(Brussels) The Belgian church is facing financial collapse. The annual accounts of the dioceses have large losses in a country that was particularly affected by the pedophile abuse scandal. The Church of the ethnically divided land between Flemish and Walloons, which was a thriving Catholic landscape until half a century ago, is going through a serious crisis. The seminaries are largely empty, the number of practicing Catholics has shrunk to a loyal core. The bishops enjoy only a touch of prestige and weight in public life that they once had. Progressive bishops like Cardinal Leo Suenens, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and the like-minded bishops promoted by him have brought the secularization of the country and the alienation of the faithful of the Church.
At Cardinal Suenens liberal church de-Christianized society follows
Since the Second Vatican Council, when the Cardinal Suenens was included as part of the Rhenish alliance as one of the big "makers", propagated in Belgium even church leaders such as the Dominican theologian Edward Schillebeeckx a "rising in the modern" church. Pedophile child molesters, such as the former Bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe of Bruges, who abused his nephew even after his episcopal ordination, did the rest. Symptomatic high point culminated in June 2010 with the development of a scandalous desecration of the tomb of Cardinal Suenens in the Cathedral of St. Rumold Mechelen, worse copy than Dan Brown by a special unit of the Belgian police in search of incriminating material in connection with the pedophile scandal. Nothing was found. What the competent Belgian court did not prevent, later declared the desecration of the rest of the dead to be legal.
Declining Inhibition of Hostility Toward the Church
To get out of this crisis is difficult. For this reason, Pope Benedict XVI appointed the Bishop of Namur, Andre-Joseph Leonard as the new Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and thus Primate of Belgium in 2010. Leonard was the only Bishop with significant growth in priestly vocations. With the appointment an anti-Church campaign was discharged with an unprecedented aggressiveness. Feminist extremists are only the most visible, but by no means the most important point. The cake attacks and recently, a scandalous attack by bare breasted FEMEN-activists against Archbishop Leonard, however, helps to undermine the reputation of the episcopal dignity and to reduce the threshold in dealing with the ecclesiastical dignitaries. The attacks against Archbishop Leonard are meaningful. The archbishop, who had nothing to do with the abuse scandal, except his energetic work for "maximum transparency", would have actually pleased indignant citizens. But he is, as a faithful representatives of the Church, an eyesore. This creates the bizarre situation that he of all people is the scapegoat of Church hostility, which is justified by the abuse scandal. The pedophile scandal seems to many only to serve as a welcome springboard to be preachy to rise above the Church and renounce her. Using the example of Belgium can be seen that a de-Christianized society is not "neutral" but is morally acidic and anti-Church.
Revenues decrease, expenses increase due to pain and suffering payments to abuse victims
The numbers posted by the Church center to address the abuse cases are interestin. 72 percent of reported cases involve Flanders and upwards of 80 percent of the men were born for the most part in the 50s and 60s. The data confirms that the "opening" of the Church to the world as it propagated the atmosphere during and after the Second Vatican Council, and the meeting with the contemporaneous "sexual revolution", has hurt the Church. However, a discussion of these correlations with possible conclusions did not take place. Meanwhile, the Church must pay abuse victims for pain and suffering, as revenues decline.
The study L'iris et le Croisssant by Professor Felice Dassetto of the Catholic University of Leuven, the Belgian Church also sees problems through rapid changes in society, which was rebuilt in many multicultural cities. The proportion of the native population and the proportion of Catholics has rapidly declined in many Belgian cities.
Multicultural reconstruction of society means loss of traditional identity and rapid growth of Islam
According to the ACS report, 25 percent of the inhabitants of Brussels are Muslims. It's a rapidly rising trend. In the Belgian capital, there are already 77 mosques.
In this climate of radical social reconstruction through the loss of local traditional cultural identity and different religious immigrants from other cultures, comes the new phenomenon of increasing violence against religious institutions. For example, the arson attack on the Church of Begijnendijk in Couvin in the diocese of Namur or damage to seven churches.
The attack against Archbishop Leonard during a discussion on the topic of all freedom of expression at the State University of Brussels by FEMEN activists has already been mentioned. The feminists have accused the church of "homophobia".
Way Out of Crisis Through Renewal of the Church in Faith and Discipline - Bishops against Euthanasia of Children and Alzheimer's Patients
The way out of the crisis is not easy, but there has been a change in the episcopate, since Andre-Joseph Leonard has been primate. The bishops expressed their solidarity with him in the assaults of FEMEN. In a statement, they said the violent and blasphemous feminists have lost "all credibility". They whose behavior stands to lead "stark contrast to the topic of discussion and the style with which the Catholic Church in its dialogue with pluralistic society".
Archbishop Leonard promotes faithful groups and communities. A work in silence, where the church is truly renewed. The bishops with Leonard at their head have entered the ring against a legislative bill. The capital, Brussels, Belgium as well as the ruling Socialist party under the Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and avowed homosexuals would like to expand the legalized euthanasia in 2002 to children younger than 15 years old and Alzheimer's patients by law.
In Belgium, life is mortally threatened in many ways. This is also a product of de-Christianized society. It's no easy stand for the Catholic Church.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Sancte Pater
Image: Sancte Pater