In the presence of royalty, a bishop says goodbye

Bishop van Luyn at the start of his final Mass as ordinary of Rotterdam.

In the presence of HRH Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima, hundreds of faithful, and dozens of priests and bishops, Bishop Adrianus van Luyn bade farewell to the diocese which he headed for more than 17 years. The retiring bishop did so with a Mass at the cathedral of Sts. Lawrence and Elisabeth in Rotterdam. The crown prince and his wife, who reside within the Diocese of Rotterdam, were not the only dignitaries present today. The Queen’s Commissioner for Zuid-Holland, Mr. Jan Franssen, mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, former Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers and Secretary for the Interior Piet Hein Donner were also in attendance – an indication of the connections that Bishop van Luyn made in this most urbanised of Dutch dioceses.

The emeritus bishop’s homily, katholieknederland.nl reports, extensively referred to papal encyclicals and his motto: Collabora Evangelio, which comes from the Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy: “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” (1:8). He also made mention several times of the witness of Rotterdam’s patron, Saint Lawrence.

I hope to be able to read and translate the homily for this blog, but I have as yet been unable to find it online.

After this official farewell, Bishop van Luyn literally leaves Rotterdam behind him. He will be relocating to a Salesian centre in Bonn, Germany, where he is to continue his work with young people, which played such a prominent part in his time in Rotterdam, especially the homeless. Msgr. van Luyn will stay on as president of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, until the end of March 2012. Likewise, he will also remain chairman of the Dutch Bishop’s Conference until after the installation of his successor, Msgr. van den Hende, as bishop of Rotterdam, when the bishops will elect a new chairman.

With vicar general, Fr. Dick Verbakel, at his side, Bishop van Luyn shakes hands with HRH Princess Máxima. The crown prince at the far left.

Photo credit: Christian van der Heijden

A new bishop in the east

Görlitz amid the other German dioceses

The east of this blog’s area of interest, that is.

Tucked away in the triangle formed by Germany’s borders with Poland and the Czech Republic is an interesting remnant of a once powerful ecclesiastical jurisdiction – or one of the remnants, one should say. The Diocese of Görlitz was created in 1972 as an apostolic administration to conform with the post-war borders in east and central Europe. Before 1972, this was part of the great Archdiocese of Breslau, stretching across parts of modern Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic, and split in separate parts following the Allies’ divisions of the Third Reich.

Now one of the smallest German dioceses with a mere 30,000 Catholic faithful, Görlitz runs the risk of being something of a lost child in the Church of the west. But good things have a tendency to be noticed, as became clear in July 2010, when Görlitz’s bishop, Msgr. Konrad Zdarsa, was sent to Augsburg, where his predecessor, Bishop Mixa, had just left amid much rumours and confusion. Bishop Zdarsa had been occupying the see of Görlitz for only three years when he was reassigned, so evidently  he must have made good in the small diocese. But his departure did leave the good people of eastern Saxony and southern Brandenburg without a bishop.

Bishop-elect Wolfgang Ipolt

Now, almost exactly a year later, a clergyman from Erfurt is sent east  become a shepherd. Msgr. Wolfgang Ipolt is 57 and becomes the fourth bishop of Görlitz, with its 60-some priests, and 80-some religious. Bishop-elect Ipolt was until now the rector of the interdiocesan seminary in Erfurt, which also serves Berlin, Dresden-Meiβen, Magdeburg and Görlitz, as well as students from Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic. As rector of such a seminary, Msgr. Ipolt may be expected to have a similarly international outlook, especially eastward towards the great Catholic nations of Poland and Lithuania, but also to the fledgling Church communities in the former German Democratic Republic – communist East Germany. The new bishop, then, reflects the identity of the diocese: situated between past and present – the strong Catholic history of past Breslau and the future of the new dioceses in eastern Germany.

With this appointment, only Berlin remains vacant in Germany.

Congratulations, Deacon Patrick!

The title of this post is a little bit premature, but some three hours from now, a friend of mine will be ordained to the diaconate. Sadly, I am unable to be present at the Mass in the cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in ‘s Hertogenbosch, but I do plan to be present at his ordination to the priesthood some time next year.

So for now i’ll limit myself to some heartfelt congratulations to soon-to-be-Deacon Patrick!

As a man who knows both forms of the Latin rite well, with a heart for the faith and the Catholic life, the new deacon will be a great asset to the parish of St. John the Evangelist.

Similar congratulations also go out to Deacons Maciej Sendecki and Eugène Dassen, who will be ordained to the priesthood of Haarlem-Amsterdam and Roermond, respectively, today.