What’s Wrong with Belgium?

There is something beautiful about Belgium if one thinks of the Flemish architecture, the canals, the countryside dotted with blue-grey cows that produce the milk that makes the whipped cream (in Flemish Slagroom) for the cafes and patisseries.  There are country lanes with bicycles and villages with medieval churches and towns with great works of Christian art.  There’s Van Eyck’s Adoration of the Lamb and the venerated relic of Holy Blood allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders. However, against all this natural beauty and fine works of art, including the artistic works of the pastry chefs and the lace-makers, there is something deeply sinister about this country. Its Catholic culture has been trashed by a couple of generations of intellectuals at war with their own heritage.

I first visited Belgium in 2004 to attend a theology conference in Leuven.  The conference Mass was the most bizarre liturgical experience of my life.  It did not take place in any of the many churches in Leuven but in the conference room itself.  Part of the ritual took the form of watching a video of the September 11 attack on the twin towers while listening to mood music.  One of the participants from Holland was dressed in a folk costume and looked like a member of the band The Village People.  There was also a Nigerian priest who was treated like an idiot because he expressed respect for Cardinal Arinze.  I took some flak for being critical of the culture of modernity and one polite person apologized to me by saying, “you see, around here people think of you as an ally of Joseph Ratzinger”!

My overall impression was that Leuven was like a town that had been hit by a neutron bomb—the kind of bomb that kills people but leaves buildings intact.  All the Gothic buildings remained—the outward symbols of a once vibrant Catholic culture were still on view as tourist attractions—but the people who worked within the buildings seemed not to be the original inhabitants, but another people who had moved in after some terrible cataclysm and were ill at ease with what had gone before.  Our Lady, the Seat of Wisdom, and Patroness of Leuven, appeared marginalized.

A few years later I attended another theology conference, this time in Krakow.  A Belgian professor delivered the keynote address in the hall of the Polish Academy of the Arts and Sciences.  He veered off topic and gave a rousing oration in favor of the projects of the culture of death (eugenics, euthanasia, a tax on babies etc).  He even argued that anyone who opposed contraception should be convicted of a criminal offense.  Not all the conference participants were supporters of Humanae Vitae, but they were completely shocked that such an anti-life and totalitarian speech could be given in the hall of the Polish Academy just a couple of hours drive from Auschwitz.  What stunned the participants was the closeness of the ideology of the speaker to that of the Nazi ideologues whose specters (metaphorically speaking) still haunt the streets of Krakow.  A quick Google search revealed that the illustrious academic had been Jesuit educated in Antwerp and was a product of the University of Leuven.  A more recent Google search revealed that last year he ended his life by being given a lethal injection in the presence of his children.  He at least had the virtue of practicing what he preached, but I wondered how someone who was Jesuit educated in the 1930s could end up in such a spiritual state.  In an interview given not long before his death he said that religion is nonsense, a childish explanation for things that science has yet to fathom.  At some moment in his life he had bought the Feuerbachian critique.

Last year one of the worst songs in the entire Eurovision contest was the entry from Belgium.  It was called “Love Kills.” The refrain of the song was:

Waiting for the bitter pill
Give me something I can feel
‘Cause love kills over and over
Love kills over and over

Whatever this means exactly it’s a radical inversion of the normal juxtaposition of love with life and generativity.  Other countries offered the usual assortment of Eurovision styles, some heavy metal, some punk, a few soft ballads, but the Belgian entry stood out as something very dark and creepy, a culture of death pop song.

Poor King Philippe is now in a position of having to decide what to do about the fact that his government has voted in favor of euthanasia for children.  Many hope that he will follow the precedent of his saintly uncle King Baudouin who in 1990 abdicated for a day rather than have his name on pro-abortion legislation.  At the time King Baudouin rhetorically asked: Is it right that I am the only Belgian citizen to be forced to act against his conscience in such a crucial area? Is the freedom of conscience sacred for everyone except for the king?

The hospital in Brussels where sick children are to be “put down” is named in honor of Queen Fabiola, the widow of King Baudouin. Presumably she doesn’t want her name associated with an institution that gives lethal injections to children. Perhaps she will withdraw permission for the use of her name from the hospital?

What went wrong?  How can a nation that is even nominally Catholic do this?  Can all this be pinned on the theology of Edward Schillebeeckx and his colleagues who wanted to correlate theology to the spirit of the times, to accommodate Catholicism to modernity?  Or is the causality much more complex?  Why is Belgium in so much worse a state than even France or Germany?

In the wake of this parliamentary decision bloggers from across the English Channel are suggesting that the British defense of Belgium in World War I was a huge waste of life and time.  If the Belgians really desire a culture of death they could have settled for Prussian domination a century earlier and saved the rest of the world a whole lot of trauma.

King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola may not have been able to protect the Catholic culture of Belgium from the zeitgeist of the 1960s but at least they took an unambiguous stand against it.  Some battles can’t be won politically, only spiritually, and sometimes the political victories follow decades and even centuries of spiritual preparation.  For example, historians now say that the decade of the Great Novena (from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s) was the spiritual, intellectual and even logistical preparation for the emergence of the Polish Solidarity movement in the 1980s.

The current predicament in which King Philippe finds himself is but another moment in a battle which began sometime in the 1960s when Belgian intellectuals decided that the Catholic faith had passed its use-by date.  Let’s pray that King Philippe has the courage to stand in solidarity with his late uncle, and all those throughout the world who believe that human life is sacred.  Let’s hope that he looks as this from the perspective of eternity.

Tracey Rowland


Professor Tracey Rowland is Dean and Permanent Fellow of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family (Melbourne). She earned her doctorate in philosophy from Cambridge University and her Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. She is the author of Culture and the Thomist Tradition after Vatican II (2003), Ratzinger’s Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI (2008) and most recently, Benedict XVI: A Guide for the Perplexed (2010).

  • ForChristAlone

    You might direct this piece to the Bishop of Rome. Under his authority, he has the wherewithal to begin the serious renewal and re-evangelization of the people of Belgium. It can begin with assigning courageous bishops who approach the faith with zeal. I do not recall one Belgian bishop speaking out against euthanizing children.

    Lastly, let’s remember that first they murder the pre-born, then they murder the children. Then they will come for those who do abortions and who came up with the euthanasia idea. Did not the revolutionaries in 18th c France have their turn on the guillotine?

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Under the Concordat of 1827, Belgian bishops are elected by the cathedral chapter of the diocese or archdiocese. Even though the Concordat was abrogated in 1833, these provisions continue in force.

      The Holy See can, of course, quash an election, but prefers to rely on quiet diplomacy, for the scandal would be considerable.

      A similar practice prevails in some of the German and Swiss dioceses.

      • ForChristAlone

        The times they are ‘achangin. Obviously, this arrangement has not worked. These countries have lost the faith and need to be evangelized once more. The only question is whether the bishops are up to the challenge.

      • Paul Frantizek

        Considering just how degenerate Belgian society has become, the Church ought simply assign bishops as they see fit and refuse to seat any others.

        If that doesn’t work the Church ought to seriously considering withdrawing from Belgium. Acceding to this sort of thing is simply impossible to justify, evangelization or no.

        • TheAbaum

          Luke 9:3-5?

          • Paul Frantizek

            Shake the dust from your feet and move on to more receptive fields.

            Sad to see the Church engaging with such depravity and pointless too since, as the recent UN Report demonstrates, nothing short of renouncing her beliefs and mission will make the secular world ‘like’ the Catholic Church.

    • Maggie Sullivan

      The bishop of Rome would, has, and does support much of the “modernism” of the intellectuals….after all we should not “obsess” about these issues and of course “who are we to judge.”

      • The Truth Will Set You Free

        Unfortunately, my thoughts exactly 🙁

      • RuariJM

        The full quote was (and remains) “Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?”

        I understand why the enemies of the Church and those who wish to undermine its teaching would omit the latter part of that statement but I am puzzled as to why those who claim to be strong and fervent supporters of Catholicism feel that they too should join in with the distortion.

        Anyone who knows anything about Catholic theology, from the most basic catechism onwards, knows that that statement is far from a blanket approval; indeed, as I pointed out to somebody only the other day, it is very heavily barbed, very much a two-edged sword.

        From where I am standing, the fault lies with those who deliberately misinterpret the statement – and with Catholics who should know better – not with the Pope himself.

        But… As I am far from perfect myself, who am I to judge what is in another’s heart?

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          The addendum is silly, because it focuses on precisely what we can never know, whether someone is seeking the Lord “in good faith,” while trivializing the former, the objective evil they are promoting. That is why the whole comment is disastrous and demoralizing for true Catholics.

          • RuariJM

            The addendum is not silly, Dr Williams; it is essential, in both senses of the word.

            • Marcelus

              You will find many papabili here. People who can teach the Pope some theology

              • RuariJM

                I’ve noticed, Marcellus!

                Thank goodness there are so many, just waiting for the opportunity yo set him right!


          • ForChristAlone

            Yes, indeed. One has to do with the private internal forum (seeking god in one’s heart) and the other, as you say, is an objective moral evil. Odd juxtaposition and accounts for why there is so much confusion when Francis speaks about moral issues.

            • RuariJM

              Are you sure that it is the Pope who is confusing, not the listeners who confuse themselves, because they are not hearing what they want to hear?

      • Marcelus

        Maggie “the bishop of Rome” has extensively spoken about life ,abortionand many other issues both as Pope and even more as archbsp of Buenos Aires. Do not cling to these 2 phrases only. Look closely please

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          And, like all Vatican II prelates, he has undermined his own Catholic expressions by never doing anything to enforce Catholic orthodoxy, to discipline bad clerics, bad politicians, etc. Sadly, Francis is part of the problem, not the solution.

          • Marcelus

            Francis has been Pope for less then a year. Give him time. These bishops clerics and all you mention date back to Benedict and JP2 times. Though I take it many will not be very much pleased no matter what he does ever. Give him time

            • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

              Bergoglio was a bishop for a long time. Can you name a single action he ever took to enforce orthodoxy in his diocese?

              • Marcelus

                How do you consider Archbishop Chaput?

          • RuariJM

            Didn’t he defrock and excommunicate some mouthy Aussie just the other week?

        • Maggie Sullivan

          Francis has absolutely refused to discipline the left wing dissenting priests, nuns, and bishops….but he booted the Bishop in Germany out of his diocese for a perception he spent to much money…the reality is he was the only conservative Bishop in Germany and the liberals wanted him out.

          Francis has done nothing as the liberal German Bishops have told people who are remained outside the Church they can receive the Eucharist.

          In Spain we have a priest who is telling people it is a duty to abort disabled children and a nun who is publically claiming abortion should be legal.

          The Bishop in Florida who is promoting contraception and the dozen or so American universities who have pro-abortion clubs.

          Combine this with Francis and his destruction of the traditional Francisican order because they use the Latin Mass and we have a very monderenest Pope.

          Have you had a chance to read the Pope Francis book of insults? These vicious insults are directed at faith-full Catholics……Francis is in reality a very mean and vicious man to those he doesn’t like. http://thatthebonesyouhavecrushedmaythrill.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-pope-francis-little-book-of-insults.html

          • Dr. Timothy J. Williams


          • Marcelus

            In all honesty do you really feel this way ? He may not and I believe will not be looking into each and every particular case . One priest… one bishop. And all according to this very particular point of view. Popes book of insults? Are you really believing this seriously? On the Franciscan order issue please look up your sources. . They were not banned from TLM just need permission from their bishop since they refused to celebrate the other valid form of celebration the NO mass. Look what Castrillon said about this. Reading this sorry but makes me feel we belong to different churches. Such hatred distilled towards Peter. Where Peter is there is my church. Please review your Catholicism. Calling him a vicious man and mean???? By the way your German bishop leaves a lot to be said. To turn that into deology is too sad. That bishop is far from the church needs.

          • novellus

            As a German citizen, I’m sorry that I have to correct some of your claims.
            The bishop of Limburg was not the only conservative bishop in Germany, If your assessment would have been right, the charge of the liberals would have gone more likely against the Archbishop of Cologne. In fact regarding such hot topics like

            abortion or euthanasia, the former bishop of Limburg is not remembered for regular contributions, very different to his superior in Cologne. I think the media has painted him more conservative to say that conservatives are so irresponsible and squanderers of money protectors of pedophile priests and so on…

        • Maggie Sullivan

          But these two phrases do stand…he said them and never backed away from them.

          These two phrases have been and will be used for decades to promote the culture of death…….and Francis knows this.

          In Illinois where i am from these two phrases were used by Catholic politicians to pass gay marriage….without these two phrases gay marriage would not have passed in Illinois.

          Silence from francis when this happened………silence

          • Marcelus

            Maggie please do not blame him for what this heretics in Illinois have done. I know the case. In all honesty assuming that Francis is promoting far marriage or abortion is closing your eyes to the truth. I do not think he follows locally everything that goes on everywhere. Imagine some politician in Illinois tries to pass legislation on Islam making the qram mandatory reading in schools because Benedict said it was a holy book which he did. Popes say lots of things . Everyone clings to this and that depending on views. And your politicians are not catholics if they support that.

            • Maggie Sullivan

              Pope Francis comments again used to justify sin and leaves this good Priest in a very difficult position.

              • Marcelus

                Guess we’ll see what happens in the end based on the results of the recent worldwide poll carried out by the church. Above 80% approve Francis papacy but and this is what worries me : most catholics in Europe 67% if I recall, and from where most of the results are coming out, think that church teaching on abortion, ssm, celibacy and so on , are outdated so we will have to watch out for that. Honesty I do not see Francis as changing anything regarding that. By the way you are American, let me ask you how and where do you place archbsp Chaput?

  • Brian O’Leary

    “If the Belgians really desire a culture of death they could have settled for Prussian domination a century earlier and saved the rest of the world a whole lot of trauma.”

    Compare the evolution of German abortion laws over the 20th century (yes, even including Communist-Marxist East Germany) to those of the UK and USA. East and West Germany were slow to catch up with the barbaric abortion practices introduced by both American and Britain. Clearly, the culture of death which exists in the western world today comes from these barbaric countries, not “Prussia” (Prussia ceased to exist over 40 years before WWI).

    • rod mason

      Interesting contrast; the U.K., which started out as Catholic, then degenerated into protestantized Anglicanism, now on the road to neupaganism, and the U.S., a protestant-founded nation with a sprinkling of Catholicism, are the nations that seem to have started all this modern war on the innocent unborn; the unconscious or unintended “fruits” of secularized Protestantism?

      • Art Deco

        Um. No. Abortion was lawful in Scandanavia before it was here. In this country, public policy was democratically enacted in only four states. We have abortion on demand because of judicial misfeasance.

      • musicacre

        Don’t forget Canada in which the European Catholics evangelized the Natives; now we are paying loads of money (they already have a tax-payer-funded lifetime.) to them and giving formal apologies around the country for “culturally” abusing them.

    • Almario Javier

      Correct. Germany as a whole only legalized abortion in 1994. Not East Germany, though, which legalized the practice the same year as the United States did (though the first state to legalize, New York, of course did so in 1967). Of course, even then, they had substantial restrictions on it.

      Which brings us to a larger picture on that issue – most European countries, Britain and Scandinavia excepted (Spain too, but it seems this will no longer be the case by the end of the year, God willing) have abortion restrictions that are deemed odious by the American left.

      If you want the pioneers of the culture of death, look at Denmark, the United States, Canada and Britain.

      • tom

        Western Civilization is dead in Europe and North America.

        This is going to be one bloody century.

        • TheAbaum

          Which one wasn’t?

  • AlSetalokin

    A clear symptom of the cumulative effects of a prolonged “industrial disease”: homicidal madness — nay, omnicidal madness.

    Another signature development, courtesy of “the synagogue of Satan”.

  • jim

    Evil is alive and well in Belgium. A sign of these terrible times. May God have mercy on all of us !

    • TheAbaum

      Evil is alive and well everywhere and always.

  • AcceptingReality

    I would love to be accused of being an ally of Joseph Ratzinger. What a complement! I was once accused of being the philosophical offspring of Thomas Aquinas (which I assure you is a stretch, a huge stretch) but rather than feeling insulted, as was the accusers intent, I was flattered beyond belief……The deplorable spiritual disposition of Belgium seems to embody John 3:19, “…but the people loved the darkness more than the light.” They have lost all sense of beauty. It’s beauty that is evidence of real truths. Ugliness, the kind that contemplates killing the unborn and euthanizing children (or adults for that matter), is evidence of falsehood, evil. Belgium could start to recover if it’s people re-connected with the great beauty of it’s representational art. If they were open to entertaining that beauty, then the way will be prepared for the Fullness of Beauty to blossom. With God all things ARE possible!

    • sybarite123

      I do like your linking Truth with Beauty. It echoes the famous line, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty—that is all / Ye know on Earth, and all ye need to know.” (John Keats, Ode to a Grecian Urn).
      The Boston College Philosopher Peter Kreeft, a Catholic convert at age 26, in his You Tube explanation of his conversion, relates how his Father took him to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC when he was a boy. Astonished at the beauty of the Cathedral, the young Kreeft asked his Father who was a staunch Protestant, how he could explain that if Catholics were wrong, how could they build such beauty?
      I forget the Father’s explanation, but, as I understand it, it was the beginning of Peter Kreeft’s conversion. Thanks for allowing me to add this footnote. A retired Catholic priest in Canada.

      • AcceptingReality

        Peter Kreeft is one of my favorite authors. Also, on the subject of Truth and Beauty, Fr. Thomas Doubay, SM wrote a fascinating book entitled “The Evidential Power of Beauty – Where Theology and Science Meet”. Great read.

      • VincentC

        Then clearly his father’s explanation failed to include the fact that “they could build such beauty” because of the heavy taxes they imposed on the illiterate peasantry, using the everpresent threat of hell as motivation.

        His father might also have pointed out that St. Peter’s Basilica, Catholicism’s most important church, was funded by the sale of indulgences – a moral outrage by any measure. It’s strange Peter’s father didn’t know this, since disputes over indulgences were a principal factor in the rise of Protestantism.

        What a bizarre way to choose a religion – by basing it on the beauty of buildings. Lucky for Peter he didn’t see the Blue Mosque or the Golden Temple in Amritsar before he made his choice.

        • sybarite123

          Thanks for your comments. It’s always nice to listen to a bigot.

    • Gail Finke

      “…but the people loved the darkness more than the light.” A lot of people embody this today.

  • DD

    The usual relativism. Always tends towards tyranny.

  • ” He at least had the virtue of practicing what he preached, but I wondered how someone who was Jesuit educated in the 1930s could end up in such a spiritual state. ”

    The answer to your wondering seems to be in the words “Jesuit educated”, in my experience. I don’t know what went wrong with Jesuit education in the 20th century, but the majority of the more liberal cafeteria catholics I know all claim to be “Jesuit educated”.

    • Objectivetruth

      Not all, Ted. The Jesuits gave me a love of the Catechism, encyclicals, and the authority of the Church. I’ll agree with you that the state of the Jesuits saddens me, but what they do still well is to continue asking life questions that can only be found in the teaching authority of the Church. One of my favorite Jesuits planted the seed in me by saying “no matter what you come up against in your life, turn to the Catholic Church to see what it teaches.”

      • I know there are a few holdouts- Pope Francis being one, once you start reading about the speeches he’s given that the media doesn’t report on.

        But over and over again, I run into pro-choice, pro-euthanasia Catholics who claim to have been educated by Jesuits. There is something *very* wrong in the way Jesuits are educating people. I’m not sure if it is the asking of questions that leads people to dissent rather than to obedience, but it seems more and more, I run into people who do indeed turn to the Catholic Church to see what it teaches- and then reject what the Catholic Church teaches in full knowledge that they are rejecting Truth.

        • Don Lederhos

          I was educated by the Jesuits, and I have a deep faith that makes me fight and pray for an end to all of this liberal nonsense. One of the problems I see us that there is far too little Jesuit influence in our Jesuit institutions. Not only are a lot if the professors not catholic, they are an example of the moral depravity that we as catholics are talking about here on this site. In 1976, I argued with my non Jesuit professor Dr. Heinz Klatt, when he said that mentally retarded people have no worth. At that time, non Jesuit Profs were a minority. You csn only imagine what it is like now that they are the majority. Unfortunately, not only is a similar ratio is to be found now in the general population, they are instructing our new clergy. Let us all pray unceasingly!

          • ThirstforTruth

            This preponderance of non-Catholic faculty at many of the so-called Catholic colleges and universities has certainly been a huge factor in the turning away from obedience to truth. However, to address the Jesuit problem, we see something totally different, in the matter of the so called “situation ethics” taught by and in Jesuit institutions during the late 50’s and all through the 60’s wherein ultimately every individual becomes a little god unto himself. This philosophy is so detrimental to the idea of the humility and obedience required of every Catholic and it has devastated our Church. Within that philosophy where everyone decides ultimately for himself matters of morality lies the modernists mind and heart.

            • musicacre

              Just another flavor and repetition of the Protestant objective; to do away with “objective ” truth…. The Modernists exist solely, to willfully exterminate the Catholic faith.

        • Objectivetruth

          I will agree with you partially, but not fully. That said, I’d rather these days send my children (and my hard earned money) to Franciscan, Ave Maria, Thomas Aquinas, Wyoming Catholic over a Jesuit university. And it breaks my heart to say that!

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      We should not overlook the fact that the Society produced some of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, Joseph Maréchal, Cardinal Henri de Lubac, Cardinal Jean Daniélou, Claude Mondésert, Karl Rahner, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Cardinal Avery Dulles, to name only the most distinguished.

      • Let’s take a close look at that list of names:

        Joseph Maréchal – who tried to merge St. Thomas Aquinas with the intensely anti-Catholic Immanuel Kant, resulting in many novel additions to Catholic theology.

        Cardinal Henri de Lubac- whose books in the 1950s were banned by Rome for teaching error.

        Cardinal Jean Daniélou- who died at the house of a prostitute and for whom a cover story was invented.

        Claude Mondésert- who worked with Cardinal de Lubac in his research into Early Church Fathers

        Karl Rahner- inventor of Transcendental Christology and under censorship for a period before his involvement in Vatican II

        Hans Urs von Balthasar- the Universalist, or as close as any Catholic has come to denying the existence of hell.

        Cardinal Avery Dulles- who opposed punishing academics who taught against the church on sexual issues.

        Are these the men you are holding up as solidly Orthodox? Because from my point of view, while very intelligent and influential and in some cases courageously fighting for what they see as Truth, they’re part of the problem with the Jesuit insistence on Academic Freedom that I see as being directly contrary to the Vow of Obedience to the Pope that all Jesuits take.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          The red hat was conferred on Cardinals de Lubac and Daniélou and on Cardinal Yves Congar OP by Pope John Paul II precisely to vindicate their orthodoxy, Hans Urs von Balthasar was nominated, but died before it could be conferred

          As De Lubac said”Latin theology’s return to a more authentic tradition has taken place–not without some jolts, of course–in the course of the last century” and he also spoke of “the dualist theory that was destroying Christian thought” against which he and his companions fought for 50 years.

          Along with Mari-Dominique Chenu OP, the Oratorian Louis Bouyer and the lay philosophers, Maurice Blondel and Jacques Maritain, they ended the reign of the manualists,

          It was their labours that, under grace, made the Second Vatican Council possible.

          • But let us not forget that the Second Vatican Council itself is not universally acclaimed as orthodox. And there have been many scoundrels to wear the red cap of a cardinal in the past, as there will be in the future.

            I for one am extremely skeptical about experimental theology and those who engage in it. The sins that have come out of germanic philosophy are legion.

          • accelerator

            The Manualists… meaning orthodox theologians. Blondel, Chenu…. dubious at best. De Lubac… good luck deciphering him amidst his mirror house of paradoxes. Typically faithful Catholics intuitively can tell something is wrong in these guys writings. It takes academics to insist on their New Clothes. THEN everyone starts to see them.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              The woeful deficiency of the Manualists was well described by Maurice Blondel (in 1907!): First, the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock”

              This is precisely the “the dualist theory” that Cardinal Henri de Lubac said “was destroying Christian thought”

          • Percy Gryce

            Daniélou was created cardinal by Paul VI. His patristic syntheses are masterful. He is my favorite of the nouvelle theologians.

  • Ita Scripta Est

    Belgium is the head of the Euro-zone snake. Are you watching Ukraine? This is what the EU’s “progress” will bring you.

  • daisy

    If you look at what happened in the former Belgian Congo there was plenty of evil already floating around but what really happened to Belguim was WWII. People think Germany lost but actually everybody lost. The damage to souls, minds and will was tremendous.

    • Vincent

      Good comment, the effects of WWII are seldom discussed. We know about the evils that were perpetrated but not so much about how it changed our ontological understanding. The damage was tremendous indeed, though I would be at a loss to fully explain why or in what ways the soul, mind and will was damaged. It would be great to understand this better.

      • Albert

        I agree. The horrors of two world wars left Europe bewildered and cynical. Modernists believe that they have the answer to suffering. Unfortunately they demonize the only institution that can offer the most fundamental healing of the soul: the Church

      • That’s why the Second Vatican Council is odd. It’s contrary to the experiences of the 20th century.

  • Michael Petek

    When you said that, in the wake of this parliamentary decision bloggers from across the
    English Channel are suggesting that the British defense of Belgium in
    World War I was a huge waste of life and time, you must have been referring to http://www.protectthepope.com

    I make no apology for having suggested on that blog that it was a waste of blood and treasure for Britain to send her young men to die for Belgium. The day the King’s signature goes on this odious legislation will be the day when Hitler wins the war from beyond the grave. The nation which provided the Waffen-SS with two divisions is a nation of barbarians which ought to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

  • Bernonensis

    I hope the description of King Baudoun as “saintly” is an example of irony. A true saint would really abdicate, not cling to the sad joke of Christian kingship in a godless land.

  • rod mason

    What amazes me about this evil situation in Belgium and by extension the rest of what’s left of the European West is the delusionality of it all. Can these “Catholic” intellectuals really believe that killing innocent children by infanticide, which is really what’s going on through the use of the fancy name ‘euthanasia,’ is a solution to their predicament or affliction, to kill someone in the name of “compassion” really solves anything? It would seem a very evil spirit is loose in Belgium, one akin to the evil spirits in Mexico before Our Lady came to Juan Diego, and the conversion of the people took place, making Mexico a Catholic country. The only problem with that, however, is that Belgium is already Catholic, although nominally. So what gives? Why would rational (?) people allow such a law to take effect? It’s outright MURDER, it’s false compassion of steroids, in other words, delusional. The Lord help Belgium, and also Holy Mary, Co-Redemptrix of the human race.

    • It is precisely people who think they are rational, that are pushing for this- those who are rational without faith, are doomed to lose ethics as well.

  • cestusdei

    They have essentially renounced the faith and embraced the evil one. Eventually they will suffer the consequences of that act. Perhaps then they will return to the fold.

  • poetcomic1

    The Duke of Luxembourg, last Catholic monarch of Europe. In December, 2008, quite unnoticed, the ‘Idea’ of Europe died.
    “After a constitutional change in December 2008 resulting from Henri’s refusal to sign a law legalizing euthanasia laws now take effect without the grand duke’s approval. As a result, the grand duke is no longer even the nominal chief executive of Luxembourg.”

    • justin

      Not so…the Principality of Liechtenstein remains!

    • musicacre

      To “overthrow throne and altar” has been the marching tune and motto for the masons with the first really noticeable victory, the French Revolution. Their march continues unabated, across borders, unimpeded. Catholics should have noticed a long time ago it won’t be secularists that save us from this scourge. Their only obstacle is people resolutely standing their ground in the name of God and holding firm to the whole unadulterated truth. Regardless of the cost. The cost of giving in little by little is robbing our children of a world with faith hope and love.

  • Linus

    Do you really think it started with the 60s? I think it is largely the result to the catonic effects of two world wars, millions of deaths by violence, massive dislocation of peoples, millions of children parents, raised by the state, the distruction of all the old solid political and social institutions, the universal betrayal and abandonment of the Jews by all of Europe. This resulted in a great moral and spiritual vacuum.

    • The 60s started in the 30s, with the embrace of eugenics. This is just the end game.

      • Yes, with Margaret Sanger and the “Klan Parenthood.”

      • Art Deco

        The embrace by whom?

        • America and Western Europe in general seemed enamoured with the topic for a while. The result was contraception, followed by divorce, the sexual revolution, abortion, and all the rest.

          • Art Deco

            That’s not an answer, Theodore.

            • It is the answer to what I was thinking. Do you have another explanation for the explosion of the use of contraception, and the resulting sexual revolution?

            • Susan

              Why should others have to do your research for you? The scholarship on eugenics, springing from the leftists of the first half of America’s 20th century (including Margaret Sanger, the Roosevelts, et al) is VOLUMINOUS, as is its connection with the Nazis, who learned about it from America. And I am not talking about preaching-to-the-choir scholarship, but even regular acdemic scholarship.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Tracey Rowland has been quite harsh, and quite condescending, in her treatment of traditionalists. And here, she expresses surprise and shock at what she sees in the Church in Belgium and in Belgian society, as if there is no connection between the degradation of the Mass and the decay of spiritual and moral life. And to talk about the “zeitgeist of the 1960s” without mentioning the revolution that took place in the Church at that time seems more than a little myopic.

    • Athelstane

      There is a chicken-or-the-egg quality to this debate, to be sure: the impoverishment of the Catholic Mass in the 1960’s impoverished the rest of Catholic life (and much beyond), undeniably. Yet it’s also true that the rot had set in well before the Consilium ever was appointed, as evidenced by Belgian theologians like Schillebeeckx, and the profusion of unauthorized anaphoras in the Belgian Church even while the Council was underway. Something had been at work in Belgian society, including the Church for decades, all the while the traditional Roman Rite was being celebrated on its altars every day (however indifferently).

      Yet its true that once the revolutionaries had their opportunity, one of their very first targets was the Mass, and the rest of the sacraments besides. They knew that the revolution could proceed apace much more quickly with such a bulwark removed from their path. And that campaign was at its most fervent in Northern Europe, in the lands drained by the Rhine, the Moselle, the Meuse, and the Seine.

      All of which is another way of saying that my main frustration with Dr. Rowland’s essay is that it does a good job of describing the symptoms, but not the causes. And those causes go back long before the disastrous liturgical revolution of the 60’s – however much that campaign greatly aided the revolutionaries’ true long term aims.

      • Art Deco

        There’s always rot. The question is what contains it. Meddling with the liturgy was (one might wager) the most destructive discrete action in the process of tearing down the sacred canopy.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          This is exactly the difference between the old Mass and the Novus Ordo. The previous Mass was NOT about the priest, his personal qualities or defects, his degree of solemnity, his understanding of and consent to doctrine, etc. It is often said that the Latin Mass is “too clerical,” when in fact the opposite is true. It is the Novus Ordo that is clerical, because the personality of the priest dominates the entire proceeding. Sure, there were bad, unbelieving priests who said the old Mass before Vatican II. But it didn’t undermine the faith of anyone. With the Novus Ordo, however, a priest’s faithlessness completely destroys the catholicity of the Mass.

          • Art Deco

            I suspect it is less the text than the cultural matrix in which the text arrived and the habits and customs which have arisen around it.

            Anglican vicars (and their choirmasters) manage fairly dignified vernacular liturgies (and are generally versus populum). The Episcopal Church adopted a new prayer book in 1979 (after six years of transitional volumes), but the modifications were more retail, there were only incremental adaptations in hymnals, and all Church music remained traditional and accompanied only by the organ if at all. The largest change in Anglican practice was the adoption of weekly communion. The Morning Prayer service which had been modal prior to 1970 largely disappeared.

            I think you would have to scrabble to find an Anglican vicar who was actually something resembling an orthodox ‘mere Christian’ as C.S. Lewis understood the term.

    • Susan

      No, that is TOTALLY unfair. Tracey Rowland ATTENDS extraordinary form masses. The ONLY “traditionalists” she has spoken against are the holier-than-the-pope ones (and I am speaking of Pope Benedict XVI!) who look at you as if you were headed to Hades if you (if you are a woman) like you are headed for Hades if you are not wearing a veil (which she always does for papal masses and audiences, for example).
      She was written extensively on all these issues, and the fact that every single one is not in this one single article on Belgium means nothing. She is asking a provocative question, and showing you what is wrong, and as a faithful and very orthodox Catholic, she knows from whence the answers come.

      • ncatholic


        Dr Rowland is Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne. She is a person of some prominence in the Church in Australia.

        As chaplain for those Catholics in Melbourne attached to the Extraordinary Form, I feel compelled to offer the following observations, given that Dr Rowland claims to speak from experience:

        1. Dr Rowland rarely attends Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Melbourne – I can recall having seen her once at Mass (a Low Mass on a weekday) in the last two years;

        2. I do not recognise as present among the Catholic Faithful I am privileged to serve any of the problems she alleges in her interview.


        Fr Glen Tattersall
        Senior Chaplain,
        Catholic Community of Bl. John Henry Newman [Arch. of Melbourne, Victoria]

    • ncatholic

      Dr Rowland is Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne. She is a person of some prominence in the Church in Australia.

      As chaplain for those Catholics in Melbourne attached to the Extraordinary Form, I feel compelled to offer the following observations, given that Dr Rowland claims to speak from experience:

      1. Dr Rowland rarely attends Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Melbourne – I can recall having seen her once at Mass (a Low Mass on a weekday) in the last two years;

      2. I do not recognise as present among the Catholic Faithful I am privileged to serve any of the problems she alleges in her interview.


      Fr Glen Tattersall
      Senior Chaplain,
      Catholic Community of Bl. John Henry Newman [Arch. of Melbourne, Victoria]

  • Paul

    One of many things that differentiates us , mankind, from the animal kingdom is the ability to be compassionate towards the ill, the infirmed & the disabled. To euthanize the children deemed less able than the “abled” ones is a slippery road, for once the state starts with children they will soon end up with euthanizing adults. It is sad that we are abandoning the traits that exemplify us as “human”.

    • Vincent

      Agree, just want to add that Belgium already legally euthanizes adults, it’s the children (under 18) that’s new. The slippery slope led to children being added to the list.

  • Pingback: Why is Belgium in so much worse a state than even France or Germany? - Christian Forums()

  • Thank you, Archbishop Hunthausen, for all the death you helped institutionalize.

    • ForChristAlone

      Is he still alive?

  • Objectivetruth

    Does anyone know if this law has been acted upon? Have any families euthanized a child, and under what circumstances?

    • Objectivetruth

      ……OK….I just googled articles on the law, and I do believe I’m going to be sick to my stomach! This is incredible horror, satanic.

  • Art Deco

    Likely the same malaise and decay that seems to infect all affluent countries, with the partial exceptions of Israel, Malta, and (prior to 1990) Ireland. It was likely advanced in the Low Countries by indifferent episcopal leadership. Both Cdl. Suenens and Cdl. Willebrands were big promoters of ecumenism, Cdl. Suenens was very prominent at the 2d Vatican disaster, and the recently retired Cdl. Daneels caved on civil unions.

    • Almario Javier

      Israel has embraced the barbarism, too – under, of all things, a Government which styles itself ‘right-wing’.

      • Art Deco

        Israel is the one occidental country which has not over the last generation had fertility problems and is not in thrall to its intelligentsia and their dependents and hangers on, hence they are a ‘partial’ exception.

  • slainte

    “…The hospital in Brussels where sick children are to be “put down” is named in honor of Queen Fabiola, the widow of King Baudouin…”
    The late Queen Fabiola’s name should be removed from the hospital which will accomodate child murder.
    This would constitute a small but meaningful act of protest by the Belgian Royal family.

  • Don Campbell

    I am sure Belgium can be re-evangelized if we just quit talking about life and sexuality so much and focus on proclaiming the kerygma. Right? Riiiiiiiight!

    • ForChristAlone

      Exactly…I am wondering what, if Jesus were walking the street of Brussels these days, he might have to say about euthanizing children. I guess he’d say, “Who am I to judge?”

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        “My thoughts exactly! Ms. Rowland is obsessing about moral issues, when the Church is about so much more than that! Like driving around in an old car, and living in a modest apartment…” – Francis

  • slainte

    Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi. As we Worship, So we Believe, So we Live

  • tom

    Thanks for the warning: I’m avoiding Belgium and Ireland with its crazy government officials who hate the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

  • Frank Kerksieck Batson

    Is this a bad dream? As a Christian I am appalled and shocked. People no longer read their Bibles when confronted with matters that require measuring against God’s Word nor does it appear they have the backbone to speak out!

  • Pingback: A man from the North wanting to have control in Belgium | Marcus' s Space()

  • Pingback: Mere Links 02.19.14 - Mere Comments()

  • Charles Buxton

    Dr. Rowland paints Belgium with a wide Flemish brush but it also has a significant Walloon population. The Flemish are of Germanic extraction/culture and the Walloons are of Latin extraction/culture. There are also many descendants of Italian immigrants in the south who worked the coal mines. It is an artificially created country designed by the British to be a buffer state after the Napoleonic wars. Both Flemish and Walloon share: (1) a severe rainy climate that inclines them indoors, (2) an enmity towards each other and (3) a resultant conflicted national identity that does not inspire a citizen to seek the common good. Hence, Brussels is quite the appropriate location for the transnational EU headquarters. Grace builds upon nature and after living there for one year in 1989, I looked forward to evacuating that land of cold wind and whipping rain. The Belgians themselves take month long vacations in sunny Spain.

  • GrahamUSA

    This is a tragically ironic development given the demonstrations in the late 90s that rocked Strasbourg when Belgians protested a pedophilia scandal emanating from the UN headquarters there. (As reported by Antenne 2 and BBC World News.) But from news one hears from Germany, France etc It is obvious that the European Union is a sick place. Did we really win World War II? It’s as if the Weimar Republic (with its Berlin decadence and fashionable despair) and the Third Reich produced some squalid civic offspring.

  • Pingback: Belgian Children to Pay the Price | True Restoration News Feed()

  • Father Forgive Them…

    Morally bankrupt and spiritually dead…pure evil.

  • Pingback: Eutanasierea copiilor: o valoare europeana? | FrontPress()

  • Pingback: Eutanasierea copiilor: o valoare europeana? | Buciumul – Periodic de informaţie şi atitudine naţionalistă()

  • Pingback: At Least They Can't Blame the United States | Old Life Theological Society()

  • Pingback: Eutanasierea copiilor: o valoare europeana? | Lupul Dacic()

  • Pingback: Tracey Rowlands contemplates Belgium | Foolishness to the world()

  • Pingback: The Neutron Bomb | As the Sun in its Orb & New Goliards()

  • Etiamsi Omnes

    I am Belgian, and a student at the Catholic University of Leuven. Every day I walk amongst the ruins of catholic culture. I have skimmed the text books of the faculty of theology, and have never encountered bigger nonsense about liturgy and tradition. The churches are desecrated with provocative artwork. Under the stone eyes of the great Cardinal Mercier Marxists preach now, and the halls once dedicated to Thomism are filled with modern philosophy. Sic transit gloria mundi.

  • Shoppegirl

    Catholics, Protestants, Buddist, Scientologist, Methodists will not go to heaven…. ONLY CHRISTIANS. 🙂 Love God with all your heart, and forget the labels.

    • Objectivetruth


  • St. Ferd III

    Worked and lived in Belgium. It is not Catholic. It is secular-Marxist with a large Moslem population in Antwerp and Brussistan. There is no ethos of life and no concept of anything but evolutionary nonsense [a non-science]; convenience and right to enjoyment. Euthanasia is the twin bastard of abortion and closely linked in the pathologies of their supporters. The only surprise is that all of Europe has not embraced the tax-funded murder of those who are an inconvenience.

  • Diederik

    What happened? We fuckin moved on. Religion is outdated. The catholics brought Flanders into Francophone Belgium and then kept the Flemish population stupid and ignorant for their own sake. Thank god they’re losing grip over Belgium.

  • clayton3120 clayton3120

    Belgium is sick, to the point of death. Death of it’s heritage, it’s centuries of culture, death of itself from the inside out. I used to love to visit this country, but no more. Architecture, food, shops etc.etc. etc mean nothing when your soul is black. Good bye Belgium.