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GRONINGEN, Netherlands (ChurchMilitant.com) - Bishop Gerard de Korte has withdrawn his permission for a prayer service scheduled for a local gay pride parade known as "Pink Saturday."
In a June 15 letter announcing the decision the bishop said:
Until today, priests and other believers have protested against keeping the prayer service in St. John. I must note that, before the celebration is held, the religious sentiments of many Catholics have been deeply touched. For them, the cathedral constitutes the symbol of our diocese, and they do not believe that the peacefulness of the celebration can be guaranteed. This state of affairs is grave. Indeed, I cannot hurt the conscience of believers and will not offend my brothers and sisters.
Previously, when the prayer service was scheduled to happen, Bp. de Korte had remarked, "We want to show that everyone is welcome. ... It is a great honor and a wonderful sign of joining that the ecumenical prayer celebration should take place this time in the cathedral basilica."
Roze Zaterdag's page, describing the prayer service, reads, "We are inspired by the story of Moses at the burning bush." The website goes on, "God makes Himself known in this story by the name I-Will-Be-There. Anytime, anywhere, for you, for everyone. The celebration is room for joy, gratitude and hope, but also pain, impotence and struggle. These are interconnected and the party for everyone."
Previous years' Roze Zaterdag festivals have included the same trappings as gay pride parades around the world: public nudity, S&M costumes and drag queens, among other things. Bishop de Korte's blessing presumably would've covered all of this.
The Netherlands is one of the most secularized states in Europe. A 2015 Gallup International poll found that the Netherlands was second only to Hong Kong in the number of non-religious and atheists in their population, coming in with a 66 percent secular population. Catholics make up less than 12 percent, and among Dutch Catholics, Mass attendance was at 5 percent as of 2013.
In an interview with Vatican Radio in 2013, Cdl. Wim Eijk, who is known for orthodoxy, cited projections by the Dutch government that Islam would become the country's second largest religion by 2020. In 2010, an organization called the Future of Religious Heritage also reported that, at the time, the rate of church closures were two a week and that 150 of the then 170 monasteries would be closed by 2020.
The Netherlands is on the leading edge of all assaults against life and family. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize so-called "same-sex marriage" in April 2001, two years before Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize it. On euthanasia, again, the Netherlands was the first country to introduce the practice in 2002 and since then has only seen increases in people opting to kill themselves. These include 650 babies a year killed under the country's euthanasia law.
As recently as January, Bp. de Korte met with his lawyer to discuss filing a lawsuit against the company that filmed a sex act in St. Joseph's Church in Tilburg. The church's pastor, Fr. Jan van Noorwegen, said, "That's not the right place. I do not know how they got in; the gate is only open a few hours a day." Father van Noorwegen went on to say, "But then there are always people in the church. No one saw anything."