Metropolis 2012 – the New Evangelisation comes to Brussels

Picked to be one of eleven starting points for the new evangelisation in western Europe, the city of Brussels, self-styled capital of Europe and biggest urban area of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels and as such the heartland of Belgian Catholicism, prepares itself for the Metropolis project, starting in Lent of 2012. The official website of the Church in Brussels and Flanders, Kerknet, offers a first glimpse at the plans which, it admits, are not fully developed yet.

Part of the work is expected to take place in local parish communities, but the faith will also have a larger visible presence in the city. Well-known citizens of Brussels will be reading out the entire Gospel of Mark, both in real life in the Notre-Dame du Finistère church and via a big screen in the busy Nieuwstraat. Churches will be open on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, and the example of the World Youth Days will be follows as both Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard and Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols will host catechesis meetings with young people, newly baptised adults and young parents wishing to have their child baptised.

A starting point, surely, that will make the Catholic faith visible once more. Let’s pray that the momentum to be gained here will be used fully to propel the new evangelisation into the future.

Photo credit: Philippe Massart

A first sense of closure in the abuse crisis

As the year draws to a close, and the final report from the Deetman Committee comes ever closer, the abuse crisis reaches a first form of closure, Kerknieuws reports. The first fifty victims of sexual abuse by Catholic religious or clergy are now able to request financial compensation. Their cases have completed the entire process and have been deemed open to financial compensation according to the five categories I discussed here earlier. If a victim decides to apply for the compensation, a board of five lawyers will decide in which category their case falls and the amount of money, ranging from 5,000 to 100,000 euros, they will receive. The victims in questions were abused as minors and have completed the entire legal process established over the course of the past year. Dozens more victims will soon be notified of the completion of their process.

The fact that we have now reached this stage, is due to the focus on swiftness that the Deetman Committee has been pressing for. In their judgement, they deemed that a swift handling of these cases, some of which are about things that happened many decades ago, would be more beneficial to all involved than, say, a focus on the height of the financial compensation. Hence the five-tier structure of compensation, which has caused raised eyebrows in some quarters.

Victims are not obliged to make use of the structure now in place, but they are free to do so. And it seems that many indeed want to. Some people have been leading their lives with this trauma weighing heavily on them, that I can imagine that this recognition and compensation is a tremendous relief and remedy.