Happy birthday to Bishop Bär

Happy birthday to Bishop Ronald Philippe Bär, who today marks his 85th birthday.

 Bär

Bishop Bär was born in Manado, in the Dutch Indies, and became a Benedictine priest, and later auxiliary bishop and bishop of the Diocese of Rotterdam, as well as bishop of the Military Ordinariate. He resigned in 1993.

At welcoming ceremony, Dutch pilgrim to meet the Pope

ANNEMARIE SCHEERBOOM

For Dutch pilgrim Annemarie Scheerboom, 21, World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro will be even more special than it already is. As part of the ceremony that will welcome Pope Francis into the city on Thursday, Annemarie has been chosen to represent the European pilgrims and will address the Holy Father in both Dutch and English.

Annemarie also attended the World Youth Days in Sydney (2008) and Madrid (2011). At the latter event, she was part of the Archdiocese of Utrecht’s group that also included me. In daily life, she studies biology, is active in the Sant’Egidio community, edits a Catholic youth magazine and works at a restaurant for the homeless. She considers Pope Francis a “great source of inspiration”.

What Annemarie will tell the Pope is unknown at this time, although an interview with her will be put online at the Dutch World Youth Day portal www.wjd.nl tonight.

Photo credit: Ramon Mangold for Jong Katholiek/RKK

Cardinal watch: Cardinal Pimenta passes away

Pimenta0001

On Friday, Simon Ignatius Cardinal Pimenta passed away. The Indian prelate was 93 and lived at the Clergy Home for retired priest in Mumbai.

Born in 1920, Simon Pimenta attended St. Pius X seminary and also studied pedagogy and mathematics at Bombay State University. In 1949 he was ordained for the Archdiocese of Bombay. As a priest he assisted in parishes and also worked at the local Curia.

In 1954, Father Pimenta graduated in Canon Law from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. Back in Bombay, he continued assisting in parishes, in addition to working as secretary to the archbishop, Valerian Cardinal Gracias. He was also vice-chancellor and defender of the bond. From 1959 to 1960, Fr. Pimenta was also adminstrator of the Cathedral of the Holy Name. In following years, he was episcopal vicar for the formation of young priests and for the liturgy, a topic he also taught at the seminary. He would eventually become seminary rector.

In 1971, Fr. Pimenta was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Bombay, with the titular see of Bocconia. Cardinal Gracias consecrated him, with Bishop Longinus Pereira, auxiliary of Bombay, and Bishop William Gomes, ordinary of Poona, serving as co-consecrators. In 1977, he was appointed to succeed Cardinal Gracias, and became Coadjutor Archbishop of Bombay. He took over as Metropolitan Archbishop in 1978.

Archbishop Pimenta would remain as Bombay’s shepherd for 18 years, until his retirement in 1996. In 1988, he was created a cardinal and given the title church of  Santa Maria “Regina Mundi” a Torre Spaccata. He was president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India from 1982 to 1988 and from 1994 to 1996.

202 cardinals remain in the College of Cardinals, with 112 of them being electors.

In Liège, a new “watchman” over the faithful

delvilleOn Sunday, Jean-Pierre Delville was consecrated as the 92nd Bishop of the Diocese of Liège. Although the consecration of a new bishop in the Church of northwestern Europe is always and clearly a major event in the diocese of question, media coverage, also by the new bishop’s own diocese, has often been mediocre at best. Not so in Liège.

A WordPress blog created and maintained by the diocesan press office collects newspaper clippings, photographs and reports, as well as the standard official information released to the press beforehand, and does so very enthusiastically. An example for other dioceses, here and abroad.

I have created a translation of Archbishop Léonard’s homily. Since French is not a language I have mastered much, the translation is far from perfect. Anyone who wants to tackle the two lines I have left untranslated is very welcome to do so.

Bishop Delville was consecrated by Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard (Mechelen-Brussels), with Bishops Aloys Jousten (em. Liège) and Johan Bonny (Antwerp) and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia (Pontifical Council for the Family) and Giacinto Berloco (Nuncio to Belgium) serving as co-consecrators.

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^Bishop Delville with his predecessor, Bishop Aloys Jousten.

Photo credit: Lothar Klinges

For 300 Dutch pilgrims, WYD 2013 begins

As young Catholics gather in the chapel of Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam, Bishop Everard de Jong offers a blessing for their journey to South America.

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Some 300 young Dutch Catholics are travelling to destinations in Suriname and Brazil before joining hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in Rio to partake in the 2013 edition of World Youth Day, which will take place from 23 to 28 July.

Travelling with the pilgrims are Bishop Hans van den Hende, who will join the group heading for Suriname, and Bishop de Jong, who will be with the group in Almenara. In Rio, they will be joined by Bishops Rob Mutsaerts and Jan Hendriks. The latter three will be the three Dutch bishops holding catechesis talks during the days in Rio.

The Cardijn Cause

cardijnIn recent weeks, the dean of Diest in the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, Father Felix Van Meerbergen, has been using his social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook to promote the cause of Josef-Léon Cardinal Cardijn. As the founder of the International Coordination of Young Christian Workers, he was particularly concerned with the formation and evangelisation of labourers, inspired by Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum from 1891, as well as people around him. His approach and inspiration continues in various lay movements around the world, most notably Catholic Action.

Fr. Van Meerbergen shares a prayer (which I translated in Dutch here) for Cardinal Cardijn’s cause:

Heavenly Father, you are the source of every good thing that comes unto us. We are thankful to you for the gift of Joseph Cardinal Cardijn to the world at large.

Cardinal Cardijn was a champion of workers who are co-labourers with you in re-creating a new world where love, equality and justice will reign in the spirit. He toiled all his life for the empowerment of the workers so that they may move from being powerless to be powerful with your divine help.

We, the present and former members of the Cardijn movements and those who have accepted or having known Cardijn’s spirituality, vision and SEE-JUDGE-ACT methodology seek your divine intervention to declare the apostle of the workers a saint of the Holy Mother the Church.

This we ask you through Christ our Lord,

Amen.

Joseph-Léon Cardijn was born in 1882, in Schaerbeek near Brussels. In 1906, he was ordained a priest and decided to devote his life to the evangelisation of the working classes. He travelled abroad and developed his ideas in earnest while a parish priest in Laeken. Following World War I, during which he was imprisoned twice, he left Laeken in 1919 and started working fulltime for the workers. He established what would become the Young Catholic Workers movement in 1919, and saw it unofficially recognised in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. In 1967, Father Cardijn’s movement was active in 69 countries and had 2 million members. Pope Paul VI recognised this success in 1965 by creating him a cardinal. Cardinal Cardijn became Cardinal-Deacon of San Michele Arcangelo.

Cardinal Cardijn passed away in 1967 and his funeral Mass was attended by the then-Prince Albert, now King Albert II. In 2005, Belgian television viewers voted Cardinal Cardijn to number 23 in the Greatest Belgian vote.

Fr. Van Meerbergen is not only promoting the cause of Cardinal Cardijn, but also invites people to submit information about him, especially those who may have known the late cardinal. Her may be contacted via the social media channels mentioned above.

Full disclosure – UN demanding Church come clean

un%20logoUpon reading this article, about the UN demanding a full disclosure of the Vatican files on sexual abuse committed by clergy and in institutions run by the Church, which they claim occurred “on an unbelievable scale”, I can’t help but wonder who they think they are. The tone of the article, but seemingly also of the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child, is extremely tendentious, taking for a fact that the level of sexual abuse was many times higher in the Church than anywhere else, and that there exists a systematic cover-up of these cases. The measures taken by the Holy See under Pope Benedict XVI, and by individual bishops’ conferences and religious bodies in many parts of the world (although, admittedly, not everywhere) are conveniently ignored.

There is no vast repository of files, somewhere in a vault in the Vatican. There are policies, and the UN does not need any disclosure to find those out. If they want to know about individual cases, they should contact Church entities on a much lower level, where much of the groundwork is and will be done. I am sure the Holy See will be happy to do what is needed, but many may be disappointed by the relative lack of shocking revelations, especially when held up against the numbers from other institutions and member nations.

Much has changed for the better, although much more still needs to change. The UN would do better in demanding full disclosure from all its member nations and the institutions she herself runs, instead of focussing on a single one. That is bad policy and popular opinion driving actions of an institution which should be above that to serve the world.

The article lauds Pope Francis for taking steps to combat corruption and says he should do the same with regards to sexual abuse. Pope Benedict took the first steps in that tough line, but is still almost universally reviled for apparently not doing so. I somehow don’t think that Pope Francis’ actions against sexual abuse, by themselves, will do much to make him popular. The world and popular opinion is much too simple for that: he seems a nice chap, and that makes him popular. His policies won’t make much of a difference for most.

Am I saying that the UN has no right to know? Well, in a sense. It has the right to know, but no more than anyone else has. Information should not be shared just because the UN says so, but because it is the right thing to do and the people should know. The UN will say that is the same thing. Many clearer minds will say it is not.