UTRECHT, The Netherlands, November 18, 2004 ( – Cardinal Adrianis Simonis of Utrecht believes that the “spiritual vacuity” of Dutch society has left the Netherlands open to an Islamic cultural takeover.  “Today we have discovered that we are disarmed in the face of the Islamic danger,” the cardinal told the Italian daily Avvenir. He pointed out that even some young people who were born and raised in the Netherlands have become militant Muslims. The rise of Islam, Cardinal Simonis said, is related to “the spectacle of extreme moral decadence and spiritual decline that we offer” to young people.

“Nowadays political leaders ask whether the Muslims will accept our values,” the Dutch cardinal observed. “I ask, ‘What values are those? Gay marriage? Euthanasia?’”

If those are the reigning moral principles on which today’s society is built, Cardinal Simonis continued, he rejects them as emphatically as Islamic leaders.

The cardinal said that he did not intend to take an extreme position, insisting “fundamentalism is always a problem.” But on the other hand, he said, a society must be based on a common understanding of public order and morality. “It isn’t enough to learn our language,” he said.  The problem for the Netherlands, the cardinal continued, is a “lack of identity.” The time is long past, he observed, when Christians “would fight and die for their faith.” Today Islamic radicals are prepared to fight, as was evident earlier this month when the noted screenwriter Theo van Gogh was assassinated by Muslim zealots. Cardinal Simonis added that he still holds out “hope that these tragic facts will force us to recover our identity.”

Commenting on the Dutch tradition of tolerance, Cardinal Simonis observed that the notion of “tolerance” as it is understood there today is a recent development. “For three centuries, Catholics were barred from public office,” he noted. The current penchant for “tolerance,” he said, “came later, after a common loss of faith—roughly 40 years ago.”

Today Dutch society is known for its permissive attitude toward social issues, with laws that allow euthanasia, same-sex marriage, widespread use of recreational drugs, prostitution, and adoption by homosexual couples.

Cardinal Simonis said that the best prospect for recovery would come if the younger generation returned to Christian traditions. “That is my hope, and I do see signs that young people are rediscovering the faith,” he said.