"Roman Catholic Church threatened in its existence"
The Roman Catholic Church in Flanders is experiencing increasing problems to find new priests.
This year only one priest is being ordained.
The news comes from the Flemish Christian weekly Tertio.
The sole ordination will occur in the bishopric of Bruges in West Flanders.
Elsewhere in the country nine new Francophone priests will be ordained: three in Brussels-Mechelen, four in Namur and one each in Liège and Tournai.
A dozen new deacons will be ordained in Flanders this year. Three of this number is expected to go on to become priests.
Peter Vande Vyvere of Tertio told VRT that if nothing changes soon the Roman Catholic Church will shortly be threatened in its very existence in the region.
He continued: "The fact that the number of new ordinations is falling is not a disaster because the number of faithful is on the decrease too. Still a church community that wants to remain Roman Catholic cannot operate without a minimum number of officials."
If the present trend continues problems will arise. There is a temptation to seek a solution in ending the link between the priesthood and celibacy.
Pointing to the shortage of priests in the Protestant and Anglican churches Vande Vyvere insisted that this perhaps was not the solution that would solve all the church's difficulties.