Looking back at the year: 2012 in review

It’s been quite the year for the Church in the world, in the Netherlands and here on the blog. In this post, I want to look back briefly on what has transpired. What happened before will, in many cases, have its effect on what will happen in the coming year.

The variety of events has been great, but if we had to characterise 2012, we can of course list the major stories: the two consistories for the creation of new cardinals, the ongoing abuse crisis and the efforts in the Netherlands and Rome to deal with it, the Synod of Bishops, the start of the Year of Faith, the retirements, appointments and deaths, the local stories in my neck of the woods and the (mis)representation of the Church in the wider world. These can all characterise the year for the Catholic Church. But since there are as many interpretations as there are readers, I’ll limit myself to presenting the major stories on my blog per month.

For this blog, it has been a good year. With 87,017 views it has been the best year yet, and I am happy to note that I have been able to provide stories, opinions and translations that have been picked up well by other bloggers and media. The pope’s letter to the German bishops on the new translation of the Roman missal, for which I was able to create an English working translation; the Dutch translation of the Christmas address to the Curia; a German interview with Archbishop Müller and my list of surviving Vatican II Council Fathers are examples of this. Both local and international media picked these up, resulting in increased interest for my blog. For that, thank you.

But now, let’s once more go over 2012 and look back on what happened in that year:

Pope Benedict announces a consistory. The list of 22 new cardinals includes the archbishop of Utrecht.
CDF releases a note with recommendations for the Year of Faith.
Archbishop Tscherrig (pictured) leaves Scandinavia for Argentina.
Cardinal Zen Ze-Kiun turns 80.
– In the abuse crisis, soon-to-be Cardinal Eijk speaks before a parliamentary commission.
Bishop Jan Liesen is installed as bishop of Breda (Installation homily here).

german cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki (R)February:
Dutch-born South-African Bishop Everardus Baaij passes away.
Cardinal Levada opens a major symposium on sexual abuse in Rome.
– At the same symposium, Msgr. Charles Scicluna tells it like it is.
The bishops of Belgium reply to a modernist movement among priests and laity.
Cardinal-designate Eijk is interviewed by Zenit.
Cardinal-designate Dolan delivers a landmark address about the new evangelisation.
22 new cardinals are created in the consistory of 18 February (new Cardinal Eijk pictured).
Responsibilities within the Dutch bishops’ conference are reshuffled.
In Germany, Bishop Reinelt retires.
Dominik Schwaderlapp is appointed as auxiliary bishop of Cologne.
In Mainz, Bishop Guballa passes away after a long sickbed.
Cardinal Eijk returns home with a pastoral letter on the Eucharist.

Pope Shenouda IIIMarch:
Cardinal Eijk announces that he will be keeping a closer eye on the celebration of the liturgy.
Cardinal Quezada Toruño turns 80.
Cardinal Sánchez passes away.
Cardinal Simonis speaks to Zenit about the Second Vatican Council.
Copenhagen’s Bishop emeritus Martensen passes away.
The Dutch bishops respond to a new horrible chapter in the abuse crisis.
Coptic Pope Shenouda II (pictured) passes away.
The Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam makes public all the cases concerning sexual abuse by clergy.
A new presidency for the COMECE.
The Dutch bishops issue a letter concerning the celebration of the Easter Triduum, and the need to return its focus to the Eucharist.
Pope Benedict visits Mexico and Cuba.
Bishop Schwaderlapp is consecrated.

aponte martínezApril:
Cardinal Egan turns 80.
In the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden, the vicar general announces he will enter a monastery.
– In a letter to parliament, The Dutch bishops outline four developments in the fight against sexual abuse.
Pope Benedict directly addresses groups of disobedient priests and laity.
Cardinal Daoud passes away.
Cardinal Eijk reveals a monument for victims of sexual abuse in the Church.
Cardinal Aponte Martínez (pictured) passes away.
A parliamentary committee hears the ‘contact group’ for victims of sexual abuse.
The Dutch chapter of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem invests new members in the cathedral of Groningen-Leeuwarden.
Pope Benedict writes a letter to the German bishops and enters the debate about the new German translation of the Roman Missal.

bishop de korte, new altar st. joseph's cathedralMay:
After 66 years, the Belorussian Diocese of Pinsk finally gets a new bishop.
A new page on the blog, about my conversion story.
The annual pilgrimage to Our Lady of the Garden Enclosed takes place.
Cardinal Vlk turns 80.
Cardinal Eijk takes possession if his title church.
The Deetman Commission undertakes a new abuse investigation, this time into the abuse suffered by women.
Berlin’s Cardinal Woelki is misunderstood about homosexuality.
The cathedral of St. Joseph receives a new altar (Bishop de Korte anointing it pictured) and marks the 125th anniversary of its consecration.

logo year of faithJune:
Pope Benedict XVI visits Milan.
New priests.
Cardinal Quezada Toruño passes away.
Florian Wörner is appointed as auxiliary bishop of Augsburg.
The bishops of Roermond publish a brochure about Communion.
– The Dutch bishops follow suit with a letter about the same topic.
Cardinal Schwery turns 80.
The Instrumentum laboris of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation is published.
The logo for the Year of Faith is revealed (pictured).
A round of personnel changes in the Curia.
Dutch Father Louis Tijssen is declared venerable.
Archbishop Nowacki is appointed as the new nuncio to Scandinavia.
The Heel abuse affair breaks.
President-Delegates are appointed for the Synod.

Gerhard Ludwig MüllerJuly:
Archbishop Müller (pictured) is appointed as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
About half of the world’s bishops’ conferences have formulated guidelines against sexual abuse.
Cardinal de Araújo Sales passes away.
Bishop Borys Gudziak is appointed as Apostolic Exarch of France.
Cardinal Stafford turns 80.

carlo martiniAugust:
Bishop Wörner is consecrated, while Bishops Wehrle and Siebler retire.
The Diocese of Rotterdam publishes a Prayer for Faith.
Cardinal Rosales turns 80.
Cardinal Shan Kuo-Hsi passes away.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor turns 80.
A Dutch priest’s apparent refusal to baptise the child of a lesbian couple fails to escalate much.
Cardinal Martini (pictured) passes away.

pope benedict  lebanonSeptember:
Cardinal Martini’s last interview causes some debate.
Bishop de Korte marks the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
Rumours surface that priests in the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden are unhappy with their new appointments.
Elections in the Netherlands result in a loss for the Christian parties.
Cardinal Rubiano Sáenz turns 80.
Pope Benedict (pictured) visits Lebanon.
Misunderstandings about ecumenism in the Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch.
Pope Benedict XVI appoints 36 Synod Fathers.
Cardinal Baldelli passes away.
Questions arise about the German ‘Church tax’.
The first progress report on how the Church deals with abuse claims is released.

synod of bishopsOctober:
German Bishops Wanke and Schraml retire.
Dutch missionary Bishop Joseph Willigers passes away.
Morocco does not take kindly to the arrival of a Dutch ‘abortion boat’.
Vatican Promotor of Justice Charles Scicluna is recalled to Malta to become auxiliary bishop.
The Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation begins (pictured).
Cardinal Erdö outlines eleven points for the new evangelisation of Europe.
Belgian Curial Bishop Frans Daneels is made an archbishop.
The Year of Faith begins.
Pope Benedict announces a small consistory for November.
The Synod of Bishops closes.
An attempt at stopping liturgical abusive carnival Masses in Eindhoven.
Amsterdam’s St. Nicholas church is to be made a basilica.

brother hugo vowsNovember:
Cardinal Arinze turns 80.
Bishop Demming passes away.
New sexual abuse accusations surface in Iceland against Bishop Gijsen.
Liège’s Bishop Jousten retires.
At Rolduc, Dutch seminarians attend a conference on new evangelisation.
Bishop Michael Hrynchyshyn passes away.
Hermit Brother Hugo makes his perpetual vows (pictured).
The student chaplaincy in Tilburg is brought back into the Catholic fold.
European intolerance towards religion on display in Slovakia.
Cardinal Martino turns 80.
Pope Benedict XVI creates six new cardinals.
Dominican Fr. Timothy Radcliffe speaks about the ‘official Church’.

pope twitterDecember:
Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer is appointed as bishop of Regensburg.
Dutch missionary Bishop Wilhelmus Demarteau passes away.
Dutch government announces pulling the plug on small religious broadcasters.
Georg Gänswein is appointed as Prefect of the Papal Household and will be made an archbishop.
Cardinal Scheid turns 80.
Pope Benedict enters the Twitterverse (pictured).
Pope Benedict publishes the Apostolic Letter on charity, Intima Ecclesiae natura.
Dutch media totally misrepresent the pope on the family and gender.

That was 2012. Now let’s get 2013 started. Happy new year!


The dean stands firm, but carnival Masses will continue in Eindhoven

In a welcome decision, Father René Wilmink, the dean of Eindhoven in the Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch, took a stand against the ridiculisation of the Holy Mass. In discussion with the local carnival federation, Fr. Wilmink insisted that future carnival Masses – which are usually accompanied by priests dressed up, no sense of worthy reception of Holy Communion, and a general party atmosphere in the church – can only continue in his church of St. Catherine if they stay close to the heart of the faith.

A representative of the carnival club said: “In his case that means that we will no longer have a say about the liturgy and that there can’t  be any carnivalesque forms of expression on or around the altar or sanctuary”.

Is this guy for real? First of all, the liturgy belongs to the Church, not to a club of partygoers, and secondly, Fr. Wilmink doesn’t go his own way here, but that of the Church. In the celebration of the Mass, no one has any business in the sanctuary, unless they have a task to perform in the liturgy. And no, a clown, a juggler or a lector dressed up as a sailor have no business in the liturgy whatsoever. The Mass has a rather different focus and meaning.

Sadly, the Augustin fathers do welcome the carnival Mass in their church, which belongs to the Mariënhage monastery and as such falls outside the jurisdiction of the dean or the diocese (although, while the church in question remains the property of the Augustines, all pastoral care was handed to the city parish of Eindhoven some five years ago). The Augustine fathers are more than happy to “work with” the carnival federation “to preserve the carnival Mass for Eindhoven”.

Photo credit: [2] Image of the 2010 carnival Mass, Niels van Rooij

Priest attacked… for being Catholic

One of the consequences of the carnival Masses I wrote about earlier, has become clear in the small town of Reusel, in the diocese of Den Bosch. A carnival Mass of some sort was planned there, but the local priest, Father Luc Buyens evidently thought it prudent to make sure the Mass was Catholic. He therefore made a phone call to the town’s carnival prince, a 24-year-old man who leads an openly homosexual lifestyle. Since the Church requires all faithful who present themselves for Communion to be in a state of grace and lead a life in agreement with their faith, Father Buyens could do little else but tell the carnival prince that he would not be able to receive Communion.

This did not go down well. The prince did not understand why he couldn’t receive, stating he was a Catholic, baptised and confirmed and that his grandparents were in shock because of all this. A local member of the town council took it upon himself to defend the poor victim and rallied the national gay newspaper to organise a protest at Fr. Buyen’s church on Sunday.  The paper’s editor promised he’d be there ‘to enter into discussion with the faithful’.

Father Buyens had seemingly anticipated a response like this and said he would clarify his reasons to his parishioners on Sunday.

Now, a lot can be said about this. In the first place, a dressed-up carnival prince, homosexual or not, has no business being a lector during Mass. Maintain some level of dignity and decorum in the presence of the Lord. But that’s another discussion.

The priest could do nothing else but to deny this man Communion. In fact, he should have done so five years ago, when the man is said to have embarked on his openly homosexual way of life. And if the carnival prince was as Catholic as he said, he should have known this.

But I’m not surprised he didn’t. The vast majority of Catholics in this country knows next to nothing about their faith, let alone about such an important element as the Eucharist. Knowing what is required of the faithful before they can receive the Body and Blood of Christ? Surely that’s out of the question.

So here we have a priest who did his job, the only thing he could do. As documents, theologians and other experts emphasise time and again, the liturgy is not ours to do with as we wish, so changing the requirements for Communion is an impossibility, pure and simple.

The skewed perception of this affair will be in favour of the alleged victim. The modern consensus is that the boundless freedom for everyone to do whatever they wish is more important than the freedom of others to follow a set of morals, values and beliefs. Because these are ultimately not to be trusted, because they limit the freedom of others. And that is why they must be opposed, loudly, disproportionately, and they certainly must not be reasoned with.

I really wonder what any demonstration will achieve, apart from more anti-Catholic sentiments in the media. They surely can’t expect that the priest will change his mind?

It is quite maddening, to be honest.