Bishop Jan Hendriks of the diocese of Haarlem/Amsterdam has interfered with the wedding party of FVD leader Thierry Baudet. Priest, professor and writer Antoine Bodar, who had been invited to give a festive speech, was urged not to speak from Hendriks.
Hendriks and Bodar confirm this when asked. Hendriks says it was not a gag order, but also says: “It could be misunderstood. It could be interpreted as political support.”
Bodar said to it last week Dutch daily newspaper that he himself had come to the conclusion not to speak in the protestant Noorderkerk in Amsterdam, where Baudet married the photographer Davide Heijmans. He said: “Should I come, it will be interpreted publicly as a measure of agreement with the groom’s radical political views that I do not share. I would discredit myself and, more importantly, the Catholic Church.”
Now Bodar writes in a response: “I gave in. Actually against my will. Why? Because apparently I’m so naive that political ideas could be separated from the newlyweds getting married.”
The ceremony was not a church wedding, emphasizes Rev. Jan Visser of the Noorderkerk. “It was about a civil marriage. We had no involvement in it at all. As a local resident, Baudet has rented the space in our church.”
Speech as a friend
Bodar consulted his bishop by email the weekend before the wedding. If he was allowed to speak, he already had his speech ready. Not as a priest or extraordinary registrar of births, marriages and deaths, but as a friend. After that consultation, he concluded “better not to speak, however much I regret.”
“There was no question of a ban,” says Hendriks, bishop in Haarlem/Amsterdam since 2020. “Bodar himself already had doubts and I returned a number of considerations to that. Because even if Bodar had not spoken politically and had only addressed the newlyweds in friendly words, it could have turned out wrong.”
That message got across to Bodar. “It has been pointed out to me that I am not completely free as a priest of the Catholic Church and as rector of the Dutch church in Rome, the so-called Frisian Church.” It is unusual for the Roman Catholic Church to meddle in (semi-)political issues. Baudet could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Bodar and Baudet have known each other for years. After Baudet’s election success in 2019 and his controversial owl-of-Minerva speech, Bodar praised him in the program Buitenhof: “I think it’s special that now everyone knows what Minerva’s owl is.” And: “I think Thierry Baudet, with all the tricks he does, and his group that I have encountered there, are a gracious group of people. Civilized, that’s called, old-fashioned.”
He now thinks differently about Baudet. He is not an FVD voter. “I do not share Thierry Baudet’s ideas in any way, I am 100 percent European and have recently voted CDA.” But his friendship with the newlyweds is separate from Baudet as a politician, he said in the Dutch daily newspaper. “I act as I do in imitation of Jesus, who never excludes anyone at all.”