Belgium: A church soon to be turned into a fruit and vegetable market
Because it serves too few of the faithful, St. Catherine’s Church in the heart of the Belgian capital may soon be desecrated and turned into a fruit and vegetable market. The announcement, published in early November by the City of Brussels, provoked a strong mobilization and the creation of the association “Friends of St. Catherine.” Its online petition has currently gathered 1,820 signatures. “Shall we remain silent and passive before such an aberration? Will we abandon our largest church in the center of the city (…) which attracts 2.5 million visitors?” One can read the petition Stop the Desecration of St. Catherine’s Church in Brussels on the association’s web site.
The organizers of the petition recall that this neo-Gothic church, built in the late nineteenth century, houses a vibrant Catholic community of about 100 faithful every Sunday, as well as a community… of 150 Romanian Orthodox faithful, “in harmonious ecumenical cohabitation.”
For Bishop John Kockerols, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels, “We deliberated much before we took the option to reallocate the Church of St. Catherine in the center of the city of Brussels as a covered fruit and vegetable market.” In a statement released November 8, he estimates that this transformation will “involve maintaining a place of worship on the site, albeit a more modest one, that would allow passers-by a private place to pray and find rest, silence and refreshment. The future of St. Catherine’s Church is part of an overall consideration concerning all the churches in the city center.” (Sources: apic / catho.be – DICI No. 245 of 25/11/11)