Church to be creatively active or to revise its laws in the tempo and with the courage which are necessary today."
Answering the chaplains' statement that they wished to continue a dialogue with their bishop in some way or other, even if they went outside the Church, Bishop Zwartkruis said he would not be the one to end any dialogue. But he made it clear that the chaplains would put themselves outside the Church if they went ahead with their decision.
"I believe in pluriformity and I take the current criticisms of the Church very seriously. I have a positive view on certain forms, in which the law on celibacy is withdrawn.
"I even believe that the conflict can serve the welfare of the Church (as it can do damage), but I state with as much conviction as possible that one local church can do nothing without the other local church." The row in Holland over priestly celibacy has been pending for a long time, and Fr. Vrijburg's declared intention of marrying and continuing as a priest merely brings the issue to a head.
Several other priests in student parishes in Utrecht and Leyden have made similar "declarations of intent". With few exceptions it appears that the Dutch Catholic community is opposed to the chaplains' proposals to break with the official Church.
The former SecretaryGeneral of the Ecumenical Council said this week that Council members agreed with Pope Paul on the need for retaining priestly celibacy in the Western Church. Answering anti celibacy statements in l'Osservatore Romano by priests in various countries, Cardinal Felici said the Pope's 1967 Encyclical on Celibacy "repeats, explains, illustrates and singles out the principles laid down by the Council."
He said it was "hard to believe" someone should try to contrast the Council's stand with that of the Pope. He cited from Council records and speeches of the late Pope John to show support for celibacy.