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In the latest parish bulletin, Father Rolf Wagenaar announces that Mass according to the missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII, what is now commonly known as the Extraordinary Form or the Tridentine Mass, will be celebrated once a month in the cathedral of St. Joseph, starting on 10 April.
Father Wagenaar writes:
“The diocese received the request [for Mass in the Extraordinary Form] and the bishop has asked me if I would be willing to offer this Mass at certain specific times, or permit that another priest would offer Mass according to the aforementioned missal in the cathedral of St. Joseph.
“After some deliberations and consultations I agreed to give a priest the opportunity to do so.
“For the time being this will happen once a month. The first time will be the second Sunday of April, 10 April, at 18:00 hours at the cathedral of St. Joseph. We will see how much interest there is.”
Other sources inform us that the celebrating priest will be Father Dr. Gero P. Weishaupt, German-born priest of the Diocese of Roermond, Church lawyer and one-time private secretary to now-Cardinal Mauro Piacenza when the latter was President of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.
This is the current high point of a development that goes back more than three years. The discussions have been acknowledged by the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden last year, when the vicar-general, Msgr. Leo van Ulden, called for people who desired a Mass in the Extraordinary Form to contact him. He then also said that Bishop Gerard de Korte had pointed out two churches that he deemed suitable for this Mass, among them the cathedral.
My translation of Bishop Schneider’s interesting address about a correct reading of the Second Vatican Council has been ready for a while now, but I have only gotten around to putting it online now. Please note that it has not yet been reread thoroughly. That will happen though, eventually.
In the mean time, Bishop Schneider is the subject of a rather rare occurence within the hierarchy of the Church: the moving of an auxiliary bishop to another diocese. Previously of the Diocese of Karaganda, Msgr. Schneider was appointed yesterday to the neighbouring Archdiocese of Maria Santissima in Astana. It is of course not unusual for an auxiliary bishop to be moved to another diocese to serve as the new ordinary, but in this case, Msgr. Schneider continues to be an auxiliary bishop.
This appointment coincides with Bishop Janusz Kaleta succeeding Archbishop Jan Lenga in Karaganda. Archbishop Lenga is only 60 years old, so his retirement is due to other reasons than the obligatory retirement at 75.
In Maria Santissima in Astana, Bishop Schneider will work under Archbishop Tomasz Peta.
Father Z suggests a reason for the reassignment:
It is not often that an auxiliary bishop is moved to be auxiliary bishop of a different diocese. Even to the metropolitan see.
Bp. Schneider gets around. It might be easier to get around from Astana, rather than from Karaganda.
And as an auxiliary, without the obligation of the administration of a diocese, he can speak about many things in many places.
Seriously, how did this man ever make it to official spokesman of the archbishop of Brussels? The two are polar opposites in intelligence, intention and willingness to go against the grain.
Yesterday, Archbishop Léonard offered a Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Brussels; the first time a Belgian archbishop has done so in over 40 years. Belgian daily De Standaard reports some 500 people attending the Mass, but plays the number down by saying that these were mostly just “curious”. Sure.
Disgraced spokesman Jürgen Mettepenningen also opened his mouth about it: “I have never known of Cardinal Danneels having done the same. This is not the signal that a Church that wants to be contemporary should send out. It fits within an attitude that falls back on the past, when the liturgy was still something between priest and God.”
Honestly, just about every sentence is rife with errors. Cardinal Danneels not having done anything like this fits within the general trend in the Low Countries, as well as with the cardinal’s own priorities. It says nothing about Archbishop Léonard. This is indeed the signal of a contemporary Church; a Church willing to embrace the complete package of Tradition, liturgy and doctrine, instead of the politically correct bits and pieces in an attempt to speak to the masses by not being too difficult. Acknowledging and making use of Tradition, the 2,000-year development of Church, faith and philosophy could be considered falling back on the past: the past being, in this case, the rich treasure chest from which we draw so much of our identity, knowledge, faith and, yes, knowledge of the Lord. And then, lastly, the liturgy being between priest and God? Ridiculous nonsense. The liturgy is always a matter of God and His people. In that order. God first, people second, in an eternal dialogue of love and teaching. The priest faces the Lord together with the people: all face the same direction, because before God all men and women are equal, be they priest or laity. The liturgy of the Mass is not about ‘having something to do’; it is about prayer, about getting to know God (something with which we are never finished), communicating with Him, and He with us, not according to our own standards, but to His, the standards which were part of His plan for us ever since the Fall.
Mettepenningen’s comments are characteristic of the shallow idea of ‘being Church’ that has spread so heavily in the west in the past decades. Church is not something we make together: it is something given to us by Christ as the prime means of our salvation. It is therefore not a social club, not a self-help centre, not an opportunity to be constructive by being the centre of attention. The liturgy of the Mass is the uniting of the people of God to the heart of Christ, in prayer, as part of the world Church, and thus as something much, much greater than we are.
Photo credit: (2) Bart Dewaele/De Standaard
Over the past days I have been blogging less than usual, and the reason is due to this man: Msgr. Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Karaganda in Kazakhstan. In orthodox circles his name is not unknown, being the author of the book Dominus Est (It is the Lord) in which he powerfully advocates a return to Communion on the tongue. His is an educated and eloquent voice, very much the seminary professor (which he, in fact, is).
His latest work, which has made a moderate impact in the Catholic blogosphere, is an address he held in December at a conference about the Second Vatican Council seen in the light of the Tradition of the Church.
I have been working on a Dutch translation of that address, of which you may find an English translation here. In it, Bishop Schneider, expands on seven points dealing with the pastoral theory and practice, points which are listed on the Council’s Decree on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, which I’ll quote here:
The Church announces the good tidings of salvation to those who do not believe, so that all men may know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, and may be converted from their ways, doing penance [Jn. 17:3; Lk. 24:17; Ac 2:38]. To believers also the Church must ever preach faith and penance, she must prepare them for the sacraments, teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded [Mt. 28:20], and invite them to all the works of charity, piety, and the apostolate. For all these works make it clear that Christ’s faithful, though not of this world, are to be the light of the world and to glorify the Father before men. (SC, 9).
Bishop Schneider takes each point in turn and, making extensive use of a number of Conciliar documents, as well as addresses and homilies by the Conciliar popes, Blessed John XXIII and Paul VI, uses them to explain the aim of the Council on various doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral topics. In this way, he not only attempts (and succeeds, I think) to explain the actual texts of the documents, but also the intentions of the popes and the Council Fathers.
Ultimately, his address leads to a call for a new Syllabus to counter the errors which have crept into the interpretation of the Council. He takes Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus Errorum (Syllabus of Errors) as a model for his proposed Syllabus. In contrast to the earlier Syllabus, Bishop Schneider’s proposal is triggered not solely by errors from outside the Church. He names both groupings who wish to ‘protestantise’ the Church “doctrinally, liturgically and pastorally”, and traditionalist groups who reject the Council, “submitting for now only to the invisible Head of the Church”.
Bishop Schneider’s scholarly approach to the subject makes that this address is not only food for thought in orthodox circles. It is a source of education for all Catholics about the Council, as well as a call to action, to fully understand what it means to be Catholic and act accordingly.
My Dutch translation will follow soon.
(picture courtesy of Father John Boyle’s blog Caritas in Veritate)
As misleading headlines continue to appear left, right and centre (even in Christian newspapers such as the Nederlands Dagblad), the best source to find out anything sensible is still the pope himself. Numerous Catholic news sites offer full texts and quotations to counter the damage done by L’Osservatore Romano, who broke the embargo that was supposed to have stayed in place until tomorrow.
In a previous post I already linked to Jimmy Akin’s post about the subject, and I also have a Dutch translation of the same available here.
In closing I quote Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver:
In the context of the book’s later discussion of contraception and Catholic teaching on sexuality, the Pope’s comments are morally insightful. But taken out of context, they can easily be inferred as approving condoms under certain circumstances. One might reasonably expect the Holy Father’s assistants to have an advance communications plan in place, and to involve bishops and Catholic media in a timely way to explain and defend the Holy Father’s remarks.
Instead, the Vatican’s own semi-official newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano, violated the book’s publication embargo and released excerpts of the content early. Not surprisingly, news media instantly zeroed in on the issue of condoms, and the rest of this marvelous book already seems like an afterthought.
Don’t let that happen. Don’t let confusion in the secular press deter you from buying, reading for yourself, and then sharing this extraordinary text. It’s an astonishing portrait of an astonishing man.
Bishop Jo Gijsen, emeritus of the Dioceses of Roermond (1972-1993) and Reykjavik (1996-2007), is being accused of sexual abuse, it became known today. A former student at the Rolduc seminary lodged the complaint which states that Bishop Gijsen, then a teacher there, would peek at the student in his bed, while the latter was masturbating. Bishop Gijsen denies the accusation, which relates to the period between 1959 and 1961.
He states: “If it is true what is being said, it must be a case of mistaken identity. I could not have been that, because I wasn’t in the situation. That they may know me could be true, because I was a teacher. But I could not have done that.” What Bishop Gijsen means with ‘not having been in the situation’ remains to be seen. At the moment the complaint, which was lodged in May, is being investigated by Hulp en Recht.
Bishop Gijsen further says he received two letters from Hulp en Recht, informing him of the accusation against him. “I received the last letter at the end of July or beginning of August. I am not under the impression that any more is forthcoming from Hulp en Recht, or that there is anything I need to do now.”
I find myself fervently hoping the accusation is unfounded. We do not need a Dutch version of the Vangheluwe mess. Please let Bishop Gijsen, Hulp en Recht, the alleged victim and all other parties involved be as open and honest as they possible can. Don’t let them sit back and wait, but let them take action to dig out the truth as soon as possible, even, and especially, if it doesn’t fit the agenda of the secular media. I hope it doesn’t fit that agenda.
The Diocese of Roermond announces that, following today’s news reports, it has been familiar with the accusation against Emeritus Bishop Gijsen. Bishop Frans Wiertz, who succeeded Bishop Gijsen in 1993, has informed the Public Prosecutor immediately, as is policy. Since the accusations concern a bishop, the papal Nuncio has also been informed.
Today, 4 August is the feast day of St. John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of all priests and confessors. His life is an example of man being elevated to do the work that God calls him to do, that no task is impossible for us if God gives it to us. So today, let’s pray for all our priests, that they too may be able to perform the work that God has entrusted to them.
“All Good Works together are not of equal value with the sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the works of men, and the holy Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison; it is the sacrifice that man makes of his life to God; the Mass is the sacrifice that God makes to man of His Body and of His Blood. Oh, how great is a priest! if he understood himself he would die. . . . God obeys him; he speaks two words, and Our Lord comes down from Heaven at his voice, and shuts Himself up in a little Host. God looks upon the altar. “That is My well-beloved Son, ” He says, “in whom I am well-pleased. ” He can refuse nothing to the merits of the offering of this Victim. If we had faith, we should see God hidden in the priest like a light behind a glass, like wine mingled with water.”
- from a Cathechesis on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
As mentioned in a previous post, I’ll pay some attention to the great plans that Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo has revealed for the coming year in his archdiocese. The text of the letter introducing and explaining the plans for a Year of the Eucharist can be found on the archdiocesan website.
The plans are not small. The section titled ‘Events and matters of general importance’ describes the preparation needed to be done in individual parishes and congregations. What I find striking is that the archbishop not only invites but also expects. “Every parish is expected to participate in this event along with their pastors, without exception”, he writes when discussing the opening of the Year of the Eucharist. As becomes clear from the tone of the rest of the letter, this is an example of the vital importance the archbishop attaches to the Eucharist and the liturgy that revolves around it. In the opening paragraphs of the letter he writes [emphases mine]:
“The Eucharistic Lord sustains the universal Church, and strengthens it so that it could withstand any evil onslaught from both within and without. This is effected by means of our intimate communion with Him. Each time we receive Him, in a state of grace, He draws us into His act of self-oblation; absorbs us unto Himself, and transforms us into His own likeness. That is the life-giving principle of the most Holy Eucharist. The Church is thus powerfully transformed and becomes the continuous presence of Christ in history. Each local Church participating in this mystical heavenly food becomes part of that supreme presence.”
Another very interesting element in the letter is the connection between the Eucharist and our reception and worship with the wider world and our role in it. That is something not often read in publications that chiefly discuss the Eucharist or the Blessed Sacrament.
“I very earnestly request all priests, religious and the laity to combine devotion with animation to show our love for the poor and the less fortunate people in our society by engaging in works of corporal mercy. Let our love extend not only to the poor people, but also towards mother nature so that our Eucharistic spirituality would incorporate also an eco-spirituality. Let us not forget that the bread which becomes the body of Christ, and the wine which becomes the Blood of Christ are God’s gifts and fruits of the earth’s fertility which are produced as food through human labour.”
The better part of the second chapter of the letter, the part titled ‘Specific goals’, is then devoted the eliminating misconceptions, faulty practices and ignorance of the Eucharist – something not unknown to us in the west, to put it mildly. And all this in the vein of Vatican II, which is the opposite of the misappropriated ‘spirit of Vatican II’ that has lead to ignorance, protestantisation, loss of faith here in the west.
I think that this big effort undertaken in the Archdiocese of Colombo can also be inspirational and educational for Catholics, clergy and laity alike, who live outside its borders.
It doesn’t seem that I missed a whole lot in my week-long absence from the Internet, at least not when it comes to Catholic news in the Netherlands. Everyone still seems upset with the whole Fr. Vlaar business, even though the measures taken by Bishop Punt seem clear: a month at a convent or abbey, followed by another month doing some other work, before the question of Fr. Vlaar’s return to Obdam becomes an issue again.
The media devote much time and space to the issue (something reflected in a fairly consistent increase in the page views of my blog, too). The Protestant newspaper ‘Reformatorisch Dagblad’ publishes an interview with various people about the question of why things have gone so far as we have seen in Obdam (and which we also see elsewhere). One of those people in Bishop Jos Punt of Haarlem-Amsterdam. The interviewer asked him about a point raised in the bishop’s (clumsily translated) letter to the faithful in his diocese: “Frankly speaking I was very surprised and disappointed that the faithful do not spontaneously apprehend/understand that this goes way too far.”
Bishop Punt elucidates:
“In my opinion it is connected to the secularisation which has taken place in the past decades in the Netherlands. We have placed ourselves and our needs and desires in the centre of attention. God has become at most a function of ourselves. What does He mean to me? What do I get out of faith? If He is able to increase our happiness, we are willing to let Him into our lives. But if not, we part ways.
“That God is alive and that we were created in His image and owe our existence to Him, that awareness has strongly weakened. Apparently the Church failed in her duty to raise people in the truths of the faith [I'll say...]. This makes it pertinent for us to find new ways to bring the reality of God and His purpose with our lives powerfully to people’s attention. They no longer know who He is. They don’t know Him anymore. They have lost sight of Him.”
Like any society, the Dutch one is pluriform. There are generalities, but the individualistic nature of modern western society has enlarged the individuality that is already present in modern man; their unique person, their customs, habits and priorities. To generalise will therefore never do complete justice to the situation. However, I do believe Bishop Punt is correct when he makes the above sweeping statements about the Church in the Netherlands.
In a recent discussion in the chat room at SQPN.com, Fr. Roderick Vonhögen explained about the situation in the Netherlands regarding liturgical abuses. A mainly international audience such as the one at SQPN, while undoubtedly aware of abuses, generally has no full sense of the extent of the problem. Fr. Roderick said that the situation is 100 times worse than it is in the United States, and I don’t think he is wrong.
Bishop Punt’s raising of new ways to educate people is indeed pertinent. At the moment the Church does not succeed in that. Existing methods gather to a minority of existing Catholics and are invisible beyond the Church. Faith education must be lifelong (since we never stop learning and growing closer to (or further away from) God), thorough, consistent and suited to modern society and modern people. That does not mean denying the truths of the faith in order to achieve that. But truths that are at right angles to modern life must be stated forcefully, not softly whispered.
In that context, the above statements from the bishop are a start. A good start, perhaps, but just a start nonetheless.