Dutch tributes, sadness for 'greatest ever' Pope

4th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

4 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — As Catholics across the globe mourned the death of Pope John Paul II, churches, religious leaders and politicians in the Netherlands expressed their sympathies and praised the Pope for bridging the gulf between the world's various faiths.

4 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — As Catholics across the globe mourned the death of Pope John Paul II, churches, religious leaders and politicians in the Netherlands expressed their sympathies and praised the Pope for bridging the gulf between the world's various faiths.

John Paul II died in his private apartment on Saturday night after a long illness, aged 84. His body is being transferred to St Peter's Basilica on Monday afternoon for public viewings.

Cardinals met on Monday and decided that the funeral will be held on Friday at 10am. They will also vote on a replacement for the Polish-born Pope in 15 to 20 days.

Hundreds of Dutch nationals had placed condolences on the internet by Sunday night and hundreds more are planning to attend the Pope's funeral in Rome.

"For me, he was as much loved as my own family," said the rector of Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk in Amsterdam, Christian van der Ploeg, who was ordained by the Pope in 1988 as a priest. "I never spoke with him again personally after that, but I saw him many times in Rome."
Cardinal Adrianus Simonis, the Archbishop of Utrecht, described the Pope as an "astonishing and admirable man — an indefatigable champion of human dignity and human rights". The cardinal also said the Pope would be remembered in history as one of the greatest Popes ever.

A large number of people admired the leader of the Catholic Church for the strength of his faith. "I wish that I had the faith of John Paul II," said the papal ambassador (nuncio) in the Netherlands, Frenchman Monsignor François Bacqué.

"He was a great champion of liberty and justice, a great intellectual, a poet, sportsman, voice of the poor and guardian of the church doctrine. He was so much," Bacqué said.

The Dutch Protestant Church (PKN) said the pontiff was "an important pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church" and expressed its sympathies to the Dutch bishops' conference

But PKN secretary Bas Plaisier was critical of the Catholic Church's attitude towards Protestant Churches under the leadership of John Paul II. "The Roman Catholic Church still has difficulties in the highest echelons to view Protestants as equal partners in the ecumenicity," he said.

Mosque organisations Milli Gürüs Noord-Nederland and the Unie van Marokkaanse Moskeeën (Amstedam and surrounds) said the Pope was a beacon in the dialogue between the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths.
The spokesman for the Dutch-Israeli Church Society, Ruben Vis, said the Pope contributed more than any other Pope to the conciliation of the Catholic Church and the Jewish faith.   

Queen Beatrix has sent a telegram of condolences to the Vatican in Rome, while Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said the Pope was "human in his approach, superhuman in his sense of responsibility". He added further that the Pope had "sowed peace and harvested love".

Christian Democrat CDA leader Maxime Verhagen said the death of John Paul II brings an end to a memorable era. Populist LPF leader Mat Herben, himself a Catholic, said the Pope contributed more to a free Europe than any other post-World War II politician.

Dutch residents can express their sympathies at various places across the country. Written condolences are being accepted in Den Bosch, where the bishopric will send them on to the Vatican.

Den Bosch Bishop Antonius Hurkmans met the Pope on several occasions and upon news of his death, prayed for John Paul II in his private chapel.
Hundreds of people expressed their thoughts and feelings on the internet on Sunday, while travel bureau D-Reizen said it took hundreds of bookings from people wanting to fly to Rome in time for the Pope's funeral.

The nunciature (papal ambassador) in The Hague is offering people the chance to sign an official register for three days, starting on Monday.

Nuncio Bacqué will hold a special mass together with Dutch bishops in honour of the Pope on 12 April in the church of the St. Paschalis Baylon in The Hague. The Pope was already praised in the church on Sunday.

A requiem mass was held on Sunday in the Munsterkerk — which is serving as a bishops church due to the restoration of the cathedral — in Roermond.

Polish parishes in the Netherlands also honoured the passing of John Paul II, as some 150 people held a prayer march in Maastricht on Saturday night. About a 1,000 Polish gathered in Horst-Meterik in Limburg to honour the Pope. They laid red and white flowers — the colour of the Polish flag — on the altar of the local church.

Dutch bishops will send a letter to all parishes on Monday with instructions on bell tolling and the flying of flags. Suggestions on commemorative services will also be included in the letter.

Parishes must toll their heavy bells at 8pm for five minutes on the evening prior to the Pope's funeral. On the day of the funeral itself, 15 minutes of bell tolling will occur 30 minutes prior to the start of the funeral service.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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