Dutch welcome Pope, but critics rule out reform

20th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — Echoing global sentiment, the Netherlands has welcomed the appointment of German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to replace the late Pope John Paul II, but some critics are concerned that he will be too conservative.

20 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — Echoing global sentiment, the Netherlands has welcomed the appointment of German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to replace the late Pope John Paul II, but some critics are concerned that he will be too conservative.

Ratzinger was elected head of the Roman Catholic Church in a fourth round of voting on Tuesday. Appearing a short time later on a balcony overlooking St Peter's Square, he called himself a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.

Choosing the name Pope Benedict XVI, his was to celebrate his first Mass as Pope in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel on Wednesday. He will be inaugurated as the 265th pope on Sunday.

Dutch Cardinal Adrianus Simonis said he was "immensely pleased" with the choice of Ratzinger, stressing that the German stood for "a church of justice and peace and of modesty and humility".

The choice for the name Benedict signifies that Ratzinger wants to follow in the steps of Benedict XV, who valiantly tried to prevent the outbreak of World War I. The name also calls to mind Saint Benedict, the "founder of European culture", Simonis said.

Admitting he was "exceptionally surprised" by the speed with which Ratzinger was appointed, Simonis said "the Holy Ghost must have been busy".

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he hoped Ratzinger will continue the policy of John Paul II by seeking dialogue with other religions, combating poverty and campaigning for democracy and social justice.

Queen Beatrix sent a telegram to congratulate the new Pope, wishing him strength to carry out his pontificate, the Government Information Service (RVD) said.

Dutch bishops are "delighted" with Ratzinger as Pope, saying he is a great theologian who played a prominent role in the second Vatican Council (1962-65) which sparked major reform in the Catholic Church.

These reforms transformed the liturgy into everyday language and stimulated dialogue between the Catholic Church and other churches and religions.

The general secretary of the Dutch Protestant Church PKN, Bas Plaisier, said Ratzinger's election did not inspire hope of inter-faith dialogue, pointing to a Vatican statement in 2000 declaring the Catholic Church to be the only true church.

But Plaisier welcomed the fact that Ratzinger is aware of modern-day problems in the church and society.
 
The Dutch representative in the international Catholic reform movement We Are Church said hard times loom for reformers. Isaac Wüst said the appointment of Ratzinger will extend the exclusion of women from leading positions in the church.

Dutch gay lobby group COC said Ratzinger's election was a "missed chance", pointing out that Ratzinger was commissioned by the Vatican in 2003 to write a guideline to try and to convince national governments that gay marriages are a a threat to creation.

COC is concerned Ratzinger will not deviate from the conservative social policies the Vatican has espoused to date.
 
The director of the Dutch HIV Association, Robert Witlox, said the new Pope will not help the prevention of AIDS. "He is an advocate for a ban on condoms. That is a shame and regrettable," he said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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