With a new diocese comes a new coat of arms

Behold the new coat of arms of Bishop Hans van den Hende that goes with his new appointment to the Diocese of Rotterdam.

The symbols on the new design include elements associated with both his new diocese and his former diocese, Breda. The white lily represent the Blessed Virgin, patron of the Diocese of Breda, and the grid on the top left is that of St. Lawrence, patron of Rotterdam. The green cross on white also comes from Rotterdam (and, perhaps coincidentally, it is the reverse of the colours associated with Groningen, the diocese where Bishop van den Hende  was vicar general before he came to Breda).

The lamb of God is in the centre of the shield, and it has to do with the bishop’s own patron saint, St. John the Baptist, who directs us to Christ with the words, “Behold, the lamb of God” (John 1:29).

The motto remains unchanged. ‘Sine timore serviamus illi‘ comes from the Gospel of Luke (1:74), and means “that we may serve Him without fear”.

Requiescat in Pace, Georg Cardinal Sterzinsky

A random visit to German website Kreuz.net informs me that Georg Cardinal Sterzinsky, the emeritus archbishop of Berlin, passed away today in the early hours of the morning.

Never feeling fully at home in the new Germany exemplified by the capital Berlin, Cardinal Sterzinsky had been suffering from ill health for a number of years. This was part of his reason to request the pope to be allowed to retire, a request that was granted in February. He had the earnest wish to be able to welcome Pope Benedict XVI to Berlin later this year – a wish that was not to come true.

The first and, as yet, only Cardinal-priest of San Giuseppe all’Aurelio, Cardinal Sterzinsky was 75 years old. His obituary is available in German at the website of the Archdiocese of Berlin.

Photo credit: Walter Wetzler, Archdiocese of Berlin

Pallium Day

Which is also, of course, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the rock and the apostle to the gentiles, in many ways the foundations of the Church. And also, it is the day upon which Pope Benedict XVI celebrates 60 years of priesthood.

As every year, the metropolitan archbishops, standing firmly in the line of the aforementioned saints and in union with the Holy Father, today receive their pallia. In the words of the pope, from today’s homily:

“What does this mean? It may remind us in the first instance of Christ’s easy yoke that is laid upon us (cf. Mt 11:29f.). Christ’s yoke is identical with his friendship. It is a yoke of friendship and therefore “a sweet yoke”, but as such it is also a demanding yoke, one that forms us. It is the yoke of his will, which is a will of truth and love. For us, then, it is first and foremost the yoke of leading others to friendship with Christ and being available to others, caring for them as shepherds. This brings us to a further meaning of the pallium: it is woven from the wool of lambs blessed on the feast of Saint Agnes. Thus it reminds us of the Shepherd who himself became a lamb, out of love for us. It reminds us of Christ, who set out through the mountains and the deserts, in which his lamb, humanity, had strayed. It reminds us of him who took the lamb – humanity – me – upon his shoulders, in order to carry me home. It thus reminds us that we too, as shepherds in his service, are to carry others with us, taking them as it were upon our shoulders and bringing them to Christ. It reminds us that we are called to be shepherds of his flock, which always remains his and does not become ours. Finally the pallium also means quite concretely the communion of the shepherds of the Church with Peter and with his successors – it means that we must be shepherds for unity and in unity, and that it is only in the unity represented by Peter that we truly lead people to Christ.”

The harvest is quite large today, with 49 new metropolitan bishops appointed since last year’s ceremony. A significant number comes from traditionally Catholic countires and areas, such as South-Anmerica, the Philippines, but also various sub-Saharan countries, North-America, and a few nations in Europe and Asia.

Archbishop Lacroix of Québec receives his pallium from the Holy Father

Below follows the list of new metropolitan archbishops. The vast majority of these men were specifically apointed to archbishops, but a number became so because their dioceses were elevated to archdioceses. Recently, this happened with two dioceses in Angola – Malanje and Saurimo – and three in Brazil – Passo Funda, Pelotas and Santa Maria.

Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze, Benin City
Archbishop Thumma Bala, Hyderabad
Archbishop John Barwa, Cuttack-Bhubaneswar
Archbishop Jacinto Bergmann, Pelotas
Archbishop Vincenzo Bertolone, Catanzaro-Squillace
Archbishop Pedro Brito Guimarães, Palmas
Archbishop Pierre-Marie Joseph Carré, Montpellier
Archbishop Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil, Daegu
Archbishop Fernando Natalio Chomalí Garib, Concepción
Archbishop Paul Stagg Coakley, Oklahoma City
Archbishop Sérgio da Rocha, Brasília
Archbishop Charles Henry Dufour, Kingston in Jamaica
Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, Santiago de Chile
Archbishop Antoine Ganyé, Cotonou
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, San Antonio
Archbishop José Horacio Gómez, Los Angeles
Archbishop José Manuel Imbamba, Saurimo
Archbishop Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Québec
Archbishop Dimas Lara Barbosa, Campo Grande
Archbishop Jairo Jaramillo Monsalve, Barranquila
Archbishop Darío de Jesús Monsalve Mejía , Cali
Archbishop Pascal N’Koué, Parakou
Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia, Turin
Archbishop Paul Yembuado Ouédraogo, Bobo-Dioulasso
Archbishop Jose Serofia Palma, Cebu
Archbishop Luis María Pérez de Onraita Aguirre, Malanje
Archbishop Guire Poulard, Port-au-Prince
Archbishop Juan Alberto Puiggari, Paraná
Archbishop Johannes Maria Trilaksyanta Pujasumarta, Semarang
Archbishop Murilo Sebastião Ramos Krieger, São Salvador de Bahia
Archbishop Gonzalo Restrepo Restrepo, Manizales
Archbishop Hélio Adelar Rubert, Santa Maria
Archbishop Juda Thadaeus Ruwa’ichi, Mwanza
Archbishop Rémi Joseph Gustave Sainte-Marie, Lilongwe
Archbishop Jesús Rubén Salazar Gómez, Bogotá
Archbishop James Peter Sartain, Seattle
Archbishop Pedro Ercílio Simon, Passo Fundo
Archbishop William Slattery, Pretoria
Archbishop George Stack, Cardiff
Archbishop Zbignev Stankevics, Riga
Archbishop Fausto Gabriel Trávez Trávez, Quito
Archbishop Marjan Turnšek, Maribor
Archbishop Sergio Lasam Utleg, Tuguegarao
Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales, Guatemala
Archbishop Lewis Zeigler, Monrovia

Five of these men, namely archbishops Barwa, N’Koue, Poulard, Pujasumarta and Zeigler, were unable to be in Rome for the ceremony. They will receive their pallia at a later date.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile

All the news in one place

Keep an eye out today for the much-anticipated launch of the new Vatican news site. From the sneak preview that came online last week, it would seem that News.va combines most of the (social) media – l’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, video streams and recordings, Flickr, the Vatican Information Service, and so on – used by the Vatican into one place. Pope Benedict XVI will officially open the website, which was first heralded at the Vatican blogmeet in May, tomorrow.

Belgian dean welcomes Dutch-trained priests

Father Felix Van Meerbergen is the dean of Diest, in the Belgian Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. He shares some encouraging words regarding the arrival of the first Dutch-trained Belgian priest (Fr. Andy Penne) to the archdiocese. There is significant opposition among laity and clergy alike about these allegedly very orthodox priests, but Dean Van Meerbergen puts a sizeable portion of this opposition in perspective: it’s about externals such as the clerical collar and the cassock which some people seemingly find repulsive. Indeed, many priests in Belgium and other parts of western Europe now dress in suits and ties, hiding their identity as priests out of a misplaced desire to be ‘just like the laity, and not something special and above them’. A ridiculous reason, since priests, through their ordination and by their specific duties among the people of God are not like the laity. They are not better and more holy, but they are also not the same.

Anyway, on to Dean Van Meerbergen (the photo below obviously dating from before he started wearing his clerical collar):

“I know some of them: they are faithful priests. Oh yes, they wear a collar. And sometimes a cassock. And? Since a year, I’ve also been wearing a clerical collar. I have lost some friends. They removed me from their Facebook and for the first time they didn’t give me a call on my birthday. Apparently that clerical collar is something repulsive. For years I believed that priestly garments would alienate you from people. That it blew up bridges. I do wear it now. And it doesn’t simply make me a better priest. It doesn’t give me more holiness. And it doesn’t make my duties as dean and parish priest any easier. But I feel more connected to the world church. And yes, the unwanted priests are loyal to the pope and the bishops. And also to their flock. I wear a collar. Some people have abandoned me. But yet: I still try to be attentive to the entire flock. The stubborn sheep that stay behind or those that walk ahead. And those with spots on their skin. The sheep with mange and the outcast sheep.

The priests from the Netherlands are welcome and we should work with them in collegiality. And they with us. Didn’t St. Paul once say, “We shouldn’t say: we are of Cephas, we are of Paul or of Apollos… No: we are of Christ.” They may come… why don’t we close ranks? In great respect for each other. Those with a collar and those without. Church in Flanders, let’s build together the Church of Christ for the people. Let’s exclude no one. But let’s be loyal to pope and bishops.

I have the brave dream of hoping that one day I’ll get a priest from India or South America, from Japan or eastern Europe in the deanery. Their faith will support me. I would love it if some day in Diest we’ll be host to a group of religious from faraway… It will only enrich our faith.

Why be afraid? Why so smug and boastful about ‘our’ self-created vision of Church? Proclaiming Christ is the ultimate task. Andy Penne and the others: come. Come proclaim who Christ is. Lead us in the sacraments… And those with a collar and those without. Men and women in the Church, we are all members of the Body of Christ which is the Church… I a increasingly convinced that the archbishop has chosen the right path.”

The transformation of the world – the pope on Corpus Christi

Without illusions, without ideological utopias, we walk the streets of the world, bringing within us the Body of the Lord, like the Virgin Mary in the mystery of the Visitation. With the humble awareness that we are simple grains of wheat, we cherish the firm conviction that the love of God, incarnate in Christ, is stronger than evil, violence and death. We know that God is preparing for all people new heavens and new earth where peace and justice prevail — and by faith we glimpse the new world, that is our true home. Also this evening as the sun sets on our beloved city of Rome, we set out again on this path: With us is Jesus in the Eucharist, the Risen One, who said, “I am with you always, until the end of world” (Mt 28:20).

In lieu of my hearing a proper homily for today’s transferred feast of Corpus Christi, I present the pope’s homily, given on the feast’s actual date of last Thursday. Also in Dutch.

Photo credit: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Prayers for the pope: the Dutch contribution

Pope Benedict during the Corpus Christi celebrations in Rome, yesterday

As mentioned earlier here, Cardinal Piacenza has written to the bishops of the world with the request that they organise 60 hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, for the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s ordination to priest, five days from today. A number of Dutch dioceses have responded positively and announced various prayer vents and moments. An overview.

The Archdiocese of Utrecht announces various initiatives in its three vicariates, most of them by religious orders. The 60 hours are easily reached, and the Community of St. John at the church of St. Gerard Majella in Utrecht is the greatest contributor with the better of 40 hours of Adoration offered. The ‘pink’ Sisters of the Cenacle, also in Utrecht, will pray for the pope from Corpus Christi to the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. The Basilica of St. Lambert in Hengelo and the church of St. Martin in Arnhem also contribute. In Wageningen, there will be two all-night vigils per week. The link above also features an extensive list of other initiatives.

The Diocese of Roermond has created a rotating schedule for all the diocese’s fourteen deaneries. Every day, a different one will hold several hours of Adoration.

The Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch mentions Adoration in several major towns, as well as at the cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, where the 60 hours will be concluded on 4 July, during the annual day for priests.

In the Diocese of Breda Adoration will take place in the Community of Chemin Neuf in Oosterhout, the cathedral of St. Anthony, the Bovendonk seminary and the seminarians’ St. Anthony House.

The Diocese of Rotterdam, then, the Blessed Sacrament has been exposed every day of this week for Adoration, between the morning Mass of 9:30 until 22:30. The local parish as well as various international parishes in Rotterdam joined in this Adoration.

Five out of the seven dioceses in the Netherlands responded well to Cardinal’s request. It must be said that these are the initiatives that have been publicly announced. There are bound to be more which are limited to local faith communities, prayer groups and parishes. The involvement of religious communities, especially in Utrecht, but also in Roermond, is encouraging. Their efforts, especially those of young groups such as the Community of St. John, are often overlooked, but they play a very important part in the communication and witness of faith, especially among young people.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito

A deacon and a bishop line up for a procession…

Just for a laugh, recently-ordained Deacon Pascal Huiting and Bishop Gerard de Korte at the start of the procession to the chapel of St. Boniface, at this year’s St. Boniface Day in Dokkum.

Despite the rain, it seems that a good time was had by at least two people. More photos, showing impressions of the procession,  the address by Fr. Antoine Bodar, the workshops and the bishop blessing people and things are available here.

Photo credit: Marlies Bosch

The other bishops

“The main point we must consider is that a bishop isn’t just a bishop on his own. He is a bishop of a Church and that Church must be somewhere.  In ancient times there were very many more dioceses, which were effectively swept away either by invasion of Muslims or the erosion of demographics, etc.  In more modern times, in the “propaganda” countries, Sees were sometimes established, but the town lost importance for one reason or another and it became impractical to maintain the see there.”

Words from Father Z in this blog post, in which he answers a question about titular dioceses and the rights that bishops may or may not have in them. It prompted me to take a look at the titular sees in my neck of the woods, continental north western Europe. In nine countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden), it turns out, there are only seven of those. Compared to southern Europe, north Africa and the Middle East, that is very few indeed, but it does allow for an easy overview of which titular sees they are and who is appointed to them. In other words, who are the other bishops in these countries*?

Let’s take an alphabetical look.

Bishop Budzik

We start way up north, in Iceland, with the titular see of Hólar. Currently all of Iceland is part of the Diocese of Reykjavík, but in the twelfth century there were two others, once of which was Hólar. It was suppressed in 1550, after which the island fell under various ecclesiastical jurisdictions. The village of Hólar lies on Iceland’s northern coast and nowadays is home to  some 100 people. In the past it was the heart of Iceland’s Catholicism and a major centre of learning. Today, it is the titular see of Bishop Stanisław Budzik, auxiliary bishop of the Polish diocese of Tarnów.

Next is one of the two titular sees located in Belgium. Ieper (in Dutch) or Ypres (in French) was one of the dioceses established in answer to the Reformation in the Low Countries. Unlike the dioceses further north, it existed for a fair amount of time. It wasn’t until 1801, when it was suppressed to become part of the Diocese of Gent. The establishment of the diocese reflected its importance as a commercial trading city and also its origins as a French enclave in the Holy Roman Empire. Its current titular bishop is one of the three new auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, Msgr. Jean Kockerols.

Not far from there lies the third see on our list, and the only Dutch titular see: Maastricht. It can trace its origins to the first arrival of Christianity in the Netherlands. It was created in 530 from the Diocese of Tongeren and Maastricht and survived for almost two centuries. In 720 it was incorporated into the powerful Diocese of Liège, an indication that the centre of Catholic gravity in that area had moved south. Bishop Marco Pérez Caicedo is the titular bishop of Maastricht. In daily life he is one of the auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Guayaquil in Ecuador.

Bishop Sudar

From Maastricht we go back to Scandinavia, to Norway where, in 1070, a Diocese of Selja was established. Also know as Selia, the titular see is based on a tiny island near the city of Bergen and is the predecessor of the Diocese of Bergen. In fact, it was named so only 10 years after its establishment, and survived until the Reformation. It was suppressed in 1537. The current titular bishop is Auxiliary Bishop Pero Sudar of Vrhbosna in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Then back to Belgium it is, to the ancient titular see of Tongeren or Tongres. This is the oldest diocese in the Low Countries, established in 344 from Cologne. From here, the Diocese of Maastricht was established in 530, the same year that saw the end of Tongeren as a diocese. Later, it was one of the seeds for the powerful prince-bishopric of Liège. Like Belgium’s other titular see, a Belgian bishop holds it. He is Msgr. Pierre Warin, auxiliary of the nearby Diocese of Namur.

That leaves only two titular dioceses on our list, and both are currently vacant. The first is Chiemsee in Germany, that country’s only titular see. It’s been vacant for a long time: it’s last titular bishop was Bishop Sigmund Christoph, Count of Waldburg-Zeil-Trauchburg. His tenure ended in 1808.

The last diocese on our last takes us back to our starting point, Iceland. When Hólar was an important centre in the north, its equivalent in the south was the Diocese of Skálholt. It’s history is very similar to that of Hólar, although it is a few years older. It is vacant, but it hasn’t been for as long as Chiemsee. It’s last titular bishop died in 2008, and he was Dutch: Bishop Alphons Castermans, auxiliary of Roermond.

Skálholt today

*Not that these bishops have any rights or duties in their titular sees, as Father Z explains in the aforementioned post.

“The night is not dark for me” – Bishop van Luyn’s last homily

Related to the previous post (and originally part of it), about the retirement of Bishop Ad van Luyn as chief shepherd of the see of Rotterdam as well as the presidency of the Dutch Bishops’ Conference and the COMECE, I now have available a translation of the homily he delivered during his farewell Mass on 18 June. The emeritus bishop discusses the central position of Christ in our faith and His way as the way of love. There are many references to papal encyclicals and Council documents, as well as some personal reflections on the reasoning behind his choice of motto and coat of arms. It’s an interesting read.

For completeness’ sake, here follow the two Scripture readings read in the Mass and referred to by the bishop in his homily:

From the Second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy (1:6-14):

That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift of God that you possess through the laying on of my hands. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power and love and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to our Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but share in my hardships for the sake of the gospel, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy — not because of anything we ourselves had done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time, but it has been revealed only by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus. He has abolished death, and he has brought to light immortality and life through the gospel, in whose service I have been made herald, apostle and teacher. That is why I am experiencing my present sufferings; but I am not ashamed, because I know in whom I have put my trust, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to safeguard until that Day what I have entrusted to him. Keep as your pattern the sound teaching you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. With the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, look after that precious thing given in trust.

From the Gospel according to John (15:9-17)

I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. My command to you is to love one another.

Bishop van Luyn's coat of arms with the symbols of the four Evangelists