Bishop Adrianus van Luyn of Rotterdam said that a religious awakening is taking place in Holland in the wake of the desert left by secularism. There are signs of a real search for God. Bishop van Luyn spoke in Italy, where he comes every year for spiritual exercises at the ecumenical monastic community of Bose, in the Piedmont region.
    The Dutch Church has lived through the painful experience of going from one of the strongest social organizations in the country, through the secularization of the 70s and the flight of youth and intellectuals which left the seminaries empty. Now there is a reawakening, although still in the early stages, to which the Church must be prepared to respond.
    "It is a felt need, not restricted to a place, which calls for a response. We are looking for a way, but there are difficulties. The clergy is scarce and old, so it is difficult for them to understand the language and culture of youth. Religious life is going through hard times, because there are very few vocations. There is a rebirth among the diocesan clergy, but the number is not large enough to substitute the aging priests.
    Bishop van Luyn, who represents the Dutch Episcopate and presides over the working group concerned with social affairs, said that the Dutch Church has gone from being too concerned with internal problems to speaking out on urgent matters in society in an atmosphere of ecumenical dialogue and mutual trust. "The new evangelization must be undertaken in a climate of contrast and dialogue, both within as well as outside the Church, between the Church and civil society, and in the ecumenical movement. As the Church, we participate in the public debate on values which must be the fundamental basis of civil coexistence, including the problems of euthanasia, abortion and poverty." The priority, Bishop van Luyn added, "is the need for spirituality and urgent solidarity. A recent survey revealed that people put their trust first in science and second, in the churches. They do appreciate the fact that the Church participates in the public and social debate."
    Regarding the need for dialogue with youth, the Bishop of Rotterdam said that such communication was necessary "to be able to address the values of youth and to help them know that the Gospel values are not foreign to them. It is the method Jesus used with the disciples of Emmaus. This takes a lot of time, but we've already had good experiences."

9:38am 15/4/99 / Zenit


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