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.
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For Red Hat 2, Pope Francis looks even further beyond the expected

Well, at least I guessed one new cardinal right… With Pope Francis, it turns out that it is exceedingly difficult to see who he wants to see as new cardinals. Today, he appointed 20 new cardinals, the majority of whom will come from places few people will be familiar with, let alone associated with the red hat. In his first consistory he appointed only one cardinal who was not an archbishop, but this time around there are four. This consistory class is perhaps even more peripheral than the previous one, in the good and Franciscan sense of the word. And one of the new cardinals hails from Germany, and has links to Belgium and Luxembourg.

Some interesting facts that appear with a glance at the list of names. But who are the new cardinals? First, a list of those who are below 80 and can thus participate in a future conclave and will hold offices in the Curia:

  • mambertiArchbishop Dominique François Joseph Mamberti: Appointed by Pope Francis as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and President of the Supreme Court of the Vatican City State. This office is traditionally held by a cardinal. Cardinal-designate Mamberti was born in Marrakech, Morocco, but has French nationality. He was a priest of the Diocese of Ajaccio, and has a diplomatic career behind him as Apostolic Nuncio in Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea, followed by six years as Secretary for the Relations with States (something like the foreign secretary of the Holy See).
  • macario do nascimento clementePatriarch Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente: Also a recent appointment and a traditional cardinalatial see, Patriarch Manuel has been the archbishop of Lisbon in Portugal since May of 2013. Before that he was an auxiliary bishop of Lisbon from 1999 to 2007, and Bishop of Porto from 2007 to 2013. He is a prolific author and early adopter of social media in Portugal.
  • souraphiel20Church1[1]Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel: The Archdiocese of Addis Abeba, which is part of the Ethiopic Rite of the Catholic Church, gets his second cardinal in this 66-year-old Lazarist bishop. Archbishop Souraphiel has been archbishop of the Ethiopian capital since 1999. Before that he was Provincial Superior of his order from 1990 to 1994, Vicar Apostolic of Jimma-Bonga from 1994 to 1997 ad Apostolic Administrator of Addis Abeba from 1997 to 1999. He is also the Chancellor of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
  • JohnDewArchbishop John Atcherley Dew: The archbishop of Wellington in New Zealand stands in a tradition of cardinals: his three immediate predecessors were all cardinals as well. Archbishop Dew was Auxiliary Bishop of Wellington from 1995 to 2004, Coadjutor Archbishop of the same see from 2004 to 2005 and ultimately Archbishop.
  • menichelliArchbishop Edoardo Menichelli: The archbishop of Ancona-Osimo since 2004 is not the first cardinal from this see, but he is the first in 110 years. Before this, he was Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto between 1994 and 2004.

 

  • nguyen van nhonArchbishop Pierre Nguyễn Văn Nhơn: Sure to have an influence on the relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, the appointment of the Archbishop of Hanoi gives the Vietnamese capital its fourth cardinal and Vietnam as a whole its second. Before his appointment as archbishop of Hanoi, Archbishop Nguyễn (Pierre is his Christian first name, Văn Nhơn his Vietnamese, which comes after the family name) was Coadjutor Bishop of Đà Lat from 1991 to 1994, Bishop of the same diocese from 1994 to 2010, and Coadjutor Archbishop of Hanoi in 2010.
  • suárez indaArchbishop Alberto Suárez Inda: The first Archbishop of Morelia in Mexico to be made a cardinal, Archbishop Suárez Inda has held the office since 1995. Before that he was Bishop of Tacámbaro since 1985. Morelia, west of Mexico City, is an area marked by drug violence, which may be an indication for why Pope Francis chose to make the bishop there a cardinal.
  • maung boArchbishop Charles Maung Bo: The Catholics in Myanmar are slowly winning more freedom, and see this recognised by the Archbishop of Yangon being made a cardinal, the first in the country’s  history. Archbishop Bo has been Archbishop of Yangon since 2003. Before that, he was Bishop of Lashio from 1990 to 1996 and Bishop of Pathein from 1996 to 2003.
  • kriengsakArchbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij: Neighbouring Myanmar, Thailand also gets a cardinal, its second one. Arcbishop Kriengsak Kovithavanij was Bishop of Nakhon Sawan from 2007 to 2009, after which he was made Archbishop of Bangkok.
  • montenegroArchbishop Francesco Montenegro: In an apparently clear reference to the Mediterranean refugee crisis, the Archdiocese of Agrigento in Sicily gets its first cardinal since the 17th century. The archdiocese includes the island of Lampedusa, where many refugees from Africa first arrive. Archbishop Montenegro was Auxiliary Bishop of Messina-Lipari-Santa Lucia del Mela between 2000 and 2008, before coming to Agrigento.
  • sturla berhouetArchbishop Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet: The Archbishop of Montevideo was appointed by Pope Francis in February of last year and will be the second cardinal of the Uruguayan capital. He was Auxiliary Bishop of Montevideo between 2011 and 2014. It is said that one Fr. Jorge Bergoglio was involved in protecting Sturla Berhouet from the dictatorship in Uruguay.
  • blazquezperezricardoArchbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez: The first Archbishop of Valladolid to be made a cardinal in almost a century, Archbishop Blázquez Perez  is the current President of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference. He was Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago do Compostela from 1988 to 1992, Bishop of Palencia from 1992 to 1995, Bishop of Bilbao from 1995 to 2010, and Archbishop of Valladolid since then.
  • lacunza maestrojuanBishop José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán: Only the third bishop and first cardinal from the Diocese of David in Panama. He will also be the first Panamanian cardinal. His diocese is located in the west of Panama, near the border with Costa Rica. In all senses a peripheral appointment, except for the fact that Bishop Lacunza Maestrojuán is the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Panama. Before coming to David, he was Auxiliary Bishop of Panama from 1985 to 1994, and Bishop of Chitré from 1994 to 1999.
  • gomes furtadoBishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado: From the island nation of Cape Verde, off the western African coast and closely connected to former coloniser Portugal, comes this bishop, the first cardinal in the country’s history. Cape Verde is largely Catholic, and Bishop Gomes Furtado is the Bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde, the oldest of the nations two dioceses.
  • Bishop MafiBishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi: In the Pacific lies the island nation of Tonga, home to some 16,000 Catholics in one diocese. That diocese’s bishop is now being made the nation’s first cardinal. He is the President of the largest bishops’ conference in the world by territory, that of the Pacific, which covers almost all populated islands of the southern Pacific. Bishop Mafi was Coadjutor Bishop of Tonga from 2007 to 2008, and Bishop since 2008.

In addition to these cardinals, Pope Francis has also named five non-electors, cardinals over the age of 80 who are created in recognition of their work. They are:

  • pimiento rodriguezArchbishop José de Jesús Pimiento Rodriguez: Archbishop emeritus of Manizales in Colombia. He is the first cardinal to come from Manizales and the fourth living Colombian cardinal overall. He participated in all session of the Second Vatican Council. An Auxiliary Bishop of Pasto from 1955 to 1959, Bishop of Monteriá from 1959 to 1964, Bishop of Garzón from 1964 to 1975, and Archbishop of Manizales from 1975 to 1996.
  • De-MagistrisArchbishop Luigi de Magistris: Pro-Penitentiary of the Apostolic Signatura from 2001 to 2003, after having been Regent of the same tribunal since 1979.

 

  • rauberArchbishop Karl-Josef Rauber: The German retired diplomat whose last position, from 2003 to 2009, was that of Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium and Luxembourg. Archbishop Rauber was involved with preliminary investigations into the succession of Cardinal Danneels as archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and was almost called to explain to the Belgian government what Pope Benedict XVI meant with his comments about condom use in Africa to combat AIDS. Before coming to Belgium and Luxembourg, Archbishop Rauber was Nuncio in Uganda, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, Moldova and Hungary. He is currently residing in the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, where he is active in administring the sacrament of Confirmation.
  • villalbaArchbishop Luis Héctor Villalba: From Pope Francis’ native Argentina comes this retired Archbishop of Tucumán, which has never before had a cardinal. He was an auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires from 1984 to 1991 (before Pope Francis was archbishop there), Bishop of San Martín from 1991 to 1999 and Archbishop of Tucumán from 1999 to 2011.
  • Bishop Julio Duarte Langa:  Only the second native son of Mozambique to be made a cardinal, he was bishop of Xai-Xai from 1976 to 2004.

It seems that Pope Francis’ focus when it comes to cardinals is on the local situation: he does not feel limited by tradition, but appoints cardinals where he thinks they’ll do good. Of course, the contribution they can make to the Roman Curia is also an important factor, but that body in itself does not warrant the creation of cardinals except where necessary.

In this list, several appointment seem to support this: The archbishops of Hanoi, Yangon, Morelia and Agrigento all come from areas where the Church is in some situation of struggle or confronted with pressing social needs, such as drug violence in Morelia and the Mediterranean refugee crisis for Agrigento.

And the list of new cardinals is highly representative of the world Church: Africa, Asia, Latin America and even Oceania set the tone, with Europa represented with two Italians, and no North Americans on the list.

With the new cardinals, the total College of Cardinals will number 228, with 125 electors among them. That slightly exceeds the maximum of 120 set by Blessed Pope Paul VI, but that is the Pope’s prerogative. Barring any deaths, the limit of 120 will be reached again in February of 2016.

The upcoming consistory will include both the youngest and one of the oldest cardinals: Bishop Soane Mafi of Tonga is 53, more than 2 years younger than Cardinal Thottunkal, who is the youngest now; Archbishop José Pimiento Rodriguez is 95 and there are only two cardinals older than he is: Giovanni Canestri and Loris Capovilla.

Titles and deaconries

Of the twenty new cardinals, there will be one Cardinal-Deacon (Mamberti), while the rest will be Cardinal-Priests. As ever, the Pope si free to create new titles and deaconries for new cardinals, but in practice most will be given churches that are currently vacant. Among the deaconries there are 11 vacancies, while there are only 5 vacancies among the cardinal title churches. So we will undoubtedly see new title churches being created or cardinal deaconries being elevated to title churches. Anything’s possible, but still, some guesses:

  • San Antonio in Campo Marzo was the title of Cardinal Policarpo, the previous Patriarch of Lisbon, so the title may be given to his successor, Patriarch Macário do Nascimento Clemente.
  • San Marco has been the title of the Patriarchs of Venice since 1933, so it will probably remain vacant for now.
  • Santa Maria in Vallicella has previously been held by two cardinals from Oceania, so it is possible that this tradition will continue and it is given to Archbishop Dew of Bishop Mafi.
  • San Girolamo della Carità is a deaconry that may be elevated to a title church and given to Archbishop Villalba, as it was previously also held by an Argentinean, the recently deceased Cardinal Mejía.

A consistory for the history books

It was anything but a regular consistory this morning. Not only Francis’ first, but also one coloured, as Holy See communications advisor Greg Burke put it on Twitter, “lots of red with a bit of white”. Seated next to the cardinal bishops was the humble figure of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, back in St. Peter’s for the first time since Ash Wednesday of last year. His presence gave us the unique sight of a Pope watching his own successor creating cardinals. We can safely say that that has never happened before. Pope Benedict was warmly welcomed back to the basilica behind which he spends his days. Pope Francis made sure that his first greeting was to his predecessor, and later words of welcome by Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin were followed by applause. And although those in attendance were asked not to applaud upon the entrance of Pope Francis, no one minded this one bit.

francis benedict consistory

As expected, the rite of the ceremony was unchanged from the previous two, although there were unique accents. The absence of Cardinal Capovilla, and Pope Francis descending from his place in front of the altar to grant biretta, ring and bull to wheelchair-bound Cardinal Kutwa, are but two examples.

In the meantime, I have updated the list of cardinals on this blog. The new cardinals join the rest of the College at the bottom of the list, as far as precedence is concerned.

And finally, some photos that I came across:

parolin consistory

As the first name on the list, Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, addresses the Pope on behalf of the other new cardinals.

francis parolinPope Francis waves to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to acknowledge and thank him for his presence.

francis ouédraogoPope Francis with Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo

cardinals consistory

New and old cardinals greet and congratulate each other.

brenes solorzano benedictCardinal Leopoldo Brenes Solórzano embraces Pope Benedict