A church in Forest, Brussels, has been transformed into ... a climbing gym. "In Belgium, it's the first time," says Dhnet. This was announced by Mayor Mariam El Hamidine of Ecologists.At the same time, the old church on rue de l'Eglise in Masnuy-Saint-Jean was officially put up for sale for 100,000 euros. The decision was made by the city council. In Nivelles another church ended up on the market. Then the Ciney church was sold for € 200,000. In Ghent, the church of Sant’Anna has been converted into a supermarket. And in Beyne-Heusay, 2 out of 5 churches will be demolished.
And this to record changes only for the last three months. Going a little further back is the church of Petit Wasmes, in Wallonia, converted into apartments, while in Anderlecht the great church of St. Francis will become a sports center.
40 churches were closed or sold in Belgium alone in 2019 (31 in 2018). It is a spectacular and unstoppable trend of "de-Christianization". "Since it went on sale in 2019 they have come forward to offer to open a restaurant, a nursing home and a mosque: now the Notre-Dame de Lourdes church in Bressoux (Liège) has finally been sold", explains Le Vif .
In Malonne, the Piroy chapel has been converted into a brewery. In Namur, the Saint-Jacques church has been converted into a clothing store. In Tournai, the church of Santa Margherita in a series of luxury apartments. Also in Namur, the church of Notre Dame, built in 1749, is now used as a "cultural space". The Fays-Famenne church has just been sold for 235,000 euros.
The churches of Belgium are being investigated by the newspaper La Libre. There is talk of one in two churches that will be closed. 36 out of 110 churches in Brussels are destined to change their use in the face of the dramatic decline in faithful. This is the plan of the archbishop of Brussels.
The Economist also addressed this trend. "The ancient cities of Belgium are cradles of Christian art and culture, and Catholicism is in many ways the country's raison d'être. But just as the role of Christianity has waned, a new creed, Islam, is gaining importance ". Among the respondents, the levels of adherence to Catholicism drastically decrease with age, while Islam increases correspondingly. "If this trend continues, the faithful of Islam could soon comfortably overtake Catholics not only in the cosmopolitan city of Brussels, as it already is, but throughout the southern territory of Belgium".
Belgium is one of those countries, like Ireland, an example of a society that was once intensely Catholic but in which religion collapsed very quickly. They all have the same symptoms - empty churches, sex scandals, mainstream-prone hierarchies.
In Belgium, religious observance is reserved for elderly Catholics or the Muslim minority. In an interview with L’Echo, the Cardinal Archbishop of Brussels Jozef De Kesel said: “At a time when our Western culture is secularizing, Islam is engulfing it. It would be imprudent to create a religious vacuum”.
A few years ago, Niall Ferguson, one of the most brilliant contemporary historians, wrote in the New York Times that the future of Europe could be "the creeping Islamization of a decadent Christianity". The title of the article was: "Eurabia?".
The data are contained in Professor Felice Dassetto's book 'L'iris et le croissant'. And this only in the Belgian capital. "In the mid-1970s there were only 6 mosques and Koranic schools in Brussels, in the early 1980s there were 38, now they are 80," said Dassetto. And so, headlines Le Vif, “mosque projects are flourishing in Brussels”.
So the great German writer Martin Mosebach is right when to Die Welt this week says that the “the loss of a religion destabilizes a country ”. When a society no longer knows how to give itself a reason to exist, others find it and the void left by Christianity is soon filled.