Rorate Caeli

The ambiguous response of the Flemish bishops to the "Faithful have their say" petition

Just a few months ago we reported on the heretical Faithful have their Say petition in Flanders, which calls (among other things) for the ordination of women to the priesthood and communion for 'remarried' divorcees. As of February 9 of this year -- when it was presented to 5 Flemish bishops as well as to Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels -- the petition had 8,235 signatories, including 304 priests and 41 deacons. (The original Dutch text of the petition and the list of signatories can be found here.). 

The following is the response of the Flemish bishops, as translated by Mark de Vries of In Caelo (emphases are Rorate's):

“We, The Flemish bishops, attentively took note of the manifest “Faithful have their say”. The desire for change that speaks from the text, does not leave us untouched. We too are looking for renewal and a greater authenticity, loyal to Scripture and the tradition of the Church.  

The situation which we are going through as Church today is not comfortable. Much is asked from those with pastoral responsibility. We no longer have the social position nor the impact which we had in the past. We make every effort to bring the Gospel closer to the lives of the people. But this is not easy in a society in which the secular sense of life is increasing more and more. We understand the pain and powerlessness of many. How can we proclaim the Gospel in such a way that it touches the hearts of the people of this age? That is the question which lives in all of us and which remains our greatest challenge. Structural reform or adaptation will not change anything about that. But they may help us. That is why we understand that the gradual nature of these reforms try the patience. But the evolutions in our society are so fundamental that they require time and discernment to see what can and must happen in these cases. The manifest also gives us the opportunity to clarify our position. Some elements, such as the question of Word services on Sunday, are diocesan affairs and at the moment subject of deliberation. Others, especially those about Holy Orders and the priesthood, are matters of the world Church. In questions which touch upon the personal lives of people, we plead for a respectful, pastoral attitude. Even though not every state of life is equal, no one is inferior, because a human being is always more than his actions and than the situations in which he finds himself. The Church community then, built up around Christ and His Gospel, is sent to all people. She takes on this mission from a vital core which lives from the Eucharist. Because there the branches connect to the vine (John 15:5).  

God needs all faithful, all baptised, to make His love known to the world. Let us work together for a Church community which takes care of its identity, faithful to the mission it has received, a Church which is open and accessible for everyone, with a heart for all men.

Signed, the Flemish bishops.”


  1. Ecclesia Militans8:19 PM

    This response from the bishops could be described as a political statement...
    Which is not surprising considering that a lot of bishops today are more politicians than bishops.

  2. That is why we understand that the gradual nature of these reforms try the patience. But the evolutions in our society are so fundamental that they require time and discernment to see what can and must happen in these cases.

    Is the response saying that there is room for the Church to "evolve" in areas such as women's ordination?

    Instead of reaffirming de fide Church teaching, such as a male-only clergy, the response gives hope to heretics.

    Something is rotten in the state of Belgium

    Here are the beautiful springtime fruits of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo in Belgium (which has exactly the same number of self-identified Catholics as France-75%):

    Catholics in Belgium
    year Sunday Mass Attendance
    1967 42.9%
    1973 32.3%
    1980 26.7%
    1985 22.0%
    1990 17.9%
    1995 13.1%
    1998 11.2%
    2009 5%

    I guess more "evolution" and "reform" is what we need!

    "[A] reform is not necessarily a development; it could actually be its opposite." Msgr. Gherardini The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A Much Needed Discussion

  3. Tradical9:36 PM

    Hi Knight,

    I'm supposed to give a talk about 'why I'm a traditionalist' next month at a Catholic Men's Meeting.

    Where did you find the stats on Mass attendance?


  4. Tradical,

    The situation in Belgium is beyond critical (read this story, written by a member of the Belgian House of Representatives; at least a layman has the courage that some Cardinals do not).

    But as to your request, here they are [you can't believe everything you read, but my guess is that this information is pretty accurate]:

    Here (in Belgian)



  5. What an impotent respond!

  6. I guess more "evolution" and "reform" is what we need!

    This is, of course, exactly what the radicals argue. It's what these Belgian dissidents are arguing now. "The Church did not go far enough." It raised hopes only to dash them upon the rocks of Humanae Vitae, etc. And you know what? I'm sure that some of the people who drifted away after 1968 did so because they objected to the Church's sexual teachings. Had we read the "signs of the times" (Gaudium et Spes 4) and, uh, kept up with them, why, we'd have our real springtime of the Church...

    The problem with this argument, however, is that every Christian denomination that's gone the full monte on these issues has gone into a far deeper tailspin. And yes, I'm looking at you, Anglicans. The theology embodied by these demands is an ecclesiastical death wish.

    Still, there's another qualification that we traditionalists have to keep in mind: The Church would have taken a hit no matter what we had done, in all likelihood. Had Cardinal Siri been elected as Pius XIII in 1958, braced our backs, kiboshed any notions of a Council, kept the mass unchanged....we would have faced some attrition. A cultural revolution swept the West from 1965 onward, and the Church wasn't insulated from that. We would have lost some priests, and lost some laypeople - not as many as we did, but some just the same. Some might even have gone into schism (which would, at least, be intellectually honest). We have to be honest: not all of the dropoff in numbers we have seen from 1965 onward are because of the liberal "reforms" - although some certainly are.

    But we'd all of us still take that alternate reality, because our Mystical body would be much healthier and be in better shape to ride this terrible storm out. Everyone would know just what the Church stood for. And a lot of souls in the Church would not have been infected with the poisons of heresy.

  7. Ivan K12:18 AM

    Spirit-of-Vatican-II Catholicism, like most forms of liberal Christianity, requires great skill in delusion and self-deception.

    Episcopalians and Anglicans justify their dwindling numbers by saying that they have taken on the role of a 'prophetic' church, having rid themselves of the prejudices of tradition earlier than others. These 'prejudices' include things like a belief in God, the Trinity, the Incarnation, in the principle that people ought not to have sex outside of heterosexual marriage, in the idea that it is evil to kill a baby in the womb.

    Of course, as a 'prophetic' church they also become marginal--hence the dwindling numbers. Perhaps the Spirit-of-VII types view themselves as prophetic, as well. On the other hand, maybe they are crypto-atheists who like receive a salary for very little work.

  8. Topper12:54 AM

    In the eyes of the world, it looked as though the Church of Vatican II changed everything except for Her teaching on contraception, etc. The result is that the Church ends up looking ridiculously prudish and sex-obsessed. What we need is a full restoration of Catholic culture, then perhaps more people will begin to take Humanae Vitae seriously....

  9. That is a really long way to go in order to say nothing.

  10. True. It is hard to understand the utter frustration caused by Humanae Vitae if one does not also recall that the Church was changing, from Rome, everything in those same years, starting with... the Most Holy Sacrifice, of course.

    Which is why our fair, gentle, Church looks like it underwent experimental plastic surgery sometime in the 1960s and came out looking like a B-movie Frankenstein, forever stuck in the 1960s... Even these silly protest movements are stuck in the 60s, for crying out loud...

    Sine macula et sine ruga, indeed!

  11. Brian1:11 AM

    It would seem that for these Bishops,

    charity = empathize with heretics and avoid clarity in doctrine (because clearly stating unchangeable Catholic Truth is a rigid, dogmatic and insensitive thing to do)

    In other words, "please don't blame us for not letting women be priests, blame that Pope. We hope that you can see that we are sensitive New Age guys who 'proclaim the Gospel in such a way that it touches the hearts of the people of this age' and who feel your pain."

  12. @Athelstane: I'm sure that some of the people who drifted away after 1968 did so because they objected to the Church's sexual teachings.

    I was an atheist out of a protestant-deistic-Masonic parentage (I don't have one Catholic in my family tree, but I do have generations of high-level Masons, including a 32nd Degree Mason, who was my grandfather.)

    My family still loves me, but it is only because of my winning personality; I have to charm my way into endearment, while I do my work trying to convert them (both the protestants and Deists among them); it's a heavy task, but I am up to it! I'm dealing with JDs, PHDs, MDs etc. Yawn... I have my own JD, and the most sound advice I ever heard during Law School was not to let Doctors intimidate you or change your opinion just because of their education.

    So I, respectfully, let my protestant relatives have it, but with a joyful spirit. Meanspiritedness has gotten man nowhere.

  13. It is downright strange that many current Catholic hierarchical mentality's exists which believes embracing the progressive heresies of the Anglican disaster is the pastoral road to success.
    Certainly one could suspect that the destruction of pastoral Christianity for secular grandiosity is the true motive. In addition, the deceit is not very well hidden.

    St Petersburg Fl

  14. In Hoc Signo Vinces2:36 AM

    Here are 304 priests and 41 deacons ripe for excommunication. I would serve it to them formally and generously give them about a day or two to repent and suffer no consequences. After two days with no repentance, bag and baggage, out into the street, off Church property with private security hired to change the locks. Do this once or twice and watch how fast wayward shepherds start toeing the line.

    One of these days we're going to have a a very gentle Pope but who also "rules with an iron rod".

  15. anabel2:56 AM

    Here is my respectful, pastoral attitude to the Bishops of Belgium, in the words of Christ: "GET BACK YOU SATAN!"

    Come, oh Lord, gather all of thy strength and come to save us!

  16. I read a write up recently on the Adass (ultra-)Orthodox Jews in Melbourne. They are thriving are having more than enough children to offset the relatively low number of apostates.

    ANYWAY, far from becoming liberal and accommodating, they have gotten stricter in living memory.

  17. Stijn R.A.J. Calle9:18 AM

    As a Belgian, I can testify that the text is heretic, and not compatible with the depostium fidei. The signatories, many of them religious, are, technically speaking, heretics. They deny dogmatic truths in the name of 'doubt' (with is only a stylistic element used to diplomatically state the non-exceptance of a point of faith)

  18. Empty words of an empty mind. That is this response.

  19. One of the positive results of the abuse scandals is that 'the 60s never end' progressivist clergy are increasingly realizing that the party's over.

  20. Malta said:

    "I do my work trying to convert them (both the protestants and Deists among them); it's a heavy task, but I am up to it! I'm dealing with JDs, PHDs,"


    I fight the flesh.
    The world's no test.
    When I fight the devil
    I'm at my best.

    But combat boots,
    Size 8 for me,
    I wear when I fight the

    ...or modernist theology!

  21. Andrew12:53 PM

    I really don't understand people who petition for such changes. I mean, if they don't believe in the Catholic Faith and the teachings of the Church then why don't they become Anglican? I mean they can have everything they want in that communion. But they don't. This says to me that their rants for change have more to do with ego and power than faith. Essentially,they want everyone to believe as they do. They don't have to be Catholic. They are free to leave.

  22. Andrew said:

    "Essentially,they want everyone to believe as they do."

    No they don't...they want to destroy Holy Mother Church!

  23. Andrew,

    That is the most rational thing to do, but it's not about rationality. It's about two things self justification and about getting rid of opposition to their view.

    If they just become Anglican, they will still be condemned by the Catholic Church that used to be a part of them and their family. This hurts. It's must more comforting to believe that the Catholic Church is wrong and that they are on the vanguard of "saving" the Church.

    If they become Anglican, they can be anti-Catholic but they can't destroy it since they are on the outside. It's the opposite case of the SSPX which is hindered in their evangelism of Tradition to the Catholic Church because of their irregular status.

  24. Ad Altare Dei6:52 PM

    And the fruits of Vatican II are...?

  25. Why don't these people just become Protestants? Why want to change the Church?

  26. Picard8:10 PM


    In Germany the statistics are nearly the same (or worse). There is the official stats-material of the German Bishop Conference. I do not have a link right now, but I think you could find it on the homepage of the "Deutsche Bischofskonferenz".
    In the 50ies it was more than 50% regular Mass attend., nowdays also only about 5% [and regularily now means you go to Church, well, most of the Sundays, whilst in the 50ies it meant all Sundays!]

    Stijn Calle,
    are you member of Lovania Loewen? - If yes: Dann kennen wir uns, ich war Gast auf einer Eurer Kneipen, kenne J. Mersch gut und die Kirchliche Umschau ... beste Grüße aus Deutschland!

  27. Picard8:34 PM


    here is one link

    For 2007 it speaks of ca. 14% Mass attend. - so more than 5%.
    I do not know the actual stats there - but I meant to remember that it was only 5%. But if 2007 14% is right, then nowdays it will be some more than 5%.

  28. Picard8:46 PM

    here the statistics till 2010.

    In 2010 it has 12.6% Mass att. in Germany (but I mean to remember that other statistics show lower percentage)

  29. Gratias6:38 AM

    "Much is asked from those with pastoral responsibility. We no longer have the social position nor the impact which we had in the past." It appears the Belgian Bishops feel very sorry for themselves; they should try offering the Traditional Mass in every parish if they wanted to reverse attendance.

    Women Priests are exactly the wrong direction to take. The reforms of the Freemasons are at the root of the problem.


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