Dutch Bishop Refuses to Attend October Youth Synod in Rome

by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 20, 2018   

Bp. Robertus Mutsaerts challenges Pope Francis over sex abuse cover-up

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'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Dutch bishop is refusing to take part in the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment scheduled for October 3–28 in Rome.

Bishop Robertus Mutsaerts, auxiliary of the southern Dutch diocese of 's-Hertogenbosch, has notified Pope Francis in an open letter that he will not be attending the synod in light of the crisis of clerical sex abuse and cover-up.

"The release of the letter of Archbishop Viganò has opened the eyes of many," Bp. Mutsaerts told the Pontiff. "It appears that the crimes of Theodore McCarrick and the double life he led for many years, were made possible because of the cover up by several high prelates in the United States of America as well as in Rome."

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Mutsaerts stated unequivocally the roots of the crisis are not "clericalism," as leftist U.S. bishops are suggesting. "The McCarrick file appears to be a symptom of a much larger crisis in the Church," he wrote, "where on a large scale the vow of celibacy by in particular homosexual clerics is ignored."

Continuing, the Dutch prelate took aim directly at Francis' handling of the crisis: "The credibility of the Church as a whole is at stake here. Excuses and mea culpas are not enough. A more fundamental approach is necessary. But this is extremely difficult when bishops are compromised and nearly impossible if the highest authority is involved when it comes to protecting McCarrick."

Viganò is a serious man. He makes serious allegations. Be open about that. But the Pope is silent.

Bishop Mutsaerts then pointed out the imprudence of holding a synod on youth in the midst of the worst Church crisis in centuries: "In these circumstances, I find it extremely difficult to be present at the Synod on the Youth October coming. How can we discuss matters concerning the youth, when not even the basic safety of the youth of our Church is safeguarded?"

Echoing calls by a handful of American prelates, Mutsaerts recommended the youth synod be postponed, and a synod on the sins of bishops be held instead:

This is why, Your Holiness, considering the sincerity of the circumstances, I propose to move the Synod on the Youth to a later date. Instead I propose to call together at short notice an Extraordinary Synod that thoroughly discusses and investigates the problems of the sexual abuse and the double lives of clerics in order to come to a credible, independent investigation of the past, and what measures could be taken to improve the spiritual climate.

"As long as this is not realized," he added, "it is in my opinion inappropriate to meet with You, Holy Father and with my fellow bishops on matters concerning young people as if there is nothing in between the young people and us and move on to business as usual."

"Hereby I announce ... that I will not take part in the coming synod in October," said Mutsaerts.

In an interview with Dutch newspaper Trouw on Wednesday, Mutsaerts articulated his objections to convening a synod on Catholic youth in October.

"For me personally, the credibility of the Church is at stake," he said. "We should not start talking about young people as bishops now. As if there is nothing between us and the youngsters. We must first clarify the scandals. Also the scandals that hit the Pope."
Mutsaerts blasted Francis' silence in the wake of Abp. Viganò's letter exposing his cover-up of McCarrick's crimes: "Viganò is a serious man. He makes serious allegations. Be open about that. But the Pope is silent. Perhaps the motives of Viganò are not completely pure, I do not know. But that's not what it's about. The point is: is it true what Viganò claims?"
Mutsaerts told Trouw that an independent investigation must be launched into allegations against the Pope: "Otherwise things will remain dormant. There must be a purification. I think it is really necessary. And that research must be truly independent. The researchers may all be atheists, as long as there are no bishops and priests, or other officials of the Church."


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