The letter went on to note that “such recognition helps politicians find answers to current challenges and in shaping a society in which everyone comes into their own. There is also room for those who come from elsewhere, are in need, and require our care. All people are equal in dignity.”
“We are deeply concerned about growing divisions and increased fears in our country due to conflicts elsewhere in the world, which have as a result that Jews as well as Muslims in our society are unfairly targeted and negatively affected.”
“Common good is promoted not only by connecting people but also by uniting them in common projects such as Europe, which began as a peace project by building trust and cooperation,” the letter continued.
Religion has been in steep decline in the Netherlands for the past two decades. According to a 2021 report by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), over 55% of Dutch do not claim any religious affiliation, while 18.3% identified as Catholic (down from 19.8% in 2020). But, according to the 2020 figures, only 13% of Catholics regularly attend Mass and almost 8% said they do not believe in God.
Earlier this month, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) issued a statement following their 2023 Autumn Plenary Assembly on the themes of unity and peace. Singed by 21 delegate bishops of the COMECE — including Theodorus C.M. Hoogenboom, the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Utrecht — it warned that the ongoing conflict in Palestine and war in Ukraine could have a destabilizing effect on the rest of Europe.
“Such international polarization and regional instabilities also have repercussions for European societies, stirring up fears, weakening dialogue, and threatening social cohesion,” the letter stated.
The letter also drew attention, without explicitly mentioning any politician or party by name, to the rightward populist shift that characterized the European political landscape over the last two years.
“Dangerous phenomena have been gaining ground in several European countries, such as antisemitism, radicalization, and xenophobia, often fueled by a systematic spread of disinformation and resulting in violent extremism and terrorism, which we strongly condemn in all their forms and expressions.”