CANADA - Churches Transformed into Entertainment Venues

Arno Froese

For generations, parishioners whispered their sins in the dark wooden confessional booths of Notre-Dame-du-Perpétuel-Secours, an imposing Roman Catholic church in Montreal.

But on a recent day, the edgy Quebec comedian Sugar Sammy was being filmed inside one of the booths, the latest intimate celebrity confessional on the talk show “Y’a du monde à messe,” or “The Church Is Packed.”

The once-hallowed space, now illuminated with a giant pink chandelier, has been reinvented as the Théâtre Paradoxe at a cost of nearly $3 million in renovations. It is now host to, among other events, Led Zeppelin cover bands, Zumba lessons and fetish parties, as well as the talk show that Sammy appeared on.

“I don’t feel any taboo in transforming a church into a theater, as we are remaining true to the church’s mission of serving the community,” Mr. St-Georges said.

The radical makeovers of Quebec churches reflect the drastic decline of the Catholic Church in a majority-Catholic Canadian province, where 95 percent of the population went to Mass in the 1950s but only 5 percent do so today.

The sharp drop in church attendance, coupled with spiraling maintenance costs, has made heritage groups, architects and the church itself think creatively to conserve historic buildings at risk of being shuttered or demolished.

As of April, 547 churches in Quebec had been closed, sold or transformed, according to the Québec Religious Heritage Council., 30 July 2018

Arno's commentary

This article speaks of church buildings per se. The true Church consists of born-again believers, regardless of the building or structure in which they fellowship. 

Church buildings, particularly in the mainline denominations (in this case, Roman Catholic), have been transformed by the thousands throughout the world simply due to drastically reduced attendance. In the 1950s, the article says, 95% of Catholics went to Mass; today it’s only 5%.

Canada is counted among the super-rich countries, with an extremely high level of personal liberty. The consequences are clear: the Catholic Church, for example, has to adapt to changing times by ministering less spiritually and being involved more socially. The latter is targeted at the neglected and poor part of the society. Thus, the question immediately arises: what happens to the rest—the middle class and the rich? They, just like in all the European world (the West), are indulging in the luxuries of abundance. Here we are reminded of the church of Laodicea, which proudly proclaimed: “…I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” But there is more to that verse, which concludes: “…and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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