Liberal politician criticizes, leaves Roman Catholic church
Klaas Dijkhoff, the leader of the parliamentary faction of ruling party VVD, announced in a critical open letter addressed to archbishop Wim Eijk that he is leaving the Roman Catholic church. "I choose for love and people instead of the restrictions and the church", Dijkhoff wrote, NOS reports.
The letter is in response to an interview Eijk gave to the Gelderlander about the Catholic church disappearing from the Netherlands, which was published on Saturday. In it the archbishop explicitly mentioned Dijkhoff, implying that he is responsible for closing churches.
In response to a question about a growing sentiment in the Netherlands that there should be less religion in the public space, Eijk said to the newspaper: "That worries me. If we are a truly tolerant society, we must give people the opportunity to express what they believe."
He continued: "You have to be tolerant. Give someone else his utterances, do not force someone to only experience his faith behind closed doors. I just think that's petty. Klaas Dijkhoff of the VVD recently said at a party congress: we can not forbid the churches, but it is good that they have learned to sing in a lower key. What a hyper-individualist like Dijkhoff is not talking about is that churches have a social function. Most volunteers come from a church angle. That is the participation society that the government wants so much. Religion behind closed doors? What pettiness! I use that word intentionally. You must have the grace to accept religion."
In his response Dijkhoff, who describes himself as a Brabant Catholic, wrote: "In nothing did I recognize the positive values that members of your church transferred to me in the past." He said that his words were distorted by the archbishop. "Firstly, what I said was: It's great that there are churches in the Netherlands, do not get me wrong, I would not want to forbid that. To me the difference between "can not forbid" and "do not want to forbid" seems essential in this context, but so be it, that you as a spiritual do not take matters as literally, I consider progress."
"Find out before you judge, I'd say. Were it not for the fact that I have given up hope on that a long time ago. You and your church, which once was mine, have specialized over the past decades in dismissing a lot of good, loving and social people", Dijkhoff wrote. He ended his letter with a sincere than you. "You have broken the irrational opposition in me to officially de-register. Please do not hesitate to blame me for a closed church, I will definitely not return."
Eijk is the archbishop of Utrecht. He is seen as a conservative member of the Catholic church. For example, he believes that Catholics can not remarry if their divorce was not submitted to the ecclesiastical judge, according to NOS.