Thursday, 18 November 2010

Crisis in Belgium

Paolo Rodari, in his Palazzo Apostolico blog, draws our attention to a little rebellion in the Belgian Church which he read about in the New York Times. Don Bosco parish in Buizingen, a parish in the diocese of Malines, now without a priest since the death of the last incumbent, has simply started to attempt to celebrate the Mass without benefit of clergy. Though there is a former priest, now married, in the parish, the first 'celebration' was led by a retired railway official, pictured here. There are said to be about a dozen of these churches in Holland and Flanders, being a reaction to the shortage of priests, but also a gesture of defiance to a hierarchy perceived as being too conservative and too inadequate in its response to abusive clergy.

This reaction is not surprising from many perspectives. The Dutch and Flemish Churches were famous before the 1960s for the vibrancy of their faith and their loyalty to Rome. They were second only to Ireland for their commitment to the missions, exporting vast numbers of priests mostly to the former Dutch East Indies. But, as we all know, the bottom fell out of it all. The Dutch Church first became extremely liberal, and then imploded; that these two things might be connected does not seem to have occurred to the people in Buizingen. As with so many people of this cast of mind, the only answer is to accelerate and deepen the break with the past in the hope that if this policy is implemented with all fervour, then the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit promised at Vatican II will finally happen.

What will happen, of course, is that these communities will either die out altogether, or will come to resemble liberal congregationalist Protestant bodies who cheerfully decide doctrine more or less for themselves, and therefore come to resemble simply clubs of (more or less) Christians who agree with each other, but not with the club down the road.

You might care to compare these querulous, ageing and failing congregations on their way out of the Catholic Church with those happy Anglo-Catholics in San Antonio lining up to join. One line from the report on the blog I linked to on the last post has kept ringing in my mind: 'Children are the necessary fruit of these communities. Where people have hope, they have children.'

Actually, I've just noticed that this post has for some strange reason been deleted from the Anglo-Catholic. You can find it now here, on the Ordinariate Portal.

1 comment:

Cruise the Groove. said...

"...then the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit promised at Vatican II will finally happen."

When was there a promise that there would be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Vatican II, and who promised that?
Just curious.
God bless.