I recall seeing a bit on the news the morning of the World Cup final and thinking “that has got to be (I hope) an Anglican Dutch priest not a Catholic priest”. Alas, I was wrong.
Bishop Joseph Punt of Haarlem-Amsterdam has suspended a parish priest, Father Paul Vlaar, who wore orange vestments-- the color of the Netherlands’ World Cup team-- during Sunday Mass on July 11. Father Vlaar also acted as a goalkeeper during Mass, standing in front of a goal as a parishioner kicked a soccer ball down the aisle.
“On Sunday 11 July, Pastor Paul Vlaar of Obdam celebrated the Holy Eucharist in the spirit of the Football World Cup, wearing an orange chasuble, and did insufficient justice, in text and form, to the sanctity of the Eucharist,” a diocesan statement noted. “The footage of this has caused indignation among faithful here and abroad.”
The statement continued:
In the past the bishop had impressed upon Fr Vlaar not to mix the Holy Eucharist with profane events. The pastor has said to fully support this and promised to abide. The pastor’s pastoral zeal and commitment are not under discussion. Following this new incident the bishop again met with Fr. Vlaar, imposed an immediate time of reflection on him and relieved him of his priestly duties for the time being. Things will once again be considered at a later date.
And this is a blog by a Dutch Catholic blogger discussing the issue further:
I did follow the World Cup a bit. Thanks to my DS and sitting on the sidelines of several years of soccer games, I learned to like the sport. Yes, I know more about and follow American football, but I do enjoy soccer and we used to go see the Columbus Crew play at least a couple of times a year when we were still in Ohio.
In full disclosure, I am also a Cleveland Browns fan and I also tend to cheer for the other Cleveland teams (Indians, Cavaliers) so I KNOW from sports drought. I mean, the last time the Browns were the world champions in professional (American) football, there was no Super Bowl. I still hate Denver and the names Byner and Elway still make me cringe. That being said, on that joyful Sunday I hope to experience when my Brownies are in the Super Bowl, I want to attend mass in the morning and prayerfully participate in mass and receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament from a priest in the correct liturgical color of vestments for the day and in a church with the liturgically correct altar cloths. I don’t care if I am at the Cathedral in downtown Cleveland; I don’t want the priest in orange and brown. Mass in the Catholic church is worship. Boosterism belongs in a stadium.