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Report of the Netherlands (2003-2005)

At the general assembly of the International Federation Una Voce by the Society Ecclesia Dei Delft (October 8th and 9th 2005).

The Netherlands is a small country with about 16.000.000 inhabitants of which about 30% has been baptised in the Roman Catholic Church. The Sunday Mass attendance is less then 10%.

The formal policy of the Dutch Bishops has been founded on a very narrow-minded interpretation of the 1984 Indult without taking into account the appeal by the Pope in 1988 and repeated in 1998, for a wide and generous attitude to the rightful wish of faithful and priests. Practically, it appears even worse and the traditional Latin rite is suppressed in a number of dioceses by the refusal of permissions, or by putting such conditions on a permission that it cannot be realised. Also in general, when a diocese priest, after passing several barriers, finally gets permission - orally only -, he is strictly forbidden to celebrate in public the H. Mass according to the liturgical books of 1962.

This situation has been made worse because the parish boards own the churches in the Netherlands. That is why the bishop cannot point out freely a church for the Traditional Latin Mass without the last word of the parish board, who owns that church. Furthermore, the Church income is a subject of gifts from the faithful on parish level and the dioceses are fully dependent on the parish payments. That makes even the well willing bishops tied and a subject to blackmail by unwilling parish boards and/or priests. So a number of parish boards and priests threaten their Bishops by blocking the parish payments as well as going into a schism, taking the parish faithful into a kind of hostage.

The bishops has to do here with a group of priests, mostly ordained in the 1960's and 1970's, and faithful, like members of the parish boards, sacristans and pastoral co-workers who are well organised by an underground network and extremely intolerant to all orthodox and traditional priests and faithful.

Moreover, due to the very restrict number of priests, a lot of these older priests are a part of the diocese boards too and took a large influence on the official diocese policy. Therefore the bishops are not only tied, in fact they are more or less taken into custody and we cannot blame the present bishops for that. Pray for them, that their chains will be unlocked soon.

In practice you can also find situations at which unwilling parish boards obstruct the good willing priests and good willing boards, which are blackmailed by unwilling priests.

As a consequence the well willing priests are obstructed to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass in public. That is also expressed by one of the young parish priests, who gave evidence that among the young priests a longing is present to the old high sacred Liturgy.

In the Netherlands the traditional Latin rite according to the liturgical books of 1962 is allowed regularly only at three locations. Two locations are allowed by Mgr. Muskens, Bishop of Breda, in the southwest of the Netherlands: in Breda once a month and in Flushing twice a month. The third location is in the west of the Netherlands and every Sunday the Mass is permitted by Mgr. Van Luijn, Bishop of Rotterdam, in Delft, an old city between Rotterdam and The Hague. In 1998 due to the intervention of Angelo Cardinal Felici the Delft location could be continued for all Sundays and High Feasts. Also as a consequence of the Felici intervention since 1998, Mgr. Van Luijn offered the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) a written agreement by which this Fraternity is responsible for the H. Mass and other Sacraments at the Delft location. The parish board of the Delft location argued the refusal on the request to use one of their three parish churches for the traditional Latin Liturgy according the Indult by the bishop of Rotterdam that the Society Ecclesia Dei Delft is considered as schismatic to the Catholic Church in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, the Bishop of Rotterdam does not intend to allow celebrating the Traditional Latin Liturgy at any other location outside Delft. Also a permission for only a yearly H. Mass at the National Shrine of the H. Martyrs of Gorkum at Brielle (19 Martyrs during the Reformation, 1572) has been refused

The board of the seminary of the diocese Den Bosch took disciplinary measures against seminarians, who sometimes visited one of the H. Masses according to the traditional Latin liturgy allowed by an indult of the local Bishop, as if it was a crime. Due to this some of these seminarians left. Furthermore, it is known that one of them turned to the SSPX and has been ordained there in 2005.

The foundation Ecclesia Dei Delft has made a lot of efforts in renewing and updating the website (http://www.ecclesiadei.nl) giving objective information about the traditional Latin liturgy, the reform of the reform and other scientific studies on liturgy of the last decades.

After the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to Pope Benedictus XVI a number of parish boards and priests and some priestly diocese board members, as well as religious orders in the Netherlands were informed about the website by several electronic mailings of the monthly information bulletin, especially about a number of citations of Pope Benedictus XVI.

In the Summer 2005 the foundation wrote to all Dutch Bishops informing them about the reform of the reform and asking them for an informal meeting to discuss possibilities on structural solutions on the matter of the traditional Latin liturgy. Until now one bishop gave a positive reply, one reacted negatively, and the other bishops did not respond at all. For those bishops who did not reply a second letter was sent in mid-September

Also in the summer, the foundation Ecclesia Dei Delft proposed an informal meeting with the Dutch Latin Mass Society. We hoped for a breakthrough from its narrow-minded opinions to a more wide and generous attitude at which a kind of cooperation could be possible, especially after the election of Pope Benedictus XVI. Until now, after about three months, they have not answered our proposal. Probably an internal discussion has been started, by which such a delay can be explained. Since 1972 the Dutch Latin Mass Society restricted itself for the use of Latin in the Novus Ordo Missae only.

Society Ecclesia Dei Delft
October 3th 2005,
Ir. J.P Oostveen (chairman)