Wish not granted – a multifunctional building instead of a real church for Lutselus

In January of last year, I wrote about Joey Wolfs, the 13-year-old altar server who started a petition to prevent a multifunctional centre replacing the church that collapsed on Christmas Eve 2010 in Lutselus, Diocese of Hasselt, Belgium. In an interview at the time, Joey said:

Lutselus needs a new church. A real one. Not one of those multifunctional things where there’s a Mass in the morning, a meeting of the elderly in the afternoon, and a youth gathering in the evening. You can’t be dancing between pulpit, baptismal font and altar, right? In a place where just before Our Lord was a guest?”

By the end of this year, the first stone for that new church could be laid, but sadly, it will not be the proper church that Joey and many others desired. Rorate reports that the new building, which is dubbed a “prayer space” instead of a church, “will be able to be changed into a multifunctional space. This will prove useful should there be a day when the church can no longer be used as such.”

The places we use for our worship have their influence on the way we worship. A church will do so differently than a meeting hall which was converted to meet the most basic needs for a community of faithful. In the secularised countries of western Europe the Church has need of proper churches for the new evangelisation. Multifunctional centres will not do that trick.

Photo credit: The church immediately after the collapse. REM

A long expected appointment

Bishop elect Jan Hendriks in the courtyard of the Tiltenberg seminary

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

Father Cor Mennen had better look out… perhaps

Fr. Cor Mennen

It’s probably a good time to think about going to bed, but I just came across a piece of text which simply begs for a fisking. The text was published at Rorate, a Catholic (this is important) news collection site which has the annoying habit of not citing sources or even authors. One can only assume that they either approve or are indifferent about the text in question.

Rorate is a Dutch website, so I’ll use an translation of the text.

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Pink roses for Father Cor Mennen

OSS (RKnieuws.net) – During the traditional Mad Tuesday fair in Oss, which will be held this year on the 24th of August, five hundred pink roses will be offered to Father Cor Mennen, the Gay Krant reports this week.

Cor Mennen became known nationally as the censor of songs sung in the Roman Catholic Church. He banned many of the songs by Huub Oosterhuis, very popular among the faithful. [No, he did not. As a censor, Fr. Mennen advises. It is the bishops who act upon that advice as they please. So far they have not banned anything. Also: this is completely unrelated to the rest of the article.]

Mennen was also in the news because he went back on his own bishop, who, in Mennen’s opinion, was far too yielding during the so-called host-riot in Reusel and Den Bosch [That again? I thought that storm had abated after media-hungry protester had had their day in the sun]. Mennen called the faithful gays and their supporters [read ‘irreverent protesters’], who had come to the episcopal St. John [we call that a cathedral] with an appeal [a disgraceful and loudmouthed protest], the ‘Amsterdam gay mafia’ [with reason. It was a by-the-book setup, organised by the Gay Krant and certain politicans, abusing grievances they do not understand, or even wish to understand].

Cor Strik, organiser of Mad Tuesday, will have five hundred visitors of this fair deliver pink roses to the Grote Kerk, where Mennen is the shepherd [what’s with the stupid terms? He’s the parish priest]. Strik hopes that many people will also bring roses and pink toy animals themselves [Is this a trend? Why do the organisers of such ‘protests’ always use others to do their dirty work for them? Can’t they find enough people who really have grievances? It’s just an excuse to have a media circus. Then again, the man does organise fairs…].

“You should see this as a gesture of love [Ha!] and an invitation to Mennen to enter into dialogue with homosexuals.” [A dialogue about what? Father Mennen specifically has been very clear about what the Church believes and teaches regarding homosexuality. That won’t be changing].

In a press release, the Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch [Fr. Mennen is not the diocese, or even the bishop] itself expressed the desire for such a dialogue, but despite several attempts from the Gay Krant and the COC it remains quite in the bishop’s palace. “We choose compassion [or intimidation], not an argument”, Strik tells the Gay Krant.

During the floral tribute [Oh, it’s suddenly not an attempt at enforcing ‘dialogue’?] an aubade will also be delivered to Mennen and other Church leaders [An aubade, Wikipedia tells us, is a song or poem about lovers separating at dawn, or generally involving daybreak… what?]

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Perhaps Fr. Mennen can start running a flower stand. You know, as a source of extra income. I’m sure he can find a use for some extra cash in his parish.

The ‘gay mafia’ to use but a phrase, gets clarity about the Church’s teachings, as a foundation for further dialogue. Said dialogue is supposed to be with the diocese. Despite silence from said diocese, the reasons of which are unknown to me, they return to the man who was one of their opponents in the initial media debate. And they offer him pink roses. What will this accomplish. Media attention, of course. The Church in a bad light, unless Father Mennen comes up with a cunning plan (or hardly anyone shows up to do Strik’s work for him…). What it won’t do is further the dialogue. On the contrary.

In Lyon, France, young Catholic faithful successfully prevented a protest by homosexual activists. It’s probably wishful thinking that the same will happen in Oss, but one can hope…

Rumours of a new bishop for Namur

Msgr. Rémy Vancottem, to be the new ordinary bishop of Namur

At Dutch Catholic news website Rorate I read an announcement that a new bishop has been announced for the Belgian Diocese of Namur. Of course, said website offers no sources or links to other websites, and merely states that the official announcement will be made at noon today. One can only guess where. I have been unable to find any confirmation of it on the official websites of the Church in Belgium. It’s quite annoying that a website like Rorate, which presents itself as a news source, limits itself to just stating such bare facts (if they are facts). I would have liked a bit more information, if only to find out where I can read or see the noon announcement.

Anyway, if true, it is of course welcome news for Namur, which has been vacant since Bishop André-Mutien Léonard became Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard if Malines-Brussels in January of this year. Namur has been headed by a diocesan administrator, Msgr. Jean-Marie Huet, since then. The diocese also has an Auxiliary Bishop, Msgr. Pierre Warin. Either of them could be appointed as the new diocesan bishop, or the choice could be for any other cleric from within or without the diocese. It will be interesting to see who it is and how he will compare to Msgr. Léonard.

Anyway, more at noon today.

EDIT: Well, it’s past noon, and the name is known. The new bishop of Namur will be Msgr. Remy Vancottem, until now Auxiliary Bishop for Brabant Wallon in the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels. For the archdiocese this appointment means that there are now two vacant auxiliary sees instead available: a mere relocation of the problem. Belgium is still expecting two more new bishops: an ordinary for Bruges and now two new auxiliaries for Malines-Brussels.

I’ll devote a proper blog post to Bishop Vancottem tonight.