Flying Dutchman WHILE the newspapers continue their "look-what-I've
found out about the naughty Church in Holland" articles which tell you nothing, a man who knows the whole story slipped in and out of London unnoticed by the publicists this week.
Bishop Zwartkruis of Haarlem did a personal fly-in for the Low Week ("soft drinks only") party at Cardinal Heenan's house.
He thinks the said articles are somewhat hysterical. "Nobody in Holland," he says, "even thinks of schism_ The plain fact is that we have an excellent press and television network and therefore all our activities get maximum publicity. Everything that happens gets into the news, especially the unusual things.
"But the Church in Holland is alive. Our churches are packed on Sundays. We have between 13,000 and 15,000 discussion groups which are studying the Decrees of the Vatican Council. That means about a quarter of a million people are concerned in finding out what is the job of the Church in our day.
"When you get that amount of interest you are bound to have some people running faster than others. That's not because they want to leave the Church. They just want to push ahead," What about all those liturgical high jinks? Bishop Zwartkruis says they have to be considered in their proper context. "In Holland, even before the Council, we had reached the point which other countries have now arrived at," he says. "Mass facing the people is nothing new to us.
"Very soon we hope to get approval for the Canon in Dutch. We use all sorts of music, from the more traditional to our 'Youth Masses' which include negro spirituals and rhythmic music which the young people sometimes accompany with clapping.
"But we don't forget the older people. For them we have Masses entirely in Latin. In any case, I believe in variety."
At the end of this month the Bishop plans to announce his new Pastoral Council. "This," he says, "will be completely democratic with a membership of One hundred people. Obviously they will not directly rule the diocese, but there will be real consultation.
"If you have a proper understanding of authority you cannot ignore other people's i opinions. As a bishop one is part of the People of God. You can't just say 'I'm going my own way'," The first questions Bishop Zwartkruis plans to put to the Pastoral Council concern the age of confirmation and the extension of Mass in the home.
He plans to "break through the parish system" by forming what he calls "pastoral units" of seven or eight priests who work as a team and live together in a block of flats, with their own personal apartments.
in each team there would be specialists in. say, youth work, social welfare and some other field and the Bishop hopes that the old parish priest-curate mentality will go; he calls it the "boss and messenger boy set-up."
He has a plan too for "flying curates," a species of ecclesiastical troubleshooters who will be attached to three or four one-priest parishes each. If the parish priest does not feel up to doing a certain job himself, he will be able to call upon one of the these younger priests.
Surprisingly, the Sjaloom groups which have alarmed so many people in England don't seem to bother the Dutch bishops. "Their idea," Bishop Zwartkruis says, "is quite right. They aim to spread love and charity among all Christians." He points out that their Agapes are as old as the Church itself.