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Yesterday, Bishop Jan Liesen, holding the liturgy portfolio in the Dutch bishops’ conference, wrote a letter about the confusion surrounding popular Christmas songs in the liturgy. In the piece, which was published in Katholiek Nieuwsblad and on the conference’s website rkkerk.nl, the bishop confirms what many had already suspected: Publisher of Mass booklets, Berne Heeswijk, and especially director Fr. Joost Jansen, spoke nonsense when they said that the bishops had forbidden the use of such songs as ‘Silent Night’ in the liturgy of Christmas.
Bishop Liesen writes:
“This statement is not true and has caused much unrest. [...] The Christmas song question is not new. In 2001 the Roman Congregation for Divine Worship decided that liturgical songs in the vernacular need the approval of both the bishops’ conference and the Holy See. To properly introduce this measure a list of songs for the liturgy was created and at the same a period of transition was sought. On the request of and in consultation with publisher Berne the Dutch bishops received such a transition period: for two years a number of songs could be used in the liturgy, even if they were not (yet) included in the list. It was agreed with Berne that the publisher would abide by the approved songs. This agreement was signed, among others, by Fr. Jansen. To be clear: the list of approved songs is still in development and is continuously expanded with new songs; both theologians and musicians are working on this. Traditional Christmas songs are also suggested.”
He adds in a subsequent paragraph that all people involved in the publication of Mass booklets – among them Fr. Jansen (pictured below) - were informed in June of this year that the so-called ‘Christmas traditionals’ may now be printed in the back of these booklets.
All this puts the publisher’s earlier statements – that the bishops had forbidden the use of such songs, and that they had petitioned Rome to issue this ban – in a new light. Simply put: he was talking nonsense. There never has been a ban, and certainly not one planned by the bishops, and the traditional popular Christmas songs may still be used – in their proper place – on Christmas Eve.
Sadly, no correction is yet to be found on the publisher’s website… which makes me wonder: was this an honest mistake or a wilful misrepresentation of facts. For one in the business of publishing, such a misunderstanding of agreements made and signed is a very serious one…
Bishop Liesen concludes his letter as follows:
“Part of that treasure of songs, to which many faithful are justifiably attached, are many Christmas songs. The bishops, too, enjoy singing them and informed Berne on 21 June that these songs are very much suited to be published in the back of the Mass booklets, so that they may be sung at Christmas.”
Photo credit:  Jeroen Appels/Van Assendelft
Questions from Katholiek Nieuwsblad to Cardinal Wim Eijk’s spokesman, Hans Zuijdwijk, reveal that the cardinal has been far from the legalistic tyrant that the media and his opponents made him out to be in the case of Fr. Harry Huisintveld’s invalid Mass and the subsequent sanctions imposed on him.
Before taking the steps to sanction to the Dominican priest, Cardinal Eijk contacted the superior of the order in the Netherlands, Friar René Dinklo (pictured), and asked him to withdraw Fr. Huisintveld from the parish where the liturgical abuse took place, in order to spare him a dishonourable discharge by the cardinal. The Dominican superior refused to do so.
Explaining his motives further, Friar Dinklo declared to support Fr. Huisintveld in content, although he considers his actions to have been “tactically unwise”.
“In the runup to the Maundy Thursday celebration, Father Huisintveld, together with a small preparation group drawn from the faith community, searched in an authentic way how in the meaning of what we celebrate on Maundy Thursday could be made understandable for the churchgoers in the liturgy. [...] That is a very valued approach.”
Ugh. If any more evidence was needed to show what’s wrong with the Dutch Dominicans… If there is a perceived need among the faithful to receive a better explanation of any given faith subject or doctrine, you fulfill that need by reflecting that topic or dogma truthfully and completely, as the Church has tasked you to do. You don’t go and change the content and language of it to fit your own personal opinions and needs.
In the meantime, Fr. Huisintveld has displayed his personal faith in the media, a faith that is really not Catholic, no matter what he personally thinks it is (for example, he stated that Christ did not die on the Cross “out of His own free will, or for our sins”. Mr. Zuijdwijk rightly commented that such a statement perplexes him as a Catholic). As I have said earlier in different contexts: we don’t decide what’s Catholic, the Church does and has.
An ugly situation. Let’s hope this is the end of it, and that everyone will see the events as what they are: not some excessive expression of authority against a man’s personal freedom, but a necessary precaution to protect the liturgy of the Church and, most importantly, the content it expresses: our faith and salvation.
Photo credit: kloosterzwolle.nl
Today we remember Blessed Titus Brandsma, who was persecuted and killed for defending not only the faith, but also the moral implications of that faith.
God our Father,
source of life and freedom,
through your Holy Spirit you gave the Carmelite Titus Brandsma
the courage to affirm human dignity even in the midst of suffering and degrading persecution.
Grant us that same Spirit,
so that, refusing all compromise with error,
we may always and everywhere give coherent witness
to your abiding presence among us.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
On a related note, Katholiek Nieuwsblad reports that Rome is currently investigating at least three miracles granted on Blessed Titus’ intercession. One is needed for a future canonisation.
In fact, the problem may only be getting bigger in the immediate future.
After a plenary debate in Parliament yesterday, Justice secretary Ivo Opstelten will be asking the Church to look into what happened to young women and girls in the care of the Church. This after the investigation of the Deetman commission revealed the majority of abuse victims to have been male, Katholiek Nieuwsblad reports. Physical and psychological violence should now also be investigated, as well as the issue of babies put up for adoption on the insistence of Church workers.
Secretary Opstelten is said to be planning to ask Mr. Wim Deetman to also look into these new topics, which were not part of the initial investigation, as it focussed exclusively on sexual abuse of minors. Archbishop Eijk, in a meeting with Parliament members two weeks ago, said that bishops and religious superiros had spoken about including physical and psychological violence in the assignment given to the Deetman commission, but decided against it because of the difficulty of defining violence.
The Deetman commission itself, per its final report, is hesitant about the usefulness of such an investigation, and has emphasised the importance of investigating such forms of abuse, together with sexual abuse, child pornography, child prostitution and people trafficking as a social problem. The Samson commission is investigating the plight of children placed under the care of the government between 1973 and today, and has received 600 claims already. Mr. Deetman suggested awaiting the result of that investigation.
I tend to agree with Deetman’s suggestion. Why have two investigations into roughly the same issue, and why take a small sampling of society to get a big picture? After all, physical abuse took place in our society, not just the Church. Solving the problem in the Church does not solve it in schools, clubs and families. We must not bury our heads and the sand and pretend society as a whole knows no problems, that it is only the Church which does things wrong. Look at the whole picture, not just one or two details. By all means, the Church must look hard at her recent past and do what can be done to set things straight, but she by no means the only one who must do so.
Photo credit: Tweedekamer.nl
“You don’t control the results, but that does not change the obligation to do the best we can. There is an essential element of freedom in there. You belong to the Roman Catholic Church because you want to, as conviction you gladly have. Many “enrolled” as children, but it must be confirmed at some point. If it isn’t, it remains something superficial and will not bear fruit. For the intended effect of sowing is for it to take root and bear fruit.”
Words from Bishop Jan Liesen, spoken in an interview with Katholiek Nieuwsblad, prior to his installation as bishop of Breda tomorrow. The installation Mass, which will be concelebrated by Bishop Liesen, his predecessor, Bishop Hans van den Hende, Archbishop Wim Eijk of Utrecht, Bishop Antoon Hurkmans of ‘s Hertogenbosch (where Msgr. Liesen has been auxiliary bishop), other bishops present, and members of the cathedral chapter. The new Nuncio to the Netherlands, Archbishop André Dupuy, will not yet be present. Instead, the Holy See will be represented by Msgr. Habib Thomas Halim, secretary of the nunciature in The Hague.
With some 500 people invited, the Mass is closed to visitors, simply because of the relatively small size of the Cathedral of St. Anthony. Priority has been given to representatives of the parishes of the diocese, as well as various dignitaries. In addition to the bishops mentioned above, Bishop Wiertz, De Korte, Punt, Mutsaerts, Hoogenboom and Hendriks will also be present, as well as Bishops Bonny and De Kesel from the two Belgian dioceses that border Breda, and the emeriti Cardinal Simonis, and Bishops Ernst, Muskens and Van Burgsteden.
The Queen’s Commissioners in the provinces of Zeeland and Noord-Brabant, the mayor of Breda and the governor of the Royal Military Academy, which is located in Breda, will also attend the Mass or the following reception.
Earlier today, several news channels broke the news that Msgr. Dr. Johannes Willibrordus Maria (Jan for short) Hendriks has been appointed as the new auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam. Katholiek Nieuwsblad and Rorate both published the appointment about 90 minutes before the usual embargo was lifted at noon. Katholiek Nieuwsblad evidently realised their error and retracted the news item, before republishing it at the proper time.
The appointment comes as virtually no surprise. The name of Hendriks widely circulated when Rotterdam became vacant earlier this year, and some also mentioned him for Breda, which remains vacant still. Msgr. Hendriks is a priest of the Diocese of Rotterdam, although he has been working in the neighbouring Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam for years, most recently as rector of the Tiltenberg seminary, canon of the cathedral chapter, and canon lawyer for the legal court of Haarlem-Amsterdam. Since 2004, he has also been a consultor for the Congregation for the Clergy.
The bishop elect is a productive author, having written books and articles about such topics as canon law, the Blessed Virgin, celibacy, Vatican II and education, and various others.
The new auxiliary bishop succeeds Bishop Jan van Burgsteden, whose retirement was approved at the same time at Msgr. Hendriks’ appointment. The amiable and much-loved Van Burgsteden has been auxiliary bishop since 2000, and turned 75 in December. Despite his age, he travelled down to Madrid for August’s World Youth Days and would probably be able to function a while longer as auxiliary.
As auxiliary bishop, Msgr. Hendriks will hold the titular see of Arsacal, located in modern Algeria. The date of his consecration is announced as 10 December, but whether or not it can take place in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Bavo, which is undergoing extensive restorations, remains to be seen.
As motto, the bishop elect chose a quote from the Gospel of John: “Quodcumque dixerit vobis, facite” (“Do whatever He tells you”).
And lastly for now, fittingly for an active Facebook user, Msgr. Hendriks releases his first statement via that medium: “Today it’s been announced that I have been appointed as auxiliary bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, with Arsacal as titular see. Heartfelt thanks to all who pray for me and wished me well.”
The bishop, clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam have received a kindhearted and intelligent auxiliary bishop and vicar general who will undoubtedly prove to be an able shepherd for the Church.
Photo credit: RKK
Words from Archbishop Wim Eijk in response to the ridiculous claims made against him in the Volkskrant. Katholiek Nieuwsblad published a short interview with the archbishop in which he counters these claims. Yesterday the Dutch bishops released a joint statement to the same effect. It’s a shame that that statement and this interview asre not picked up by the major newspapers, whereas the Volkskrant article – a shoddy piece of work – was.
Here is my translation of the interview, conducted by Jan Peeters:
KN: The core element of the criticism which you received this week, seems once more to be the closing of the Ariënskonvikt. As you said you fear in November of 2009, the criticism seems to be leading its own life. Is that true?
Abp. Eijk: “It is true that Ms. Stienstra again proclaims in the media that millions have been left in legates to the Ariënskonvikt, but we don’t have them. I haven’t heard anything about this from others in the past year either – her statement is not true. Once again: the Ariënskonvikt was closed at the time because of the deficient finances and the small number of students, which meant there was not enough of a community life.”
In April of 2011, the Volkskrant repeats criticism which you have tried to refute almost 18 months ago. There must be some truth in it, people may think…
“It remains to be seen if people think that. False accusations do not become automatically ‘true’ because they are proclaimed again 18 months later.”
The prevalent image is that Msgr. Eijk does not allow contradiction and sidelines or fires people who are critical about him. In how far is that image true?
“That image is not based on facts. In various consultation structures and in meetings with parish councils I get continously replies and sometimes also criticism. I certainly take advantage of that, but, on the other hand, I did not become bishop to win the popularity prize. I can’t please everyone. Criticism is fine, but slander is whole different story. Whoever publically calls me a liar has a problem: I can’t work with someone like that. But in all honesty, I don’t think that’s out of the ordinary.”
You are also accused of acting authoritarian, that you do not involve people in decisions, but present them with accomplished facts. You do you see that yourself?
“Upon my installation as archbishop I found a diocese on the edge of bankruptcy. Quick and robust measures were necessary. In such an ‘emergency situation’ there sometimes wasn’t time to garner support, I am aware of that. Because of that promptness people have sometimes felt ambushed by decisions. But in that period there has also always been discussion: with the members of the staff of the diocese, the chapter, the council of priests, the Council for Economic Affairs. By now there is more time for discussion; For example, all the parish council now come by to discuss the pastoral-liturgical policy plans.”
It is well known that your relations with the bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden were strained when he was still your auxiliary bishop. Later you and your auxiliary bishops have made your complaints about him in a letter that was leaked to the press. What is true about the claim that you wanted to have him removed from office as a bishop?
“That is pure nonsense. In a press release earlier this week, the bishops’ conference have made it know that at no time such a request was made to Rome.”
The accountant of the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden has accused you of an ’un-Christian attitude’. Is it true that you demanded his resignation?
“No, that is not true. I did, among other things, ask for public apologies for his words.”
It is said you even hired investigators to find the one who ‘leaked’ the letter. Is it true,and did you find the ‘leak’?
“That is a ridiculous accusation. From the archdiocese there has been no contact with whichever investigating bureau whatsoever, let alone that “Msgr. Eijk sent investigators to his bishops to check their computers,” as the Volkskrant wrote. The bishops’ conference distanced itself also from this in a mutual statement. The suggestion was made in cooperation with the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden, to try and find who leaked the letter, for example by hiring such a bureau together. But nothing has come from that.”
Following the closing of the Ariënskonvikt you are said to also want to close your own cathedral or the St. Augustine church. Is that true?
This too is an urban legend. It is not up to the archbishop to close a church building. It’s the parish that takes that initiative; it owns the church building. The archdiocese did ask the parish council for a thorough finaincial planning for the next several years regarding the buildings. That was necessary because the parish wanted to take a number of decisions which involved large sums of money. That requires the authorisation of the bishop. A long term planning was not suuplied by the parish, which was reason for the Council for Economic Affairs to give a negative advice for now. That can not lead to the conclusion that, as far as the diocese is concerned, one of the churches must be closed; when the parish supplies a good planning, the CEA may still advice positively.”
The former parish house of the cathedral, which until the closing housed part of the konvikt, has to be sold. For whom are the proceeds?
“The parish house is property of the Salvator parish (the parish in the inner city of Utrecht) and the p[roceeds of the sale will fully benefit this parish.”
There are said to be ‘earmarked donations for Utrecht’s seminary. What will happens with that money now that the Ariënskonvikt is closed?
“Insofar as there are ‘earmarked’ donations for the seminary, these will go to the Priesteropleiding Fund. This will pay for the education of the semrians of Utrecht.”
How many seminarians does the archdiocese have and where do they study?
At the moment, the archdiocese has five seminarians. Three of them study at the Tiltenberg, the seminary of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam. One seminarian lives in the city of Utrecht and the fifth studies at Bovendonk and lives in Breda.”
Is it true that they are not allowed to study in Tilburg? Isn’t that still a vote of no-confidence towards your own Faculty of Catholic Theology?
“Three of the five seminarians may, as a transitory rule, complete their education at the FCT. This is no longer possible for new students. That is not a vote of no-confidence towards the FCT, but it has to do with the disappearance of the link between the Ariënskonvikt and the FCT. At the konvikt the students lived in community and there they received the spiritual and psychological formation which is also part of the education of a priest. To follow classes at the FCT from the Tiltenberg is very difficult due to the distance. And he who studies at the FCT with being rooted in a community lacks the psychological formation. So practical concerns make the FCT no longer an option.”
Did you take notice of the appeal that Ms. Stienstra is to present to the pope against you? In what way is an (arch)bishop free to create policy?
“Ms. Stienstra did not send her appeal to the archdiocese. I can say nothing about it.”
The pope’s homily at the vigil for all nascent human life, held last Saturday, is now available online. NCR has the Engish translation, and I have a Dutch one. Particularly timely in the light of a small resurgence in pro-life debate in the Netherlands (in the wake of Bishop de Jong’s letter to all Dutch MPs, the initiative was then enthusiastically taken up by Katholiek Nieuwsblad editor Mariska Orbán), the homily is workmanlike, as Father Z put it; the pope makes his points clearly and unashamedly.
Again paraphrasing Msgr. Chaput, the good Archbishop of Denver: Forget the media headlines, just read the pope.
Sadly I was unable to attend the vigil offered in the cathedral of my diocese. Instead I was two dioceses over, in Oldenburg in the diocese of Münster. The local church, St. Peter’s in the city centre, sadly offered nothing in the way of prayer or celebration, at least not when I was there. I’d be interested to find how well (or poorly) attended the vigils across the Netherlands were. All cathedrals held them, and a number of parishes, seminaries and rectorates did the same.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini