Mission country Netherlands

“In 1926 – when in Maarn the first St. Theresia church arose – the Netherlands was still a country that that produced many missionaries. Now we have become a mission country ourselves. All the more do we need Christians, especially priests, deacons and religious, who manage to touch many with the Gospel of Christ through the love of Christ in their hearts.”

The concluding words from the homily that Bishop Herman Woorts, auxiliary of Utrecht, gave on Saturday for seminarians, pastoral workers, staff and members of the prayer group of Ariëns Institute. This follows upon similar words from Bishop Luc Van Looy of Ghent, given in an interview last week. He said that “Flanders is mission territory, indeed”.

In Tirana, Albania, members of the European Bishops’ Conferences, among them our own Archbishop Wim Eijk, have been meeting with each other and Archbishop Fisichella, head of the new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, to speak about this very issue. I suspect we’ll continue to see this topic appear time and again for the foreseeable future. It certainly seems to be a spear point of this pontificate.

Bishop Mutsaerts vs San Salvator

The bishop of ‘s Hertogenbosch is once again planning to send out one of his auxiliaries to put out a bush fire in his diocese. He has appointed Bishop Rob Mutsaerts as temporary pastor to the San Salvator parish in ‘s Hertogenbosch. This parish has been without its own priest for a number of years and is said to have become a hotbed of DIY liturgy and liberal thought in frank opposition to bishop and Church. In 2009, after a homosexual ‘marriage’ was ‘blessed’ at the an Salvator, Msgr. Mutsaerts devoted a blog post to this parish, writing:

“I would not begrudge the parishioners a priest who is simply Catholic and who does not let himself be terrorised by the pastoral team which claims to be open to a church from below and wishes to do justice to the feelings of people, but in the meantime prove to be true dictators when people with true Catholic wishes show up. A normal familiar Requiem Mass is no an option. Neither is a Mass out of thanksgiving according to the normal liturgical books (only by exception and with great reluctance). A normal Sunday Mass? At San Salvator they have very extraordinary customs on Sunday, but it has nothing to do with a normal recognisable Catholic Mass. For them it is a sport to explain that there is much flawed in what pope and bishops propagate. In Orthen, the windows of the church have indeed been opened wide, with the result that there is a terrible draft and everyone has fallen ill. As a result of the draft all the familiar furnishings at least have been blown out of the church, leaving the average parishioner in the cold.”

San Salvator - church with an interesting future?

After words like these it is perhaps no surprise that the parish council of the San Salvator have told the diocese that they will not be accepting Bishop Mutsaerts as their new pastor. But they do need a proper priest, it seems. If things have gotten this bad in 2009 (when the bishop wrote the above words), things will likely not have improved now. And in such situations, it is perhaps prudent to call things by their name. What is abundantly clear, at least, is that the parish council does not know where their right and duties lie.

It’s always sad to see when people with responsibilities in a parish (consciously or not) place their own vaguely-described feelings and interests before that of the people and the Church. It’s an upside-down world: Not our Lord comes to us, we create our own bridges to Him. The Church and all that is part of her are not our own creations to do with as we wish. If we do change the liturgy and distance ourselves from the diocese, then the name ‘Catholic’ becomes an empty word.

I hope Bishop Mutsaerts can turn things around for the better, and the faithful of San Salvator return to full communion with the Church, in both word and action.