97% of Flemish churches still in use

A survey carried out on behalf of the Flemish Heritage Minister Geert Bourgeois (nationalist) by the Centre for Religious Art and Culture (CRAC) has found that Mass is still celebrated in all but 3% of the churches in our region. One or more weekly Sunday services are provided in half or all Flemish churches.

The aim of the survey was to find how to what extent churches in our region are used. The figures from the survey destroy the popular perception that many church buildings are hardly if ever used.

CRAC’s Jan Jaspers told the VRT that "In the past church doors remained open and people could run in and out. However, to prevent thefts, many churches have opted only to open their doors while they are being used for a service. This of course gives people the impression that the churches are closed which is not the case.”

97% of all church buildings are still used for services. However, some are used more than others. Falling congregations mean that a weekly Sunday Mass is celebrated in just 49% of Flemish Churches. Meanwhile, Baptisms marriages and funeral services are still celebrated in 91% of churches.

The general state of the churches is also good. The state of 61% of church buildings is described as "good", 35% as “reasonable” and 3% as “bad”. 75% of churches open their doors to other activities than religious services such as concerts, exhibitions and lectures.

Plans currently exist to change the use of 9% of churches. A third of this would be used by other religions than the Roman Catholic Church, while two-thirds would be used for non-religious activities. Up until just 20 churches have been deconsecrated in Flanders, which is far fewer than in other parts of Europe.