Monday, December 30, 2002

A different kind of conflict between bishop and priest:

Belgian bishop removes priest for banning French speakers

Belgium's perennial language dispute got a new twist Monday after a Flemish priest was removed from his parish for banning French-speakers from celebrating Mass in his church.Father Jos Verstraeten celebrated his last Mass at the St. Peter's church in Wezembeek-Oppem outside Brussels on Sunday at a service attended by flag-waving Flemish nationalists who backed his stance against French-speakers. In an unusual move, the priest led the congregation in singing "The Flemish Lion," a rousing nationalist anthem.The priest was moved to another parish by Belgium's top Roman Catholic churchman, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, after he shut his church doors to local Francophones who had held a weekly service there

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