made the best decision at this time. Change must ideally not be imposed from Rome, but must come from the person in question. A time of reflection allows for that.

Let’s keep Fr. Vlaar in our prayers, that his time of reflection may be fruitful.

Mottos and titular sees

The vast majority of bishops choose a motto that is a summary of their priorities or attitudes in the episcopate. These mottos usually also appear in the coat of arms of the bishop. The two new bishops that were appointed today have revealed their mottos during a press conference today.

Msgr. Mutsaerts chooses a motto which comes as no surprise for those who know him and his writings: Veritas vos Liberabit (‘The Truth will set you free’). In a commentary, the bishop elect said: “The faith is very interesting and very beautiful, but what matters is that it is true”

Msgr. Liesen chose Deus providebit (‘God will provide’) as his motto. He applies this to his own life, in which he tries to trust on God’s providence, even if he does not have the ambition to be a bishop (and the best bishops often never wanted to be bishops, of course). But God will provide.

Of course, both men also became heads of titular sees. Msgr. Liesen is the titular bishop of Tunnuna, and Msgr. Mutsaerts of Uccula, both in modern Tunisia.

A glance at Twitter and blogs shows a careful optimism at the appointments. Especially the media experience of former blogger Msgr. Mutsaerts, combined with his strong opinions on orthodoxy and the state of the Church in the Netherlands, is welcomed, I gather. Msgr. Liesen, meanwhile, is hailed by some of his brother priests as a kind and good priest. He also should have some good theological grounding.

Today, not tomorrow

Alright, I got that slightly wrong. The two new auxiliary bishops for ‘s-Hertogenbosch have already been named today. Katholiek Nederland reports that the bishops elect are Fathers Rob Mutsaerts and Jan Liesen. Father Mutsaerts is a former blogger, maintaining the critical orthodox blog ‘Groene Pepers’ which is now defunct. It will be interesting to see what he will be like as a bishop.

52-year-old Bishop Elect Mutsaerts has been parish priest in various places and was also conrector of the St. John’s centre seminary. Before studying for the priesthood, he studied Law. He is the second bishop in his family: he is related to Bishop Wilhelmus Mutsaerts, bishop of ‘s-Hertogenbosch from 1943 to 1960. As auxiliary bishop he will be the first vicar general of the diocese.

50-year old Father Jan Liesen hails from the Diocese of Roermond. He studied in Rome and Jerusalem and teaches at the seminaries in Roermond, Haarlem-Amsterdam en ‘s-Hertogenbosch. He is a doctor in Bible Sciences and a member of the International Theological Commission, which has an advisory role to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Bishop Antoon Hurkmans flanked by his new auxilary bishops: Rob Mutsaerts (left) and Jan Liesen

The website of the diocese has more information: the consecration of the new bishops will take place on 18 September in the cathedral of Saint John in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Two new bishops to be announced tomorrow

Earlier today I heard that there were strong rumours in the Diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch that the appointment of two auxiliary bishops was only days away, and that has now been confirmed by Omroep Brabant, the local regional TV and radio station. Bishop Hurkmans, the ordinary of the diocese, had requested the appointment a couple of years ago, when he was in ill health. He has since recovered and some voices said that he had rescinded the request. Evidently that is not true, or Rome chose to appoint two auxiliaries regardless.

The Diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch is the largest diocese in the Netherlands when it comes to the number of Catholics. Catholic Hierarchy mentions a number of some 1.4 million. That is more than half the total population  of the diocese, which encompasses the eastern half of the province of North Brabant as well as southeast Gelderland.

The appointment of two new bishops will bring the total number of active bishops in the Netherlands to an unprecedented thirteen, six of whom will be auxiliaries. There are also eight emeritus bishops, including the only Dutch elector, Cardinal Simonis.

‘s-Hertogenbosch has about 1,000 priests, both religious and diocesan, so there seems to be ample choice. Assuming, of course, that the bishops elect will actually be from the diocese they will be appointed for.