Dutch diocese gives priest an ultimatum: Your lady or your job

2011-11-11 14:26

The Hague – The Dutch Catholic Church has ordered an 81-year-old priest to leave his partner of 46 years or be forced to quit the priesthood, the Den Bosch diocese in the central Netherlands announced today.

Jan Peijnenburg’s relationship with Threes van Dijck (85) was unacceptable to other priests, the Dutch Catholic Church said.

“We are giving him the choice: either he leaves his partner or he leaves the priesthood,” said diocese spokesperson Michiel Savelsbergh.

“We cannot allow him to do that which is forbidden to others.”

But Peijnenburg told the daily newspaper AD, through a friend, that the Catholic Church had already known of his relationship for about a decade.

In a veiled admission of complicity, the diocese said it had given the ultimatum after a leaflet penned by Peijnenburg criticising priestly celibacy, which “confirmed what we knew”.

“Other priests reacted and, as we had had a written confirmation, we couldn’t leave things as they were,” said Savelsbergh.

Catholic priests are forbidden to marry, except in certain cases where married clergy convert to Catholicism from other religions.

Peijnenburg has until December 1 to decide but, according to the paper AD, his choice is already made: love over religion.

“Naturally I choose Threes. We are staying together,” Peijnenburg said.

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