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The flag of Amsterdam

The Dutch capital, Amsterdam, is a bit of an oddball among European capitals. Unlike most of the others, it is not the see of a bishop. Its only compatriot in this is Bern in Switzerland, which is in the Diocese of Basel and whose bishop resides at Solothurn.

In the case of Amsterdam, the diocese is Haarlem-Amsterdam and the bishop lives in Haarlem. The reason for this is firmly entrenched in the Protestant history of these shores: when the Catholic hierarchy was re-established in 1853, the city fathers of Amsterdam vetoed a bishop coming to live among them. That is why Bishop Franciscus van Vree, the first bishop of the new diocese of Haarlem, which at that time extended from the island of Texel all the way to the islands of South Holland, settled for Haarlem, no doubt with the firm idea of one day moving to Amsterdam (perhaps as archbishop, had the pedigree of Utrecht not trumped the cards of Haarlem). That never happened.

In recent years, under the episcopate of Bishop Jos Punt, Amsterdam is again slowly but surely presented as an important Catholic centre in the Netherlands (it is helped in this by the fact that it was the location of a medieval Eucharistic miracle which is still the centre of an annual night-time procession). In 2008, the diocese changed its name from Haarlem to Haarlem-Amsterdam and it is rumoured that Bishop Punt would not mind elevating the St. Nicholas church in Amsterdam as co-cathedral of his diocese.

Bishop van Burgsteden

This past weekend, the value of Amsterdam was underlined once again, when St. Nicholas priest Father Joop Stam celebrated his last Mass before enjoying his retirement. Both Bishop Punt and Auxiliary Bishop Jan van Burgsteden attended this Mass, and it is the latter who is now made administrator of the parish that Fr. Stam is leaving. He will be the de facto head of the parish until another priest is named to succeed Fr. Stam. It is therefore not a permanent position, but the fact that a bishop was appointed to the function speaks volumes.

Amsterdam is the centre of much that goes on in the Netherlands, and the local Church not only wants to reflect that, but have her presence similarly visible there.

About this blog

I am a Dutch Catholic from the north of the Netherlands. In this blog I wish to provide accurate information on current affairs in the Church and the relation with society. It is important for Catholics to have knowledge about their own faith and Church, especially since these are frequently misrepresented in many places. My blog has two directions, although I use only English in my writings: on the one hand, I want to inform Dutch faithful - hence the presence of a page with Dutch translations of texts which I consider interesting or important -, and on the other hand, I want to inform the wider world of what is going on in the Church in the Netherlands.

It is sometimes tempting to be too negative about such topics. I don't want to do that: my approach is an inherently positive one, and loyal to the Magisterium of the Church. In many quarters this is an unfamiliar idea: criticism is often the standard approach to the Church, her bishops and priests and other representatives. I will be critical when that is warranted, but it is not my standard approach.

For a personal account about my reasons for becoming and remaining Catholic, go read my story: Why am I Catholic?


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Netherlands License.

The above means that I have the right to be recognised as the author of both the original blog posts, as well as any translations I make. Everyone is free to share my content, but with credit in the form of my name or a link to my blog.

Blog and media

Over the years, my blog posts have been picked up by various other blogs, websites and media outlets.

A complete list would be prohibitively long, so I'll limit myself to mentioning The Anchoress, Anton de Wit, Bisdom Haarlem-Amsterdam, The Break/SQPN, Caritas in Veritate, Catholic Culture, The Catholic Herald, EWTN, Fr. Ray Blake's Blog, Fr. Z's Blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, Katholiek Gezin,, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, New Liturgical Movement, NOS, Protect the Pope, Reformatorisch Dagblad, The Remnant, RKS Ariëns, Rorate Caeli, The Spectator, Vatican Insider, Voorhof and Whispers in the Loggia.

All links to, quotations of and use as source material of my blog posts is greatly appreciated. It's what I blog for: to further awareness and knowledge in a positive critical spirit. Credits are equally liked, of course.

Blog posts have also been used as sources for various Wikipedia articles, among them those on Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carré, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Sergio Utleg and Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki.

Latest translations added:

20 April: [English] Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki - Easter message.

15 April: [English] Bishop Frans Wiertz - Homily on sexual abuse.

4 April: [English] Pope Francis - Interview with Belgian youth.

25 February: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Brief aan de Gezinnen.

24 February: [Dutch] Raymond Kardinaal Burke - De radicale oproep van de paus tot de nieuwe evangelisatie.
De focus van Paus Franciscus op liefde en praktische pastorale zorg in de grotere context van de Schrift en de leer van de Kerk.

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This blog is a voluntary and free effort. I don't get paid for it, and money is never the main motivator for me to write the things I write.

But, since time is money, as they say, I am most certainly open to donations from readers who enjoy my writings or who agree with me that it communicating the faith and the news that directly affects us as Catholics, is a good thing.

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Sancta Maria, hortus conclusus, ora pro nobis!

Sancte Ramon de Peñafort, ora pro nobis!

Pope Francis

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the Servants of God

Bishop Gerard de Korte

Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden

Willem Cardinal Eijk

Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto, Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht

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