I’m liking this. Belgians are turning to apostasy in record numbers. De-baptism ceremonies — oh, the blasphemy! Belgium is a heavily Catholic country, but that’s on it’s way to a “was”. The demise of religion can’t happen fast enough, although that’s a long ways off here in the U.S.
“The pedophilia cases play a part, but it’s more that people have had enough of the positions which the Catholic Church has taken on issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality,” said Daniel Leclerq, a coordinator at the Federation of Friends of Secular Morality.
Leclerq said many people were also influenced to leave the church because of the decision by Pope Benedict XVI last year to lift the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, who has described Jews as enemies of the Church and denied the existence of the Nazi gas chambers.
Belgium was shaken by the revelation in April that the Bishop of Bruges Roger Vanhegheluwe, one of the country’s best-known clergymen, had sexually abused his own nephew for 13 years, starting when the boy was just 5 years old.
This nation of 10 million remains a mainly Catholic country, but the Church’s influence is declining. The Flemish Christian Democratic party’s defeat in 1999 elections ended generations of its political domination in the Dutch-speaking north. Since then, the country became a pioneer in legalizing same-sex marriages and euthanasia.
A poll released in January found 60 percent described themselves as Catholics, compared to 72 percent in 1980 and 68 percent in 2000. The number of practicing Catholics declined from 46 percent in 1980 to 14 percent this year, according to the poll in the daily Le Soir newspaper.
While there are countless lapsed Catholics, those who officially renounce the religion are a small but growing minority.
Belgium has a 2010 population of 10.8 million, and a population density of 918.6/mi² (world average is 131.8/mi² (119.4 if you include Antarctica). The U.S. population is 310.3 millon with a density of 81.7/mi².
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