Dutch news in brief, Monday 2 February 2009

2nd February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.

Pope's "catastrophic decision"

The decision by Pope Benedict XVI to rehabilitate the ultra-conservative British Bishop Robert Williamson continues to elicit reactions from Dutch Catholics, most of whom are none too happy with the Pope’s actions. On 24 January the Pope revoked the 1988 excommunication of Bishop Williamson and three other followers of the ultraconservative French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The archbishop was excommunicated after the Vatican accused him of creating a schism in the church. Pope Benedict’s rehabilitation sparked a great deal of indignation since Bishop Williamson has denied that the Nazis used gas chambers.

The Protestant daily Trouw quotes Rotterdam Bishop Ad van Luyn, who described the pope’s decision as "catastrophic". Bishop Van Luyn says the British bishop’s comments on the Holocaust are "scandalous and totally lacking historical accuracy". The left-wing de Volkskrant, a former Catholic newspaper, leads with the headline "The pope has given up on Western Europe." In an interview, the leading Roman Catholic theologian Jean-Pierre Wils explains why he decided to leave the church last week. The paper asks the theologian: "For decades you have done research and taught at a faculty which is under the direct supervision of the Roman Catholic Church. All of a sudden you resign. What happened?"

Theologian "embarrassed to death"

"I was asked to give a speech last week at Leiden University on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day. While I was preparing the text all of the commotion started concerning the Pope’s rehabilitation of the Piux X movement. And about one member of the club, Bishop Williamson… He said the gas chambers were only used as a disinfection room…I gave the speech to survivors of Auschwitz, and I was embarrassed to death. I realised that I could no longer remain a member of the Catholic Church without losing my self-respect." Mr Wils says he has no more illusions about the church. He agrees with a recent statement by his former teacher, theologian Hans Küng, that the Pope is the Bush of the Catholic Church. "I suspect that the church has given up on Western Europe. Here most of the church’s followers are Catholic in name only. The group that still believes in the ideals of the Second Vatican Council, in a modern and liberal church, is slowly dying out."

Sacked housing director drove in a Maserati

AD writes that the director of the Rochdale housing corporation, Hubet Möllenkamp, has been fired for abusing his position. "An internal investigation shows that Mollenkamp awarded himself bonuses, salary increases and an extra pension. He also drove around in an expensive Maserati." Mr Mollenkamp says he was "greatly shocked and surprised" by the investigation, since his salary was not a secret and appeared in the corporation’s annual report. "Two years ago I drove in a Maserati for five or six weeks, which I admit was foolish." The director had been suspended from his position in October after it was reported in the media that he had attempted to sell an apartment complex without consulting the board, and had offered to lend the buyers 8 million euros from the housing corporation’s funds. Rochdale’s Board of Directors says it will decide whether to press charges when it receives the results of another investigation into real estate transactions.

Netherlands smart on drugs

An American organisation has proposed that the Netherlands "be made a candidate for the Nobel Prize because of its policy on drugs." The free newspaper Spits writes that: "According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws the Netherlands has demonstrated that it is cheaper, more humane and more practical to be smart on drugs than to crack down on them." The organisation praised the Netherlands for "saving many lives over the past thirty years" through its policy of regulating drug use instead of criminalising users. The paper reports that the US War on Drugs has led to an incarceration rate which is six times that of the Netherlands and a murder rate which is four times as high.

Environmentally unfriendly coffeepot-cleaning

Socialist Party city councillors in The Hague are up in arms over the environmentally unfriendly coffeepot-cleaning policies of the municipality. De Telegraaf reports that the party has asked Mayor Jozias van Aartsen to explain why bleaching tablets are used to clean the municipal coffeepots, in direct violation of the city’s promise to use only environmentally friendly products. The Socialist Party has asked the city council to see to it that all cleaning products containing bleach be placed on the blacklist immediately.

A councillor for the conservative VVD party fulminated: "Now civil servants will be put to work, the city council will meet about the issue and piles of paper will again be wasted."

Radio Netherlands/Frank Scimone/Exptaica

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