On the advice of his GP, Bishop Antoon Hurkmans of ‘s-Hertogenbosch has taken a leave of absence from his duties as ordinary of the diocese. These duties will be taken over by Auxiliary Bishop Rob Mutsaerts, who will form the temporary staff with fellow Auxiliary Bishop Jan Liesen and and economic director Deacon Peter Broeders.
Bishop Hurkmans announces that, in the past two years, he has repeatedly crossed his own physical and medical boundaries and is now paying the price. A leave of absence is now possible with the two new auxiliary bishops, appointed and consecrated earlier this year. It is unknown how long the leave will take, but the bishop won’t be spending it at his episcopal residence in the centre of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
Some see Bishop Mutsaerts taking over the duties of Bishop Hurkmans as a prelude to the future: a future in which Mutsaerts is appointed is Bishop Coadjutor and eventually the new bishop of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. While it seems a natural conclusion to draw, it is by no means as simple as that. The appointment of a new bishop is a fairly extensive procedure in which the diocese in question, the nuncio and Rome can all present candidates, and even then someone not on the lists may be appointed.
As of now there is no indication that 66-year-old Bishop Hurkmans intends to offer his resignation to the pope.