The Roman Catholic Church in Belgium has been hit by one of its most dramatic drops in baptisms in decades, a survey has said, with less than 50 percent of children undergoing the ritual last year.
Evangelical Focus reported on Wednesday that the survey, which is to be released later this year, was commissioned by the Bishops Conference of Belgium, and confirms that parents have a diminishing interest in traditional relationships with the Church.
The decline in baptisms was reportedly highest in Brussels, the nation’s capital, which has seen a 32 percent drop since 2010, and it was also significant in Antwerp, which saw a 31 percent decline. What is more, overall church attendance has dropped to less than 10 percent.
Geert De Kerpel, spokesman of the Bishops Conference, said that the results were negative, but insisted there is no need for panic.
“Like any other organization, we would prefer a growth rather than a decline, but we will not start a promotional campaign,” he said.
“In the society we see an evolution from a church to which people belonged automatically to a group of people that choose consciously to be part of the church. When people are really convicted they specifically decide to have their children baptized and they will stimulate them to belong to the church.”
De Kerpel suggested that “new ways of believing” are needed in a country which was once a Catholic stronghold, but like many other Western European nations, has seen a notable rise of the non-religious.
“We aim to do what the first disciples of Jesus did: to be authentic Christians — a church offering the alternative that people are looking for, a church that is authentic and exciting,” the spokesman said.
The steady increase of immigrants in Belgium was credited for the growth of both the evangelical and Muslim communities.
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Source: Christian Post