Modernist plans for a Church without Priests in Belgium

No, we don't want a Church without priests

We would like to react and oppose the content of a brochure published by nine people from Liège who plead for the abolition of the clergy.

The aging of the clergy was predictable. Christians are preparing to remedy this. In order to relieve the ever-decreasing number of clerks, they give priority to legal, administrative, financial and above all social services.

Victim of revolution 1800

Regarding the latter, it should be emphasized from the outset (by barely plagiarizing Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's reply to François Mitterrand) that "Christians do not have a monopoly on the heart"!

In other words, generosity and sharing are not enough to distinguish the disciple from Christ. The horizontal axis of the cross certainly symbolizes love of neighbor, but it is supported by the vertical beam which, planted in the reality of the ground, rises towards God. What really differentiates the disciple of Jesus from the philanthropist is the conviction that human love (comprised of compassion and mutual aid but also of gift and forgiveness) is not of human origin but comes of the Father, whom Jesus made known to the world (John 4:7).

It is therefore very opportune that a media regularly asks the question: “And God in all this? ”. One way to respond today would be to formulate it differently: “And the priest in all this? ”.

More and more often, so-called "committed" Christians (i.e. as many apostles devoted to their neighbor as theologians) do not hesitate to contest, not so much the place of the priest in society, as his true role within our communities. Aiming to return the Church to the People of God (according to the title of a 60-page brochure published by nine Catholics from Liège NdlR1), they come to contest most of the sacraments and, more specifically, that of the order which confers the power to administer them. In their eyes, the said sacraments are only privileged encounters with the Lord and signs of fraternity; according to them, they would remain in the future but could be conferred by specially trained lay people (men and women), who would exercise their functions during a temporary mandate.

Envisaging in this way communities “without priests”, these audacious promote “a model of celebration (Eucharistic) independent of the sacrament of order”, a mass which, according to them, should also occupy a less important place than today. today in religious practice. As for our Protestant brothers, only baptism is, in their eyes, fundamental and, therefore, little subject to discussion. Considered civilly as an obsolete legal institution, religious marriage seems to them to be of less interest; founder of the family, he is nevertheless the guarantee of the quality, the durability and the fruitfulness of the conjugal union.

Seeming to confuse the confession of the fault and repentance, like the request for forgiveness and its obtaining, the same theologians recommend replacing the confession made to the priest by an interview with a simple confidant. They thus lose sight of the fact that forgiveness can only be granted by the offended and not by a third party (unless he has previously been invested with such power). In our selfish world, many have come to recognize their wrongs, much more to find “inner peace” than to make “peace with others”; that is to say that it is important to retain the full meaning of the sacrament, that is, its value as a visible sign of an invisible divine mercy!

Minimizing sacramental grace in this way and fearing that clericalism would lead the Church adrift, these thinkers suggested a radical solution: abolish the clergy and entrust the responsibility of the community to Christians themselves. They give as an example the first Christian communities and recall that Jesus did not expressly name or explain each of the seven sacraments recognized today. The fact remains that the apostles and their successors refined the perception of it and that it would certainly be a mistake – here as in other matters – to disregard the achievements of twenty centuries of study, reflection and experience. Our priests today are the auxiliaries of the bishops, who ensure the Apostolic Succession. This is what makes them more the guardians of the sacraments than the “pastors” of the “little flock”. If there are not enough of them to absolve, visitors to prisons, hospitals and rest homes must remind those around them that alongside the “communion of desire”, there is the possibility of being forgiven when the sinner expresses sincere repentance and the intention to confess to a priest as soon as possible.

This rapid overview of the protest shows that it leads, not to an adaptation of the Eucharist and reconciliation, but to a kind of revolution affecting the essential sacraments and the role of the Catholic priest.

To want a Church without a priest is that still to belong to that of Peter?

“There is more than one dwelling in the Father's house”. It is gospel (Jn 14:2) and it is a reality! What makes the richness of families, groups and associations of all kinds is the complementarity of their differences, their fundamental cohesion around the same objective. As always, fair contradiction promotes understanding and progress. From respect to trust, then from this to love, all tend – within the group – to pacify, because only peace leads to unity. As its denomination indicates, the Catholic Church is universal, in other words “open to all”; whoever they are, God invites them.

The announced revolution regarding the role of the priest is intended to be so progressive that it offends more than one and risks not convincing. In the extension of what has just been recalled of the pluralism of opinions, a reflection then seems to be essential. Would a Church which confiscated from priests their apostolic mission still be this “house of the Father”? To formulate the question differently: to want a Church without a priest – and, therefore, without a sacrament – is that still to belong to that of Peter? Ecumenism is a superb movement, but it could not separate Catholics from their “Credo”. It is imperative that those responsible for catechesis and pastoral care be aware of the danger that such a project presents, especially when it is a question of evangelizing, as we have all received the mission to do (Matthew 28, 18 -19).

If Jesus is not God and if his incarnation ceases to continue today – thanks to the priests – in the Eucharist, Christianity is no longer a religion. In this case, he no longer “connects” the human being to the divinity and the disciple of Jesus is like that of any other leader or guru; this Christian wants to live and fulfill himself to the best of his ability, but he does not consciously do so “in the image and likeness” of the one from whom he comes and to whom he returns.

Supposing that it is possible “without a priest” to behave as a child of God and brother (or sister) of humans, isn't it to be feared above all that the thirst for power of the laity will prove to be greater tomorrow than that of the clerics today?


Reginald de Changy; Frederic Close; Jean de Codt; Jacques Galloy; Bernadette Glidden-Huybrechts; Evelyne Guillemare; Philippe Jeanfils; Etienne Jehoulet; Stone of Macar; Renier Nijskens; Philippe Olivier; Yves d'Oultremont; Philippe Prévinaire; Pierre Reginaster; Charles Roberti; Alick Sytor; Louis Thonon; Anne-Victoire d'Ursel; Dominique Verpoorten

(1) Romain Blondiaux, Roger Franssen, Gaby Hansenne, Jean-Philippe Kaefer, Xavier Lambrecht, Sébastien Louis, Bérengère Noel, Rosalie Speciale and Caroline Werbrouck, Let us give back the Church to the people of God! – To put an end to clericalism, Liège 2023,, pp. 60.


Cathcon: if the Synodal Process is pushed to its logical conclusion, this is where it ends.  


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