News from Europe

Belgian public media wonder what to do with desecralised churches

On its official website, the Belgian French-speaking public radio and TV (RTBF) recenlty wrote: "Flats, museums, hotels, climbing walls? What to do with our desacralised churches?”


Last week, for example, the decision was made on the imposing basilica on a hill in Liege. The church will undergo renovation and change its purpose. A project called “Basilique Experience” was selected. In this way, the largest indoor climbing wall will be created in the building.

There will also be a climbing path for the less advanced, as well as a panoramic restaurant and a cinema. In fact, it is the former Church of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes, which was built after World War I to honour its victims and allied armies. The temple was desacralised in 2010.

On this occasion, RTBF states that “there are many such religious buildings in our region. These churches, chapels and monasteries that are scattered throughout our cities and villages are less and less frequented and expensive to maintain. The way out is to desacralise them.”

The website resembles a letter from the Belgian bishops of 2019, in which they wrote that “Churches are places of welcome with open doors. We enter them and leave them when we want. […] These are places open to all, believers or not. Public places, unique of its kind. Churches that are closed all week or open only to liturgical services are not sending out a good signal.”

The bishops gave the green light to the desecration of churches and stated that “the infrastructure inherited from the past “no longer corresponds to the real situation of the Church in our society.” Somehow they do not believe in people’s return to faith and they agree to combine the sacred functions of some buildings with other activities, but also to liquidate or completely change their purpose.

And so churches are turned into exhibition halls, libraries, hotels, museums (it’s good that not yet museums of atheism, as in the Soviets), archives, wine cellars, flats, sometimes clubs and restaurants. Desacralisation is to allow for obtaining funds for the renovation of decaying buildings. The famous “Spirito” disco in Brussels is a former Anglican temple. The church in Antwerp has recently become a vaccine center, and so on.

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