Exodus from Roman Catholic Church quickens

The number of people who cancelled their Roman Catholic baptism and left the Church of Rome in Belgium last year quadrupled in comparison with 2020. 84 new cases of alleged sexual abuse linked to the church were reported.

Last year 5,237 people filed to have their baptism cancelled according to figures in the latest annual report from the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium.  This compares with only 1,261 in 2020.

The number of people being baptised too is in free fall with only 36,834 baptisms last year- down 5,217 since 2019. 

4,032 people had a church wedding – down from 5,971 in 2019.

The annual report of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium paints a picture of a church that is rich in diversity: twenty percent of the 2,299 clerics and parish assistants are of foreign heritage.  178 parishes are led by a Congolese cleric, 20 by Polish clerics.

Belgium boasts 150 Roman Catholic communities where a Belgian national language is not the main language: these include Polish, Filipino, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese and Ukrainian communities. They receive the support of the Catholic Church that provides or shares church buildings.

This year’s report identifies 86 new cases of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.  In three-quarters of cases the alleged abuse occurred over 30 years ago.  Most alleged perpetrators are men.  64% are dead at the time of reporting.

40 alleged cases of abuse are said to have happened in schools, 20 in parishes. Three of the alleged victims were altar boys at the time.  The church alerted the judicial authorities to 13 cases and paid out financial compensation to 28 people.

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