René Grotenhuis, Director of Cordaid (CIDSE’s member in the Netherlands) from 2003-2013 and CIDSE President from 2008-2010, passed away on 8th December at the age of 70 after a short period of illness. We are grateful for his immense contribution to the CIDSE network and to the broader fight for global justice. His family and friends are in our prayers.
In a moving article posted after his death on Cordaid’s website, his former colleagues describe him as a man with passion and an eye for the big picture in the fight against poverty and injustice. They remember him as always looking for ways to connect people, for cooperation and dialogue, a person with the power to unite several souls. He was a theologian with a compassionate eye for the doubts that accompany faith for many people. He was spiritual without losing touch with the everyday. He was an activist who joined marches and supported radical ideas for systemic change but didn’t lose sight of political feasibility. He was a man of principles, who was inspired and led by free spirits, like Tiny Muskens, Oscar Romero, and Jesus.
He left his footprints in so many areas, including the evolvement of Dutch development cooperation and the shaping of Dutch foreign policy in Afghanistan. He engaged in this while staying critical, wondering: “Shouldn’t we have been more modest? Shouldn’t we have supported Afghans much more to build their country from the bottom-up?”. As a theologian and social activist, he entered into discussions with bishops in the Netherlands and African countries about medical-ethical issues such as the necessity of contraceptives in the fight against AIDS and about access to sexual and reproductive health care as a human right.
Former colleagues within the CIDSE network remember him as a great and fond supporter of the network, a visionary, and someone who chose ‘connection’ over polarization. He represented a role model, appreciated both from a professional and human level.
Thank you René, for all you did and for sharing a stretch of your journey with us!
Here below is an interview he gave about the relationship between EU and civil society. His words are still relevant.
Photo credit: CIDSE