Beatification information

What with the celebration of Queen’s Day here in the Netherlands and the assorted social engagements that accompany it, I find little time to write something substantial about tomorrow’s big event: the beatification of Pope John Paul II, whom we may from then on call Blessed John Paul II. Luckily, several other bloggers and reporters are in Rome to share the amazing atmosphere in the eternal city with their readers. I happily link to them.

Father Roderick and Steve Nelson are in Rome for SQPN. They give a foretaste of the excitement and the crowds here. Anna Arco of the Catholic Herald shares her first Roman blog post to give an excellent overview of the events of today, including the closure of St. Peter’s Square at 1 this afternoon until 5:30 tomorrow. Finally, Rocco Palmo, of the excellent Whispers in the Loggia, offers several detailed posts about the preparations as well.

I will spend tomorrow morning in front of the tv. Dutch Catholic broadcaster RKK will start live coverage at 10 in the morning.

Fr. Michel Remery celebrated Mass for the Dutch pilgrims in Rome's church of the Frisians today

Photo credit: Louis Runhaar/RKK

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A final rebuttal from the archbishop

Following the quick official response to the Volkskrant article that blamed Archbishop Wim Eijk of all manner of things, the aforementioned newspaper now publishes a letter from the archbishop himself and admits that “the editorial office of the Volkskrant concludes in hindsight that more rebuttal could have been given and publishes for that reason this letter from Msgr. Eijk.”

As I wrote about the article when it was first published, it is a shoddy piece of work based on old news and unsubstantiated claims from people who believe that their own personal vendetta against the archbishop should be fought in public. It is good to see that the Volkskrant now admits almost as much and publishes the letter from the archbishop, which follows here in my translation.

The contents of the publication on the front page of the Volkskrant of Monday 18 April lead me to write a response.

Anyone is free to disagree with the policies followed by me as archbishop in the Archdiocese of Utrecht, such as the financial cuts which were deemed very necessary and thus put in practice. The fact that two Catholics apparently turned to the Pope to complain about me will not have dictated the newsworthiness to place the article on the front page. After all, anyone is free to do that as well. The newsworthiness seems to have lain in the nature of the complaints made against me.

I have need of a rebuttal in response to a number of evidently false claims which in turn are the basis of a number of complaints, although I can’t respond to all factual inaccuracies in this short letter. I am accused of having hired investigators to search the computers of my fellow bishops while I, considering the autonomy of the dioceses and the lack of hierarchical relations between me and my fellow bishops, in no way have the capacity, let alone the actual opportunity, for that. Such an investigation can therefore only take place if a detective agency would use unlawful means. This serious accusation misses any basis in fact. Since my appointment I gave not a single detective agency any assignment, let alone to investigate the private computers of other clergymen, as I am wrongly accused of in the article. There has also never been any request from my regarding the dismissal of Msgr. De Korte, bishop in Groningen-Leeuwarden.

The claim that I fired my “seriously ill financial advisor” is also incorrect. The contract with Mr. Boeser was ended after proper consultation, after Mr. Boeser had recovered from his serious illness for a number of months. In the communications regarding his departure he himself indicated to be ready for a new challenge.

I am also wrongly accused of having closed the Ariënskonvikt, the seminary in Utrecht, when this would have been unnecessary on financial grounds, considering an inheritance of several millions. This accusation seems to be based on an e-mail from Mr. Hemels to Mr. Boeser, in which Mr. Hemels refers to the possible inheritance. After having read the article in the Volkskrant, Mr. Hemels has informed the editorial office of the Volkskrant that, in an answer to his e-mail, Mr. Boeser confirmed to him that – sadly – nothing is known of this inheritance.

Msgr. dr. W.J. Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht

And now here let the whole nasty mess rest.

Rome’s crazy weekend

The prayer card of Blessed John Paul II released by the Diocese of Roermond

Rome is facing a rather busy weekend, with some 1 million visitors expected (of whom a fair number are arriving today and tomorrow) for an event that has been unmatched since the funeral of Pope John Paul II. It is therefore quite fitting that this same venerable pope is the focus of this weekend’s happenings as well.

For the first time in more than 1,000 years, a pope is being beatified by his immediate successor. And it could have happened even sooner, had Pope Benedict XVI not decided to have the regular process followed. Cardinal Ruini, vicar general of Rome and president of the Italian bishops’ conference during the conclave that elected the current pope, has recently said that he received a petition at the time signed by a significant number of cardinals, that called for the immediate canonisation of Pope John Paul II. Rather a gesture made in the heat of the moment, I would say. Still, six years since the death of the future Blessed is a very short time to reach beatification. But it is happening nonetheless.

The Belgian king and queen (kneeling) amid other heads of state during the funeral of Pope John Paul II

The Vatican has published the calendar of the beatification, which will take place on Sunday 1 May. As during his funeral, the beatification of John Paul II will be attended by numerous dignitaries from across the globe. King Albert II and Queen, as well as the prime minister will represent Belgium, a similar representation as during the funeral of the late pope. The Netherlands are also repeating their attendance at the funeral, with the smallest possible delegation. Did the prime minister attend the funeral, now only the Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Piet Hein Donner, will be present. I guess that, when it comes to relations with religions, especially the Catholic Church, the state of the Netherlands still does not really understand how things work.

Sadly, this minimal representation is also copied by the Church in the Netherlands. Cardinal Simonis is the only Dutch bishop in Rome this weekend. Simonis, the former archbishop of Utrecht and host to Pope John Paul II during his visit to the Netherlands in 1985, was created a cardinal in that same year, by the same pope. The other Dutch bishops will be in The Hague to celebrate a solemn High Mass to mark the sixth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. A lofty purpose, certainly, but it leaves the Dutch presence, and thus the sign of importance attached not only to the beatification, but also to the person of Pope John Paul II, absolutely tiny.

Luckily, with the Vatican blogmeet happening a day after the canonisation, the beatification will be well-covered by the social media. Catholic bloggers and social media entrepeneurs such as Father Roderick, Rocco Palmo and Thomas Peters are in Rome to cover the events. Follow them and some of the other bloggers in my blogroll. I’m sure they will all have much to say about the events of the weekend.

Photo credit: [1] Diocese of Roermond, [2] White House/Eric Draper

Exsultet!

From the pain of the Cross, a space of a few days brings us to the exultation of the Resurrection. Christ has risen!

“Easter morning brings us news that is ancient yet ever new: Christ is risen! The echo of this event, which issued forth from Jerusalem twenty centuries ago, continues to resound in the Church, deep in whose heart lives the vibrant faith of Mary, Mother of Jesus, the faith of Mary Magdalene and the other women who first discovered the empty tomb, and the faith of Peter and the other Apostles.”

Pope Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi message for Easter 2011

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb

Joseph of Arimathea,
wrapped the body of Jesus in the linen shroud
and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock.
And he rolled a stone
against the door of the tomb.
Mary Magdalene
and Mary the mother of Joses
saw where he was laid.

– Gospel of Mark 15: 46-47

In one of the countless tombs scattered all over the continents of this planet of ours the Son of God, the man Jesus Christ, conquered death with death. O mors! Ero mors tua! (First Antiphon of Morning Prayer for Holy Saturday). The Tree of Life from which man was banished as a result of sin is set before mankind anew in the body of Christ. “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever, and the bread which I shall give for the life of the word is my flesh” (Jn 6:51).

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

And when evening had come,
Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council,
who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God,
bought a linen shroud,
and took the body of Jesus down from the Cross.

– Gospel of Mark 15:42-43, 46

Inseparable from this mystery is the extraordinary promise spoken of by Simeon during the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: “And a sword will pierce through your heart, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:35).

This promise has also been fulfilled. How many human hearts bleed for the heart of this Mother who has paid so dearly!

Once again Jesus lies in her arms, as he did in the stable in Bethlehem (cf. Lk 2:16), during the flight into Egypt (cf. Mt 2:14) and at Nazareth (cf. Lk 2:39-40). Pietà.