According to the Eindhovens Dagblad, a spokesperson of the archbishopric Utrecht has stated that the presentation of the photo comic book ‘Zonde’ by Ype Driessen in the Sint Willibrordkerk ‘has not been cancelled because of his homosexuality, but because the title and the promotional text of his book’.
It becomes clear from this article that the foundation that organised cultural events in the Sint Willibrordkerk had cancelled the book presentation at the instance of the archbishopric Utrecht.
A spokesperson of the archbishopric: “This is a house of God, meant for services in his honour, and not for other activities.” The spokesperson explains that the church turns a blind eye to some activities, such as classical concerts and ‘book presentations with a direct link to Catholicism’.
“But this comic book is presented as ‘the author's most sinful so far’. It has nothing to do with his sexual orientation. And even if this is meant in an ironic way, it just does not belong in a place of worship.”
It is not the first time the St. Willibrordkerk caused a stir. Theatre maker Dries Verhoeven's play ‘De Uitvaart’ was performed at the Church and was considered sacrilegious later. The Church had to be reconsecrated before Mass could take place again.
According to the spokesperson of the archbishopric and referring to that commotion, the archbishopric has made it clear to the Sint Willibrordus Foundation (the owner of the historic monument) that ‘it would sever relations if other such lapses would occur’.
This statement is in keeping with the statement by the Stichting Sint Willibrord Apostolaat, which arranges the services in the Church, on the desecration of the church after the staging of ‘De Uitvaart’ and the steps that need to be taken to again have Masses in the Sint Willibrordkerk. This statement says:
Cardinal Eijk has been found willing to organise a penitential service to make the Church qualify for Mass again, if other profanities and dishounaring will be made impossible. To that end, the apostolic administration will contact the executive committee of the Sint Willibrordus Stichting (owner of the building) and the board of the supporting Stichting Culturele Evenementen Sint Willibrordkerk (which agreed to the staging of ‘De Uitvaart’ in this Church). Whether the apostolic administration will succeed in preserving the Church for Mass will depend on the cooperation of the boards of the above mentioned other foundations.
COC Netherlands is of the opinion that the cancellation of the book presentation is incomprehensible and indecent. Incomprehensible if that decision has anything to do with the homosexuality of Ype Driessen or the nature of his work, as the Stichting Culturele Evenementen Sint Willibrordkerk must have been aware of this. Indecent because the decision was only made shortly before the book presentation, letting down both Mr Driessen and his publisher. The COC has also urged the Sint Willibrordkerk to announce the reasons of this cancellation.
Approximately 150 people were to attend the book presentation of ‘Zonde’ by Ype Driessen in the Sint Willibrordkerk. They found the Church closed because the presentation was cancelled at the last moment. Publisher Strip2000 hopes to give out information as to when and where the presentation will again take place. Mr Driessen and his publisher are also looking into legal steps against the decision of the Stichting Culturele Evenementen Sint Willibrordkerk.