2016, a look back

Another year nears its end, the seventh of this blog, which is always a good opportunity to look back, especially at what has appeared here in the blog over the course of 2016. I have grouped things loosely in various categories, so as to give an impression of cohesion.

francisPope Francis at work

In Rome, and despite turning 80 this year, Pope Francis kept up the pace, introducing several changes, expected and unexpected. First, in January, he issued a decree which opened the rite of foot washing on Maundy Thursday also for women. I reflected on it here.

On Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father sent out 1,000 missionaries of mercy, among them 13 Dutch priests, as part of the ongoing Holy Year of Mercy.

Pope Francis commented on the question of female deacons, which led to much debate, at least in Catholic social media. I also shared my thoughts.

A smaller debate revolved around an instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved by the Pope, about Christian burial.

The reform of the Curia also continued, first with the creation of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life and the appoinment of Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell as its first prefect; and then with the creation of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, for which the Pope picked Cardinal Peter Turkson as head.

Cardinals of St. LouisPope Francis also added to the College of Cardinals, as he called his third consistory, choosing seventeen new cardinals from all over the world.

Towards the end of the year, and following the end of the Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter about the absolution from the sin of abortion, a faculty now extended to all priests.

The Pope abroad

Pope Francis made several visits abroad this year. To Cuba and Mexico, to Greece, to Armenia, to Poland, to Georgia and Azerbaijan, but the last one received the most attention here. For two days, Pope Francis put ecumenism in the spotlight during his visit to Sweden. Announced in January as a one-day visit, a second day was added in June. In October, the Nordic bishops previewed the visit in a pastoral letter, which I published in English.

The abuse crisis

Still here, and unlikely to go completely away in the next years or decades, the abuse crisis continues to haunt the Church. in February there were shocked reactions to comments made by a prelate during a conference on how bishops should handle abuse allegations. I tried to add some context here. In the Netherlands there was indignation when it became clear that a significant number of abuse cases settled out of court included a secrecy clause, preventing victims from speaking negatively about the Church institutions under whose care they suffered abuse. In April, the annual statistics of abuse cases processed and compensation paid out were released.

Amoris laetitia

In April Amoris laetitia was released, the Post-Synodal Exhortation that was the fruit of the two Synod of Bishops assemblies on the family. Cardinal Eijk, the Dutch delegate to the assemblies, offered his initial thoughts about the document, followed by many other bishops.

4cardinalsWhile the document was broadly lauded, an ambuguous footnote led to much discussion. In November, four cardinals publised a list of dubia they presented to the Pope, but which received no answer. Citing the clear uncertainty about certain parts of Amoris laetitia, visible in the wide range of conclusions drawn, the cardinals respectfully asked for clarification, which they will most likely not be getting, at least not in the standard way.

The local churches

There were many more and varied events in local churches in the Netherlands and beyond. Theirs is a very general category, aiming to showcase some of the more important and interesting developments in 2016.

In January, the Belgian bishops elected then-Archbishop Jozef De Kesel as their new president. At the same time, Cardinal Wim Eijk announced that he would not be available for a second term as president of the Dutch Bishops’ Conference. In June, Bishop Hans van den Hende was chosen to succeed him.

bisschop HurkmansBishop Antoon Hurkmans retired as Bishop of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and in January he sent his final message to the faithful of his diocese, asking for unity with the new bishop. In April, rumours started floating that the bishops had suggested Bishop Hurkmans as new rector of the Church of the Frisians in Rome.

The Dioceses of Rotterdam and Groningen-Leeuwarden celebrated the 60th anniversary of their establishment.

On Schiermonnikoog, the Cistercian monks, formerly of Sion Abbey, found a location for their new monastery.

The Dutch and Belgian bishops announced a new translation of the Lord’s Prayera new translation of the Lord’s Prayer, to be introduced on the first Sunday of Advent.

church-498525_960_720A photograph of the cathedral of Groningen-Leeuwarden started appearing across the globe as a stock photo in articles about the Catholic Church. It continues to do so, as I saw it appear, some time last week, in an advert for a concert by a Dutch singer.

Speaking in Lourdes in May, Roermond’s Bishop Frans Wiertz spoke open-heartedly about his deteriorating Eyesight.

In June, Fr. Hermann Scheipers passed away. The 102-year-old priest was the last survivor of Dachau concentration camp’s priest barracks.

In that same month, the nestor of the Dutch bishops marked the 75th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Bishop Huub Ernst is 99 and currently the sixth-oldest bishop in the world.

In Belgium, the new Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels closed down the Fraternity of the Holy Apostles, erected by his predecessor, to the surprise of many.

Bishop Patrick Hoogmartens of Hasselt received a personal message and blessing from Pope Francis on the occasion of the 18th Coronation Feasts held in Hasselt in the summer.

willibrordprocessie%202014%2006%20img_9175The annual procession in honour of St. Willibrord in Utrecht was criticised this year after the archbishop chose to limit its ecumenical aspect. I shared some thoughts here.

In Norway, Trondheim completed and consecrated a new cathedral. English Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor was sent to represent the Holy Father at the event.

The retired archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, André-Joseph Léonard, was heard from again when a new book featured his thoughts about never having been made a cardinal, unlike his immediate predecessors and, it turned out at about the time of the book’s publication, is successor.

At the end of the year, Berlin was hit by terrorism as a truck plowed through a Christmas market, killing 12 and wounding numerous others. Archbishop Heiner Koch offered a poetic reflection.

The Dutch Church abroad

In foreign media, the Catholic Church in the Netherlands also made a few headlines.

naamloosIn September, Cardinal Eijk was invited to speak at the annual assembly of the Canadian bishops, sharing his experiences and thoughts concerning the legalisation of assisted suicide. In the wake of that meeting, he also floated the idea that the Pope could write an encyclical on the errors of gender ideology.

in Rome, 2,000 Dutch pilgrims were met by Pope Francis, who spoke to them about being channels of mercy.

The new Dutch translation of the Our Father also sparked fears in some quarters that the bishops were leading everyone into heresy, leading to many faithful revolting against the new text. The truth was somewhat less exciting.

Equally overexcited was the report of empty parishes and starving priests in the Netherlands. I provided some necessary details here.

In Dutch

While my blog is written in English, there have also been three blog posts in Dutch. All three were translations of texts which were especially interesting or important. The first was my translation of the joint declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, an important milestone in ecumenical relations between the Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Churches.

IMG_7842Then there was the headline-making address by Cardinal Robert Sarah at the Sacra Liturgia Conference in London, in which the cardinal invited priests to start celebrating ad orientem again. But the text contained much more than that, and remains well worth reading.

Lastly, I provided translations of all the papal addresses and homilies during the Holy Father’s visit to Sweden. I kept the post at the top of the blog for a while, as a reflection of its importance for Dutch-speaking Christians as well.

A thank you

Twice in 2016 I asked my readers to contribute financially to the blog. In both instances several of you came through, using the PayPal button in the sidebar to donate. My gratitude to you remains.

2016 in appointments

Obituary

As every year, there is also death. Notewrothy this year were the following:

  • 26 March: Bishop Andreas Sol, 100, Bishop emeritus of Amboina.
  • 31 March: Georges-Marie-Martin Cardinal Cottier, 93, Cardinal-Priest of Santi Domenico e Sisto, Pro-Theologian emeritus of the Prefecture of the Papal Household.
  • 16 May: Giovanni Cardinal Coppa, 90, Cardinal-Deacon of San Lino, Apostolic Nuncio emeritus to the Czech Republic.
  • 26 May: Loris Cardinal Capovilla, 100, Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Archbishop-Prelate emeritus of Loreto.
  • 9 July: Silvano Cardinal Piovanelli, 92, Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria della Grazie a Via Trionfale, Archbishop emeritus of Firenze.
  • 2 August: Franciszek Cardinal Macharski, 89, Cardinal-Priest of San Giovanni a Porta Latina, Archbishop emeritus of Kraków.
  • 18 August: Bishop Jan Van Cauwelaert, 102, Bishop emeritus of Inongo.
  • 13 November: Bishop Aloysius Zichem, 83, Bishop emeritus of Paramaribo.
  • 21 November: Bishop Maximilian Ziegelbauer, 93, Auxiliary Bishop emeritus of Augsburg.
  • 14 December: Paulo Cardinal Arns, Cardinal-Priest of Sant’Antonio da Padova in Via Tuscolana, Archbishop emeritus of São Paulo, Protopriest of the College of Cardinals.

Bishop Ernst marks 75 years of priesthood

2016-06-07%20Breda_MgrErnst_©RamonMangold_WEB01_410

He is the nestor of the Dutch episcopate, and at 99 years of age Msgr. Huub Ernst is the 8th oldest bishop in the world today. Last Tuesday he marked the 75th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, with a solemn Mass in the cathedral of St. Anthony* in Breda, the same church were he offered his first Mass in 1941. As the retired bishop of Breda is confined to a motorised wheelchair, he concelebrated the Mass, which was offered by Breda’s current bishop, Msgr. Jan Liesen. They were joined by Bishop Hans van den Hende, bishop of Breda from 2007 to 2011, as well as the current and retired vicars general of the diocese.

Bishop Ernst was one of two priests ordained by Bishop Petrus Hopmans on 7 June 1941. After two years working in the parish he was called to a life of study, education and management. He was vicar general under Bishop Gerard de Vet (bishop of Breda from 1962 to 1967) and succeeded him upon his untimely death. Bishop Ernst, considered a progressive (but not so much that the liberal 8 May Movement did not succeed in alienating him) but also a wise and well-spoken theologian, would remain in office until 1992, followed by an uncommonly long two and a half years as apostolic administrator, until Martinus Muskens was appointed as his successor in late 1994.

After his retirement, Bishop Ernst remained available for certain important events. Not only did he consecrate Bishop Muskens in 1994, but he was also one of the co-consecrators of Muskens’ successor, Hans van den Hende, in 2006. Bishop Ernst has lived long enough to see three bishops succeed him and survived his immediate successor. In 2007 he condemned the proposal of the Dominicans to have lay people be given the possibility to offer Mass as “incorrect, senseless and not the right solution”. In 2010 he was called to testify in a sexual abuse case, claiming that important information was withheld from him when he was asked to appoint a Salesian priest who would later abuse again, after which Bishop Ernst fired him.

While Bishop Ernst is one of the oldest living bishops, he is even higher on the list of most senior bishops by ordination to the priesthood. Only four living bishops were ordained before Bishop Ernst, and among them is another bishop from the Dutch language area. He is Belgian-born Bishop Jan Van Cauwelaert. Now at the age of 102, this Antwerp-born prelate of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was vicar apostolic and later bishop of Inongo, now in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

About his current life, Bishop Ernst said:

“When I had to end my duties because of my age, I experienced that, while possessing a clear mind, I was definitely losing my physical strength. I concluded from that that my task would now be to stand in my own life for what I looked for in the offices. Experiencing this, I said, “Chaplain again, invisibly present. Without this being expressed amid the others who believe. The images I carry with me from my time in the chaplaincy express the relationship in which we live. It is a life of gratitude.””

*It wasn’t the cathedral back then, although it had been between 1853 and 1876, and has been again since 2001.

Photo credit: Ramon Mangold

Council survivors

For the startof the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI intends to celebrate the opening Mass with the surviving Council fathers. But how many of the bishops who attended the Second Vatican Council are still alive, and, come to think of it, who are they?

With the help of the great resource that is Catholic Hierarchy, I have compiled the following list. The bishops are listed according to their last name. Also included are their function(s) at the time of the Council and their current age.

  • ANGELINI, Fiorenzo: Curial official (now 95)
  • ARINZE, Francis: Coadjutor Bishop of Onitsha (now 79)
  • BANTIGUE Y NATIVIDAD, Pedro: Auxiliary Bishop of Manila (now 92)
  • BETTAZZI, Luigi: Auxiliary Bishop of Bologna (now 88)
  • BLANCHOUD, Moisés Julio: Auxiliary Bishop and later Bishop of Río Cuarto (now 88)
  • BLUYSSEN, Johannes Willem Maria: Auxiliary Bishop of ‘s Hertogenbosch (now 86)
  • BOWERS, Joseph Oliver: Bishop of Accra (now 102)
  • CÁCERES GONZÁLEZ, Roberto Reinaldo:Bishop of Melo (now 91)
  • CALHEIROS NOVAES (DE NOVAIS), Waldyr: Auxiliary Bishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro (now 88)
  • CANESTRI, Giovanni: Auxiliary Bishop of Roma (now 93)
  • CAPUCCI, Hilarion: Auxiliary Bishop of Antiochia (Melkite) (now 90)
  • CAZZARO BERTOLLO, Savino Bernardo Maria: Vicar Apostolic of Aysén (now 87)
  • COELHO, Jaime Luiz: Bishop of Maringá (now 95)
  • CORNEJO RADAVERO, Mario Renato: Auxiliary Bishop of Lima (now 84) (left the Church in 1969)
  • CHARBONNEAU, Paul-Émile: Auxiliary Bishop of Ottawa, later Bishop of Hull (now 90)
  • CH’ENG SHIH-KUANG, Paul: Auxiliary Bishop of Taipei (now 96)
  • CÍRIO, Armando: Bishop of Toledo (now 96)
  • CUNIBERTI, Angelo: Vicar Apostolic of Florencia (now 91)
  • DE ARAÚJO SALES, Eugênio: Auxiliary Bishop and later Apostolic Administrator of Natal, later also Apostolic Adminstrator of São Salvador de Bahia (now 91)
  • DE ROO, Remi Joseph: Bishop of Victoria (now 88)
  • DELLY, Emmanuel III (Emmanuel-Karim): Auxiliary Bishop of Babylon (Chaldean) (now 84)
  • DEMARTEAU, Wilhelmus Joannes (Guillaume Jean): Bishop of Bandjarmasin (now 95)
  • DIAS NOGUEIRA, Eurico: Bishop of Vila Cabral (now 89)
  • DIAZ CUEVA, José Gabriel: Auxiliary Bishop of Guayaquil (now 87)
  • DÍAZ MERCHÁN, Gabino: Bishop of Guadix (now 86)
  • DOSSEH-ANYRON, Robert-Casimir Tonyui Messan: Bishop of Lomé (now 86)
  • DUPONT, Georges-Hilaire: Bishop of Pala (now 92)
  • FERNANDES DE ARAÚJO, Serafim: Auxiliary Bishop of Belo Horizonte (now 87)
  • GARAVITO JIMÉNEZ, Gregorio: Auxiliary Bishop of Villavicencio (now 93)
  • GARAYGORDÓBIL BERRIZBEITIA, Victor: Prelate of Los Ríos (now 96)
  • GARCIA AYALA, José de Jesús: Auxiliary Bishop of Campeche (now 102)
  • HADDAD, Grégoire: Auxiliary Bishop of Beirut and Jbeil (Melkite) (now 87)
  • HAYES, James Martin: Auxiliary Bishop of Halifax (now 88)
  • HERRERA RIERA, Eduardo: Auxiliary Bishop of Cumaná (now 84)
  • HUNTHAUSEN, Raymond Gerhardt: Bishop of Helena (now 90)
  • JOBST, John: Vicar Apostolic of Kimberley in Western Australia (now 92)
  • LANDRIAULT, Jacques: Auxiliary Bishop of Alexandria in Ontario, later Bishop of Hearst (now 90)
  • LEONARDO, Felice: Bishop of Telese o Cerreto Sannita (now 97)
  • LEULIET, Géry-Jacques-Charles: Bishop of Amiens (now 102)
  • LIMA DOS SANTOS, Caetano Antônio: Bishop if Ilhéus (now 95) (renounced the priesthood in 1970)
  • LIRA, Pedro Reginaldo: Bishop of San Francisco (now 96)
  • LOURDUSAMY, Duraisamy Simon: Auxiliary Bishop of Bangalore, later Coadjutor Archbishop of Bangalore (now 88)
  • MALBOIS, Albert-Georges-Yves: Auxiliary Bishop of Versailles (now 96)
  • MATHIAS, Alphonsus: Bishop of Chikmagalur (now 84)
  • MCKEON, Myles: Auxiliary Bishop of Perth (now 93)
  • MCNAUGHTON, William John: Bishop of Incheon (now 85)
  • NGANGA A NDZANDO, Louis: Auxiliary Bishop of Lisala, later Bishop of Lisala (now 89)
  • NICOLOSI, Salvatore: Bishop of Lipari (now 90)
  • NKALANGA, Placidus Gervasius: Auxiliary Bishop of Bukoba (now 93)
  • NOËL, Laurent: Auxiliary Bishop of Québec (now 92)
  • ODONGO, James: Auxiliary Bishop of Tororo (now 81)
  • PADILLA LOZANO, José Guadalupe: Bishop of Veracruz (now 91)
  • PEARCE, George Hamilton: Vicar Apostolic of Archipelago of the Navigators (now 91)
  • PIMIENTO RODRIGUEZ, José de Jesús: Bishop of Montería, later of Garzón-Neiva (now 93)
  • PIÑERA CARVALLO, Bernardino: Bishop of Temuco (now 96)
  • PIRES, José Maria: Bishop of Aracuaí, later Archbishop of Paraíba (now 93)
  • PLOURDE, Joseph-Aurèle: Auxiliary Bishop of Alexandria in Ontario (now 97)
  • QUINTERO ARCE, Carlos: Bishop of Ciudad Valles (now 92)
  • RAMALHO DE ALARCÓN SANTIAGO, José Mauro: Bishop of Iguatú (now 87)
  • RAMÍREZ SALAVERRÍA, Antonio José: Bishop of Maturín (now 94)
  • RAMOUSSE, Yves-Georges-René: Vicar Apostolic of Phnom-Penh (now 84)
  • RIBEIRO DE OLIVEIRA, Antônio: Auxiliary Bishop of Goiânia (now 86)
  • SAHAGÚN DE LA PARRA, José de Jesús: Bishop of Tula (now 90)
  • SANA, André: Bishop of Aqra (Chaldean) (now 91)
  • SAPELAK, Andrés: Auxiliary Bishop of the Faithful of the Eastern Rites of Argentina (now 92)
  • SEPÚLVEDA RUIZ-VELASCO, José Trinidad: Bishop of Tuxtla Gutiérrez (now 91)
  • SFEIR, Nasrallah Pierre: Auxiliary Bishop of Antiochia (Maronite) (now 92)
  • SOL, Andreas Peter Cornelius: Coadjutor Bishop of Amboina, later Bishop of Amboina (now 96)
  • SZYMANSKI RAMÍREZ, Arturo Antonio: Coadjutor Bishop and later Bishop of San Andrés Tuxtla (now 90)
  • TATO LOSADA, Eloy: Vicar Apostolic of San Jorge (now 88)
  • THOHEY MAHN-GABY, Gabriel: Coadjutor Archbishop of Rangoon (now 84)
  • TSIAHOANA, Albert Joseph: Auxiliary Bishop of Diego-Suárez (now 84)
  • VAN CAUWELAERT, Jan: Bishop of Inongo (now 98)
  • VERSTRAETE, Daniel Alphonse Omer: Prefect of Western Transvaal (now 87)
  • VILNET, Jean-Félix-Albert-Marie: Bishop of Saint-Dié (now 90)
  • WARREN, Douglas Joseph: Auxiliary Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes (now 93)
  • YOUN KONG-HI, Victorinus: Bishop of Suwon (now 87)
  • ZARZA BERNAL, Anselmo: Bishop of Linares (now 96)

Two of the names in the list are printed in italics. They indicate the bishops who either renounced their priesthood or left the Church altogether, sometime after the Council. So, while they participated as Council Fathers, we should not expect them to make an appearance in Rome in October.

Many others may also not be able to make it, considering their advanced age. The youngest, Cardinal Arinze, is 79, many are in their in 80s and even 90s, and there are even three centenarians. Among those staying at home, I expect, is Bishop Bluyssen, the only living Dutch bishop who attended the Council – although, as the story goes, he was often left at home “to mind the store” as Bishop Bekkers attended the sessions in Rome.

It will be interesting to see at least some of the former movers and shakers of the Church launch a new effort of evangelisation and catechesis across the world.