It begs the question: does the separation of Church and State mean that the belgian church should stand by and do nothing while the state of Belgium is poised to no longer exist..?
The pro-Belgian association Spontaan had sent an email to 600 flemish and walloon priests, asking them if they could have their faithful sign a petition to save Belgium. The petition would then be distributed at the end of mass. Cardinal Godfried Danneels didn’t want to hear anything about this initiative, he said in a letter brought forward by Het Belang van Limburg and the Gazet van Antwerpen on Monday.
"Separation of Church and State must be respected", affirmed the cardinal. "Everyone is free to sign the petition. To distribute it within the church throughout the different parishes might be interpreted in erroneous fashion. The Church does not want to put pressure on anyone to make a choice like that."
The diocese of Hasselt goes even further. "Priests who allow themselves to be tempted by the initiative may expect a franc discussion", says their spokesperson Clem Vande Broek.
The Spontaan group see this as a missed opportunity. "We wanted to reach as many people as possible", explains Annette Spiltoir of the association. "The Church could have helped us."