'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."
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."
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.