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December 28, 2006


Deacon John M. Bresnahan

Interesting article--Thanks for the link. I'm puzzled by one aspect of the article though--in many other European countries-even England-the Catholic Church is being reinforced by huge numbers of immigrants from Catholic countries such as those in Latin America and Eastern Europe. This article seems to say most of the Christian immigrants coming to Holland are non-mainstream Protestant--odd when compared to some other European countries.
And if massive reverse pressure could be put on Saudi Arabia to give Christians there the same rights Moslems have in all the Christian countries--their huge number of immigrant Christian workers would have quite an impact on the homeland of Mecca.

Philip Howard

I was sure after reading the beginning of the piece that this was going to be about the growth of Muslim prayer in Holland. How refreshing to see that Christianity isn't dead/dying there! Amazing. Yes, perhaps the doomsayers (C.S. Lewis et all) will be incorrect - at least in the short term. Plus, who knows, maybe Pope Benedict XVI will have some effect as well?! - PH

Christopher Fotos

I was sure after reading the beginning of the piece that this was going to be about the growth of Muslim prayer in Holland.

Me too! Blah, blah, blah, I thought. Get to the point.


Jan Willem Otten, the Catholic writer mentioned in this article, is a convert. In 2005 he wrote front-page newspaper articles in praise of John Paul II and Benedict XVI; there was no negative reaction, which would have been unthinkable ten years ago. That's a sign that things are changing in The Netherlands, and not just in the Protestant groupings which are given,perhaps, too much prominence here. Dutch society remains profoundly secular.

Donald R.McClarey

The Faith has a way of springing back from near death experiences: Roman persecution, conquest by barbarians, onslaught of Islam, French Revolution, the atheist totalitarian states of the last century, to name just a few. Although it is trite, in the history of the Church it has often been darkest before dawn.

Kevin Jones

"The ultimate consequence of this approach is yet another new phenomenon: that of the house churches."

From what I've heard, house churches are actually an old tradition. After the Reformation, Holland went officially Protestant but still allowed Catholics to worship in their own homes.

Is Otten's work available in translation?

I think this essay suggests how pessimistic pundits can enable secularization or islamization. Indeed, the idea that European Christianity is in inevitable decline is just a warmed-over version of the secularization thesis, invoked not by secularists but by despondent Christians, Eurabian fearmongerers, and rightist anti-immigration groups.

Those who keep claiming that European Christianity is doomed might be writing a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's the kind of despair that breeds inaction rather than trust in God to get us out of our messes.

Tom Kelty

Thanks Amy,
Thank You Amy. I took your advice and read the article. Reading about "house church" and "youth church" and wanting to "be church" rather than just go to church are ideas that warm the cockles of this old man's heart. Those who read this article will have something to say to the doomsayers who are ranting about secularism. Send a few copies to Rome.


Deacon John:
I presume they are African Pentecostalists - the growth of such congregations has been very noticeable in London and is visible in Dublin

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