In a press conference earlier today, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, of Malines-Brussels, together with Bishops Johan Bonny (Antwerp) and Guy Harpigny (Tournai), outlined the new plans of the Belgian bishops to deal with the ongoing abuse crisis. Since the Committee headed by Prof. Peter Adriaenssens stepped down in June, after all their files had been seized in an illegal police raid, the bishops have been working to revitalise their efforts the come clean with the horrors of the past decades and to offer recognition and healing to the victims.
A Dutch report on the press conference, together with a link to the press statement as read by Bishop Bonny, may be found here. A translation of that statement, which outlines the future plans, is available here.
Saturday’s consecration of Bishops Mutsaerts and Liesen will be muted a bit, because of the unexpected death of Father André Uijttewaal in a bicycle accident. Fr. Uijttewaal was parish priest in the town of Hintham, Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch. News reports state that the priest fell when he tried to overtake another cyclist. Their bikes’ handlebars got entangled when the other cyclist, a 17-year-old boy, was spooked by Fr. Uijttewaal overtaking him. They both fell, and the priest hit his head on the curb along the bicycle path. Police officers on the scene and the personnel of a trauma helicopter tried to reanimate him to no avail.
Fr. André Uijttewaal was 50 years old, and a priest for 15 years. Bishop Hurkmans expressed shock upon hearing the news and said that Saturday’s Mass will include a remembrance for Fr. Uijttewaal.
It goes to show: life and death are forever intertwined
From the Gospel reading of today (or yesterday in more than half the world by now), part the heart-wrenchingly beautiful parable that shows God’s endless compassion and mercy for the returning sinner.
“And rising up, he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion and running to him fell upon his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him: Father: I have sinned against heaven and before you I am not now worthy to be called your son.”
“It was fit that we should make merry and be glad: for this your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost, and is found.”