Sunday, February 02, 2014

Cardinal blocks visit of Pope

The script was ready, the security was arranged and money
was not the problem. Pope Francis had actually only had to say when he would
come to Amsterdam. "Invite me out”, the Pope said last autumn l during a
private audience with Bishop Jos Point Haarlem - Amsterdam.

However, that invitation never followed. A visit of the Pope
to the Netherlands was stopped by Cardinal Wim Eijk. Sources close to the Dutch
Bishops' Conference confirm this. The Cardinal feared a lack of enthusiasm for
the Pope among the Dutch public.

On the autumn of 2013, Bishop Point presented his fellow
bishops detailed plans for a one-day Papal visit to Amsterdam. This was to include
in the programme a service at the Amsterdam Arena. In the Conference of Bishops'
meeting last month, Cardinal Eijk said however: "The Holy Father and I
have decided that it cannot go forward." The spokeswoman for the bishops'
conference confirms this state of affairs.

In the middle of "spiritual periphery”

Bishop Punt is "surprised and disappointed" about
the ricochet of the Pope's visit, says Eric Fennis general secretary of the
Diocese of Haarlem - Amsterdam. "From the entourage of Pope Francis, there
were clear signs that there were opportunities". The Pope would even find Amsterdam
to be a very suitable destination being the middle of the "spiritual
periphery”. During the visit in 1985 of Pope John Paul II to Netherlands
Amsterdam was just aware about beaten.

When Cardinal Eijk mid last month in Rome paid a personal
visit to Pope Francis, they would have decided that a Papal visit to the
Netherlands was not feasible. However, insiders have told this newspaper that a
visit to Amsterdam was never discussed by Eijk and the pope. The spokesman for
the Cardinal cannot say what has been or is discussed, because it is

Keep trying
Bishop Punt of Haarlem - Amsterdam suffers another defeat on
this matter. In 2001 he tried in vain to get Pope John Paul II to come to the Netherlands.
 General Secretary, Fennis says: "The
Pope then reacted positively, but of course he was already old and in poor

Now that a visit by Francis does not go through, Bishop Punt
is by no means discouraged, says Fennis.  "It is in the nature of the bishop to
keep trying. When he returns to Rome, he will let the Pope know how enthusiastically
friend and foe has reacted to the mere rumour of a visit."


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