Europe loses believers at a forced march and the churches run the risk to become showrooms, clothing stores or nightclubs. Concerned about this desacralizing drift, those in charge of the Basilica of Saint Peter they are taking steps to revive the atmosphere of prayer in the heart of Christendom. This is stated in an interview by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Archpriest of the Basilica.
“In San Pedro prevails the presence of attracted tourists, but also distracted by the monumentality of the Basilica. Fifty thousand people pass through here every day, often accompanied by guides. This inevitably creates a museum atmosphere. with serious problems for those who want to come to pray or participate in the liturgies. The faithful often have to stand in long queues, of more than an hour, to be able to enter”, commented the prelate in Avvenire.
The person in charge of the temple pointed out that God should be put in the center. “We are making efforts so that the faithful who come to pray can access preference, by points different from those of the tourists. Also, they want to promote new proposals for devotion and spirituality. For example, we are studying a moment of prayer at noon, at the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter, to make present, in a more important way, that we are inside the church that houses the tomb of the first Pope”, he pointed out.
Here you can see the video mapping that illuminated the facade of San Pedro.
In this sense, a series of activities are also being organized to talk about the figure of Saint Peter. On October 2, with the presence of the singer Andrea Bocelli, a video mapping on the façade of the Basilica, in which, by means of a play of light, the life of the first Pope in history was shaped. Archpriest Gambetti has commented on more initiatives that are going to be taken, which could be theological, historical or literary.
A threat over Europe
“Starting on October 25 we will have a monthly talk that will delve into the life of Pedro and his ministry. We are also preparing a petrine itinerary, throughout the city, to rediscover the places linked to his earthly life,” he explained. What is considered the center of Christianity, St. Peter’s Basilica, resists being converted into just another museum, and prayer will continue to prevail over the more cultural aspect.
Old catholic church of St. Joseph, in Arnhem, The Netherlands.
The threat of closure or “museumization” of Catholic temples in the West has become a constant. So it is with the dutch diocese Haarlem-Amsterdam, which looks set to close 99 of its 164 churches in the next five years. While, of the remaining 65, 37 could remain open just another five or ten more years. The diocese considers that, in the long term, it will have only 28 temples.
According to the Bishop of the place recently, the pandemic has accelerated this phenomenon, since church attendance has decreased among the elderly. The number of volunteers has also fallen and the choirs have stopped functioning. Mass attendees, for example, went from 25,000 in 2013 to 12,000 in 2021. It is estimated that only 3%, of the 425,000 baptized Catholics in the diocese of Amsterdam, go to services. From 40%, which represented the Catholic community in the Netherlands, in 1970, it has gone to 21.7% today.