Manifests for believers #3 Catholic versus Protestant

In 2007 there appeared already a Manifest for the believers in the Low Countries. It was started by people from the Protestant church of the Netherlands (PKN = Protestantse Kerk Nederland) and at the turn of the year the Flemish Catholic priests launched a Manifest for believers Manifest “Gelovigen nemen het woord”, “Believers take the word”. Both the manifests wanted to take care that their church community would be growing and be a union of believers.

Both manifests with a new one this month are concerned by the falling church-membership and the loss of believers. The first manifest: Manifest ‘Wij kiezen voor eenheid’ or ‘We choose for unity’ consecrated on the union we would like to see between all those who call themselves Christian. For the writers of the manifest it does not go up that there is so much enormous disunion in the churches in the Dutch-language religiously of the Beneluxand therefore they want to call the believers to go for  a joint slogan:  ‘We choose for unity’.

Their “Manifesto for unity” got not such an attention from the public and did not get so known. The manifesto for believers Manifest “Gelovigen nemen het woord” presented to the Belgian belief community at the turn of the year hit like a bomb.  It got the approval from 8233 religiously but had probably more counter parts.  A lot of Roman Catholics launched a counter attack. In the month January the reaction was so violently that the initiators against the end of the month, or begin this month took away their website with further definitions.  (The manifesto itself can still be found.)

Peeter Neeffs (I) - Interior of a Flemish Church - WGA16477
Interior of a Flemish Church - first half of 17th century Pieter Neefs (1609–1656)
The intentions of the Manifesto for religiously had been meant honourably to have the Roman Catholics embrace their  Catholic Church in Flanders. The writers of the manifesto are well disposed towards the Roman Catholic Churchand do not want to bear it ill feelings but life in the brewery appeared when they outed their grievances and presented their proposals to get some more life in church again.

Quickly they were compared to unbelieving and their ideas as  “disbelievingly” and they became reproached to have taken over the protestant language and by doing so already committed treachery to the Roman Holy Catholic Church.

By the religious that followed masses by the undertakers of the manifest now even more confusion crept in and created despair.  That enthusiast priests that called up the ordinary man in the street to come to work together building up the church  for today and for the future felt now abused and contemplated through the Catholic establishment as “Heretical “.

Although we may know we that heresy  or heterodoxy points to a deliberate and intentional deviation of what in a particular belief community or belief or church community is considered as being part of their fundamental belief teachings and laws. As it is also an accusation levied against members of another group which has beliefs which conflict with those of the accusers, we can see certain conflicts came up in the debate, but which should not be in contrast to the Roman Catholic Law.

The signatories of the “Manifesto for believers” had certainly no intentions at all to let an other separation follow the already awful thinned out group of religious men in the small country Belgium. The sex-scandals in the Roman Catholic Church did already too much damage. The clergy as well as the believers needed the commotion like they needed a hole in the head. They want to adhere to the Catholic teachings but would prefer to go back to the first century church. They do think they have enough teachings provided in the Holy Bible so that men do not need to bind others to man made teachings or to restrict others by their own teachings.  They just wanted to go back to the teachings which were already part of the church life in early centuries. They also found that the church had to put away certain teachings which where brought into existence for all sorts of reasons, of which some were financial (as protecting the church property).

We are also not quite sure that the signatories could be charged with Apostasy because their action should not be considered as  ‘a defection or revolt’, and they do not want to get a disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by any person.  The debate on the function of the woman in church has been a difficult point for many years already in the Roman Catholic Church. Rudolf Bultmann and the “character” of debates over ordination of women and gay priests brought forward many accusations of heresy in the past and again today.

Writing amidst the turbulence of the political, monetary, clergy paedophile abuse sex-scandals, and church population crisis, the writers of the Flemish manifest did not want to counter the high-handed or stubborn traditionalist and conservative Catholics. They saw how the Church was loosing souls and wanted to save them and to get people back into the church.

The same as smoking is harmful for your health, the  Rooms Katholieke Vliegenmeppers (The Roman Catholic Flyswatters) do find that the priests who wrote and signed the Manifest for believers are as harmful for the people souls welfare.  They do call the believers not to receive the Holy Sacraments of these priests and not to go to partake their Holy Mass.  They, with many others, do find that those priests who call for a change in the Roman Catholic Church, are heretics and unworthily to do the Mass or ‘ Misoffer’, the “Sacrifice of the Mass”.

According Katholieke Actie Vlaanderen (Catholic Action Flanders) there has come a schism in the Belgian Catholic Church. (See: Ketters in Vlaanderen = Heretics in Flanders) The accusation levied against those Catholic priests who are concerned about the decline of the Roman Catholic Church is somewhat strange. First of all those makers of the manifest do everything to keep the Roman Catholic Church on its feet in those turbulent times. They want the best for the survival of the Catholic Church in Belgium.

They do not want to undermine accepted morality and cause tangible evils, damnation, or other punishment. Contrary they are against the silent hierarchical Roman Church, who wants to do a cover-up operation. They do not want to sweep the many child sex abuses under the carpet. They want to make an end to the possible cause of so much damage. Therefore they ask that priests could get a normal sexual life, have a wife and children.

The Roman Catholic Church holds Protestantism as espousing numerous heresies, while some Protestants retrospectively consider Roman Catholicism the “Great Apostasy“.

Today several people do find the makers of the ‘Manifest for believers’ to be priests who use the terminology and ideas of protestants, and therefore should be called protestants and not Catholics any more.

Bishop Pates' Ordination
The ordination of a servant of God - Bishop Pates' Ordination.
The stressing and enlargement of the role of the laity is being considered one of the main points of protestantism. For the Roman Catholics Ordination is sacred and comprehends that the person who is following the ‘call of God’ becomes  consecrated (set apart for the administration of various religious rites) in which he acts as the bride of Christ. Being ‘married’ to Christ he should not have any other woman and abstain from any form of sex or sexual contact, because he has given his full life and body to the Lord. Calling for an ordination of women is desacralising the priesthood, opponents say. For the conservative Roman Catholics the role of the priest and servant of God giving out the sacraments should remain the role that an ordained male person has to fulfil.

For the Roman Catholics who shout “everything for Flanders and Flanders for Christ” a layman perhaps could ‘lead’ administratively a parish, but would not be a shepherd. For them the manifestos confuse or mix  lay and clergyman  with each other. The language of the manifest, using words like “voorgaan” ‘precede in the Sunday celebrations’ or conduct the services and “liturgisch voorganger” ‘liturgical minister’ is protestant talk and not worthy of a Roman Catholic. For the conservatives words as ‘liturgical leader/pastor/minister’ for a priest is not recognising the sacramental holiness of that servant of God. Several Catholics question what those notions mean. For the conservatives a ‘Sunday celebration’ is not Mass per se a Holy Mass or Eucharistic Offering!

The matter brought forward by the Flemish manifesto that not only ordained people who abstain from sex can bless the bread of the Lord’s Supper and say “This is my body” after which they may hand out the symbol of Christ his Body and Sacrifice is for the conservative Catholics also degrading the Holy Sacrament and blasphemy. *

Their call also to become all, men and women, workers in Christ, is considered an awful protestant idea.

From the homily of Pope Bendict XVI (11 June 2010): “The Church too must use the shepherd’s rod, the rod with which he protects the faith against those who falsify it, against currents which lead the flock astray. The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated. Nor does it have to do with love if heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away.”

The conservatives do find that a lay men can not bring a sermon because according to the Roman Catholic Church such a task is only for the ordained, priest, bishop, cardinal or Pope. “Lay may not may preach.  Point.  A sermon is not ‘the word Gods’, but an explanation by the H. Gospel” the Catholic Action says and therefore the writers of the manifest asking to have laymen also to be able to preach is one more reason they are heretics.

In the next chapter we shall look at the reaction about disrespect for the body of Christ the believers who take the word have, according to the conservatives who are fed up with the idea that ordinary man put their hands in the goblet with the Holy Host. Certainly women keep off their hands from the tabernacle! the conservatives say.

Inside of the Roman Catholic Church in Újkér

In the next chapter we shall see why for the dis-pleasured the matter of the Eucharist and the believe in transubstantiation is so important for the Roman Catholic believe. While the writers of the manifest give the impression they want to dispose of some dogmatic laws which were not in the church of the first centuries of this time, the conservatives hold fast to the historic popes like Pope Innocent III and Paul VI .

According to Staf de Wilde the Catholic church is standing in front of  a firm dogmatism and for a pyramidal, say dictatorial structure in which the basis church has to squeak little or nothing.  Him remains it surprising that critical religious people within this institute wishes to remain active. According to him  an organized belief community does not really has to be church with the qualities of the church of Rome.  And as you take away these qualities, then you hold something else over: something resembling the original Christianity perhaps, at that time there did not exist yet an infallible pope and yet no dogmas.

Ignace D’Hert, Dominican and instructor theology at the Higher Institute for Religious Science in Antwerp; Marc Van Tent oblate and former instructor theology at the Centre for Ecclesiastic Studies in Louvain and the Higher Institute for Religious Science in Ganshoren; Eddy Van Waelderen, priest of the diocese Antwerp and many years active as theologian on the Theological and Pastoral Centre in Antwerp, were some of the first theologians that signed the manifesto “Believers take the word” .  When these Catholic theologians may not bring in a contribution the mental world of the Catholicism in Flanders, may wonder one self who may well  do.  Were orthodoxy is for them remaining to seek in fidelity to new sense coming  from the Jesus-happening lighting up in the variable circumstances of life.  According to me that holds not in that they reject therefore that Catholic Belief.

Today we hear the Flemish priests and serious Christian believers of the Catholic Religion call for some reform. They let Belgium hear their protest about what happened in the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium and how it is degrading or falling to pieces. In case you would call such whistle blowers who protest against a situation “Protestants’, than perhaps you could consider them belonging to the “Protestants’, but because they have no similar teachings as those of the ‘protestants’ of the ‘Protestant Church’ they can never belong to the Protestant Church as such. They may engage in prolonged efforts to make their early efforts intelligible to Rome but they are not aiming to spawn separate movements in their own names. On the other hand we do seem some thoughts to get the people liberated from the mediation of sacramental and clerical system and to give them a freer experience of grace.

An other protestant twinge is their act to want to go more to the Biblical teachings instead preferring to keep to human doctrinal laws. We can notice that they manifesters turned to the Bible for guidance about church governance.

They are still real integer Catholics who want to bring a signal to save the Roman Catholic Church. As in both the Protestant and Catholic Church those people serving those churches should in first instance bringing over Gods Word. They should proclaim the Good News. It should be about the Sacrificial Offer by Jesus. Both have to talk about atonement and reconciliation.

The believers who took the word rang the alarm-bell but did not commit treason to their Roman Catholic Faith. These signatories of the manifesto agree that it is not simple to face those differences which came to light now. The differences that came onto the surface may have lingered already for many years, though those in charge of the Belgian Catholic Church did not want to face them.  It will not be easy to go about with the differences on a sober and evangelic manner.  Plurality becomes quick disunion.  That makes it so difficult in our chaotic world to hold in front the vision of someone else, and  to experience it full of joy.

“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised into {Or in; also in verse 15} the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13 NIV) asked Paul already at the torn municipality of Corinth.

All ought to yield the courage with each other over these fundamentally different views, to come in dialogue.  With an open mind and without fear for mutual questioning.


* God can not die, but Jesus, being a man could die but only once. A “re-sacrifice” of Jesus Christ for our sins, or a “re-offering / re-presentation” of His sacrifice is not necessary. Scripture says, that Jesus died “once for all” and does not need to be sacrificed again (Hebrews 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18). Hebrews 7:27 declares, “Unlike the other high priests, He (Jesus) does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself.” The bread and the wine are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus, but are not a representation of God nor His body or his blood (Because God is a ghost and has no body or blood as human beings.) The bread Jesus was breaking represented what he was going to do. The same for the wine he gave them – his blood hadn’t yet been shed, but the wine represented the blood that would be shed. These words were not meant to be taken in a literal sense then, nor are they now.


To be continued: Manifests for believers #4 Eucharist + Manifests for believers #5 Christian Union

Preceding article: Manifests for believers #2 Changing celibacy requirement



Please do find to read:

  1. A Call for National Dialogue on the Future of Priestly Ministry
  2. Celibacy and the Priesthood
  3. Bishop of Derry calls for end to celibacy in Catholic church
  4. Tracing the Glorious Origins of Priestly Celibacy
  5. Is Jesus Christ actually present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist/communion?
    The Lord’s supper is done both to help Christians remember what Jesus has done, and also to proclaim what Jesus has done (‘For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’: 1 Cor. 11:26).
  6. What is Holy Communion? Why is it necessary to a Christian’s life?Children ate the OT passover so why not NT bread and wine?Are the bread and wine just symbols, or are they really Jesus flesh and blood?Why did Jesus say he wouldn’t drink wine again until the kingdom when he ate and drank other things? (Mark 14:25)Why wasn’t the lying prophet killed? (1 Kings 13)
  7. What is transubstantiation?

In Dutch:

  1. Beminde gelovigen
  2. Gelovigen nemen het woord: Manifest van Vlaamse gelovigen Najaar 2011
  3. Manifest tot protestantse kerk
  4. Manifestanten Protestant of Katholiek
  5. Manifest: [On-]Gelovigen nemen het woord
  6. Terecht scherpe kritiek op “Manifest Gelovigen nemen het woord”
  7. Alfabetische lijst van 8.228 ketters in Vlaanderen
  8. Mgr. Johan Bonny, bisschop van Antwerpen: ‘Ik versta verzuchtingen van het manifest Gelovigen nemen het woord
  9. Theoloog Stijn Van den Bossche:’Woord- en communiediensten zijn niet de eerste oplossing
  10. Manifest: Wij kiezen voor eenheid
  11. Gelovigen ‘nemen’ het woord niet… Gelovigen ‘AANVAARDEN’ het Woord
  12. Manifest voor het Katholieke Geloof:
  13. Schisma in de Vlaamse Kerk
  14. Werkdruk te hoog voor priesters


  • The Pope called for “profound renewal” in the Roman Catholic Church on Monday in an appeal sent to the first conference ever held by the Vatican on the subject of paedophile priests and child abuse.
    A Vatican statement said that Benedict “supports and encourages every effort to respond with evangelical charity to the challenge of providing children and vulnerable adults with an ecclesiastical environment conducive to their human and spiritual growth.”

    “You can have all the symposiums you want, but why don’t they open a constructive debate? The Church is too closed in on itself,” Roberto Mirabile, the head of La Caramella Buona, an Italian victims’ group, told AFP.

    Sue Cox, from Survivors’ Voice, a coalition of support groups from the US, Britain, Ireland and Germany, said: “You don’t need a jolly in Rome to learn what the right thing to do is. This is just a PR stunt. It’s just theatre really.”

  • The Catholic Church (
    Recently, the catholic leadership came out in opposition to the mandate in our new healthcare law that all health insurance providers offer coverage for prescribed birth control, even for employees in some catholic institutions. But, let’s be clear about what the real issue is here. It is not about government controls, and it is not about infringement of our religious beliefs. It is about a church that has lost touch with reality. The leadership of the catholic church either is ignoring or is unaware of the disconnect between catholic teaching and catholic reality.
  • Unholy War (
    In the last couple of weeks, the President Barack Hussein Obama White House, like hitting a bald face hornets nest during the daytime when it ought to know better, “declared war” on not only the Roman Catholic bishops in the United States, but also the Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America.
  • Catholic Church ready to declare war on Obama (
    From the campaign trail last month, GOP contender Newt Gingrich said US President Barack Obama had declared a “war on the Catholic Church.” Some clergy have heard that call and are warning the president: look out, we’re ready to rumble.
  • Gulf Exists Between Catholic Bishops And Laity On Contraception (
    For those who do not grasp the significance of the gulf between the Catholic Bishops and the Catholic laity, what eventually happens is that the laity will drift away from the Bishops. The recent decision by the Obama Administration to require Catholic owned businesses- schools, hospitals and so forth- to carry healthcare choices that cover contraception has the bishops up in arms, but not the laity.
  • Catholic Church ready to declare war on Obama (
    “It’s not about contraception. It’s about the right of conscience,” Archbishop Timothy Dolan tells reporters. “The government doesn’t have the right to butt into the internal governance and teachings of the church,” he insists.

    “Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience,” adds Dolan. “This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”

  • US Catholic Bishops Don’t Know Their Congregants (
    The statement issued by the Bishops called contraception against “the mandate of Jesus Christ.” They pulled that one out of their fancy hats. Christ said very little about sexuality and nothing whatsoever about preventing pregnancy. Only the leaders of the church have ever addressed the issues, and did so from some very warped personal positions. They were also the ones who said that clergy should be celibate. They just assumed that since no one bothered to mention any wives that the Apostles might have had, that there weren’t any.
  • Grimm And Murphy Spar Over Obama Contraception Plan (
    Mr. Murphy also had less-than-kind words for Mr. Grimm’s approach to the issue.

    “Once again, when faced with controversy, my opponent is playing the Washington game of seeking publicity and creating division instead of seeking a workable solution,” he said.

  • Nancy Pelosi: ‘I am going to stick with fellow Catholics’ in Pres. Obama’s war on Catholics. Wherein Fr. Z rants. (
    Even as the United States’ Catholic bishops have launched an all-out campaign against the Obama administration’s birth control mandate and urged their flocks to resistance, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has invoked the support of “fellow Catholics” to justify her position in favor of the mandate.

24 thoughts on “Manifests for believers #3 Catholic versus Protestant

  1. […] Manifests for believers #3 Catholic versus Protestant The sex-scandals in the Roman Catholic Church did already too much damage. The clergy as well as the believers needed the commotion like they needed a hole in the head. They want to adhere to the Catholic teachings but would prefer to go back to the first century church. They do think they have enough teachings provided in the Holy Bible so that men do not need to bind others to man made teachings or to restrict others by their own teachings.  They just wanted to go back to the teachings which were already part of the church life in early centuries. They also found that the church had to put away certain teachings which where brought into existence for all sorts of reasons, of which some were financial (as protecting the church property). […]


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