The Cardinal Archbishop of Utrecht rules out the possibility of a schism within the Church.
Newsroom (September 24, 2020 8:00pm Gaudium Press) Why is a country like Holland on the verge of losing its faith? Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, examines this question in a book “God lives in the Netherlands”, written in collaboration with Andrea Galli. In his column Settimo Cielo, Sandro Magister discusses some of the statements in this work.
Magister also wonders how a nation with a flourishing Catholicism in the 1960s (12 percent of Catholic missionaries worldwide were Dutch) could possibly reach the present situation: out of a population of 17 million people, only 3 and a half declare themselves Catholic; and out of these only 150 thousand go to mass on Sundays.
The questions – and of course the answers – interest a great number of people given the widespread nature of this phenomenon in many parts of the world.
Parliamentary majority… until 1967
Cardinal Eijk notes that the Catholic and Protestant parties had a majority until 1967. In the 80’s they merged into the CDA, which became the main political force. The CDA, however, occupied only a third of the seats in parliament.
Today the CDA only holds 27 seats out of 150, and is a secularized party.
At the root of the de-Christianization of his country, Cardinal Eijk places a crisis of faith within the Church.
“One of the intentions of the Vatican Council II was for the Church to open up to society, which it did, but society for its part has not opened up to the Church. On the contrary, it has expelled it from public life. The Church then fell into one of the deepest faith crises in its history and today is not in the best position to transmit the faith to society. Many lay people and pastors are confused about the contents of the faith. Only after putting its own house in order will the Church once again be truly capable of evangelizing the world” says the Cardinal.
The Cardinal had pointed out that at the root of the loss of faith there is also a hyper-individualistic world; a world in which man does not need something that transcends him, such as the recognition of a Supreme Being, or a Church that connects him to God. Seemingly, according to the Dutch Cardinal, this absence of faith, fruit of individualism, has also infected the Church.
When asked about about the possibility of schism, he says, Many speak of the danger of a schism, but I think not. I rather think that what has already happened with us in Holland will happen in many parts of the world. There has been a silent healing through the turnover of generations. […] Because who will ultimately remain in the Church? The priests and laity of ’68, of those years of disarray, with ultra-progressive ideas, are almost gone. In Holland there are still those who believe, who pray, who have a personal relationship with Christ.”
According to the Cardinal, this remnant constitutes the seed from which faith will be broadly restored.