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(LifeSiteNews) — A Dutch bishop has praised Bishop Joseph Strickland for his outspoken defense of the faith, lamenting the contrasting tolerance shown toward heterodox bishops who publicly undermine Catholic doctrine.  

In an interview with InfoVaticana published in Spanish, Bishop Robert Mutsaerts, auxiliary bishop of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) in the Netherlands, lamented the present state of the Church and the confusion caused by Pope Francis. He criticized the homosexual “blessings” allowed by Fiducia Supplicans as contrary to Church teaching and a radical break with Tradition, and held up Bishop Strickland as an example of fidelity to Tradition. 

Asked about Strickland’s dismissal and the stark contrast with the way in which Rome has done “nothing” about German bishops who have spoken “against Catholic doctrine and morality,” Mutsaerts highlighted the harshness of the Pope’s treatment of the Texas bishop, saying: 

‘Everyone, everyone, everyone,’ says Pope Francis: everyone is welcome. All? It seems that an exception is made with the traditional ones. The tone of Traditionis Custodes is harsh. And how often are they called stiff, more outlandish terms? Request the Traditional Mass and you will be cancelled. A soft-spoken man like Bishop Strickland is one of many examples. The German and Belgian bishops who advocate again and again for changes in the doctrine and morals of the Church are treated with kindness. It marks the current pontificate.

READ: Bishop Strickland signs document requesting Pope Francis repeal Fiducia Supplicans 

In November, after Pope Francis removed Strickland from the Diocese of Tyler without a canonical procedure, Mutsaerts voiced indignation at the injustice against the faithful American bishop. At the time he wrote: 

Since the Pope is the highest authority, no appeal or defense is possible. A canonical procedure would be in order, though. It is extremely unusual to be deprived of a canonical procedure. These are methods we might expect to see in North Korea, or Rome in the days of Nero. It really seems as if there are no valid reasons. At the end of the day, Strickland holds traditional views and has criticized the way things are going at the Vatican now and then. That is apparently reason enough to sack him as Bishop of Tyler. Where is Rome now with its synodal Church, with the Church that listens, with The Church of Mercy? Rome is acting in total contradiction to what it is itself proclaiming.

Drawing a sharp contrast with the ignoring of grave abuses and scandals elsewhere in the Church, the Dutch bishop continued, “His dismissal is all the more puzzling when you take a look at the state of affairs elsewhere in the Church: there are bishops who have covered up sexual abuse – and look at the madness in Germany where people blatantly contradict directives from Rome; there are bishops who preach heresy. Everything is being tolerated. It is only in the Strickland case, however, that drastic measures ensue.” 

READ: Dutch bishop rebukes heretical German Synodal Way: ‘Intentional deception of the faithful’ 

Asked by InfoVaticana about the Pope’s most recent scandal in approving the “blessing” of homosexual “couples” and couples living in adultery or fornication – labeled as “irregular unions” – Mutsaerts condemned Fiducia Supplicans as “contrary to Catholic teaching” and “a break with Tradition,” a position held by many bishops and cardinals, including Cardinals Müller and Sarah, and nearly all the bishops of Africa. He said Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez’s attempt to distinguish between the “couple” and the “union” is an “artificial distinction.” 

Fiducia Supplicans is also problematic,” Mutsaerts said. “Can a priest bless sinners? Obviously, yes. Can he bless sin? Obviously not. It is at this point that FS misses the point. FS says homosexual unions can be blessed. This is a doctrine contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.” 

“FS generated a great deal of controversy. It doesn’t help that Cardinal Fernandez makes an artificial distinction between ‘couple’ and ‘union’ in response to criticism. A priest can bless the ‘couple,’ but not the ‘union,’ which makes no sense. At the end of the day, it’s a couple because there’s a union.” 

Müller made the same point in his latest critique of the document, affirming that the union or relationship is “constitutive” of the couple as a couple and so is the supposed object of what is being blessed, per the instructions of FS. 

READ: Cardinal Müller: Fiducia Supplicans ‘leads to heresy,’ Catholics cannot accept it 

In his interview with InfoVaticana, Mutsaerts countered what he saw as specious arguments on the part of the Pope, declaring the proposed blessing of FS to be a clear “break with Tradition.”  

“What doesn’t help either is Pope Francis’ assertion that priests in prisons can also bless the biggest criminals,” Mutsaerts said. “Yes, they can, but we don’t bless their activities. I can bless thieves, but not their activities. I can bless homosexuals, but not their union.” He continued: 

I do not rule out that Pope Francis will take new steps in the direction he has taken. But we also know that where there is no continuity there is a break with tradition. We haven’t seen that before in 2,000 years. That there is a break with Tradition may be evident from the resistance. In 2000 years, we have never seen so many people – or even an entire continent – oppose a Roman Declaration.

READ: ‘Diabolical ambiguity’: Dutch bishop pleads for clarity from Francis regarding homosexual ‘blessings’  

Both in December of last year and again in January, Mutsaerts had previously voiced strong criticisms of Fiducia Supplicans, calling the confusion it has caused a “diabolical ambiguity.” In January, he called it “a cowardly document,” since “it refuses to name homosexual practices as intrinsically evil.” 

He argued that it was “now clear that Fiducia Supplicans is not about an expansion of the meaning of blessings, but of a deliberate modification of what is sin.”  

Lamenting the setting aside of doctrine in the name of a false “pastoral” practice that does not serve the good of souls, he declared: 

Objections from numerous bishops – indeed, bishops’ conferences – and hundreds of priests and faithful are arrogantly dismissed. How often the word ‘pastoral’ is used to set aside the Magisterium, to set doctrine and life in opposition to each other, and then to condone life that is at odds with doctrine. Pastoral care is no longer soul care; it has become soulless. Doctrine is set aside; after all, it is only words; it says nothing about the real meaning, or so people reason. Nominalism is back from (never) being gone. Subjectivism and relativism reign supreme today at the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. ‘Dicastery of Deconstruction’ would be a more appropriate name.

READ: Dutch bishop blasts ‘cowardly’ Fiducia Supplicans, urges scandalized Catholics not to leave Church  

During his interview with InfoVaticana, Mutsaerts also decried the confusion found within the Church because of Pope Francis. “The times are extremely confusing,” he admitted. 

One of the Pope’s main tasks is to create clarity where there is confusion. Pope Francis is selective in answering questions (some ‘dubia’ are never answered, others are answered promptly), and his answers are often open to multiple interpretations, leading to further confusion and division. Consider Amoris Laetitia. Is it permissible for someone who is not in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion? The Church’s unequivocal answer has always been a resounding ‘No.’ Amoris Laetitia contains many statements whose vagueness or ambiguity allows interpretations that are contrary to faith or morals, or that suggest a statement contrary to faith and morals without actually affirming it.

Asked whether a bishop or cardinal informing the Pope that he has made a mistake would be a breaking of ecclesial unity, Mutsaerts argued that, on the contrary, “It is not all those who defend the truth of the faith or express opinions different from those expressed by the Pope who create division.” 

The Dutch bishop insisted that today “remaining silent does not contribute to the unity of the Church,” but rather, “the ambiguity expressed in the Vatican’s messages creates confusion.” Such confusion, he said, “endangers the credibility of the Church, causing people to lose faith and some to leave the Church in despondency.” 

READ: Hundreds more priests, scholars ask Church leaders to request Pope Francis withdraw Fiducia Supplicans  

Asked about the de-Christianization and secularism that are advancing all over Europe, and what he thought the solution was for Europe to become a Catholic continent again, Mutsaerts cited G.K. Chesterton’s classic book, The Eternal Man 

He said Chesterton “describes the ‘Five Deaths of Faith,’ the five moments in history when Christianity was doomed to disappear. Chesterton mentions: (1) the Roman Empire, (2) the time when Islamic armies conquered the Middle East and North Africa, (3) the Middle Ages when feudalism disappeared and the Renaissance emerged, (4) the time when the old regimes of Europe disappeared and the convulsive times of revolutions, and finally (5) the nineteenth century, the century of Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche and Freud.” 

Mutsaerts explained that, according to Chesterton, “Each crisis was followed by a time of renewal, a time of rebirth. Each time faith seemed to go to the sharks, but each time it was the sharks that didn’t survive. Each time, the resurgence was totally unexpected. Even now, the Church seems to be coming to an end, but it could turn out differently. Orthodoxy has usually been the response that has heralded the recovery.” 

Underscoring the danger of trying to please the secular world, Mutsaerts concluded, “Of course, there are always voices that ask to adapt to the times. The Church certainly should do so, as long as it does not involve an adaptation of faith. In any case, the solution is not to lower the bar, to simplify the faith. Pleasing the secular world always ends in the evaporation of the faith. The Church has always survived where its identity remained through reform, purification, and revitalization.” 


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