The Vatican is urging Catholic countries not to allow deconsecrated churches to be used for “inappropriate activities”.
At a recent conference titled ‘Doesn’t God Live Here Anymore?’, delegates discussed the number of church buildings that were now used for secular purposes.
Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau in Canada, told the Telegraph: “I know of a little church in northern Ontario that was turned into a strip club.
“It went up in flames, thank God. That’s one of the worst examples.”
In a message sent to the conference, held in a Catholic university in Rome, Pope Francis said that deconsecrated churches should be given “a new life”.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican body that organised the event, said some of the deconsecration of the churches amounted to “blasphemy”.
“A museum would be fine, or perhaps a community meeting place,” he said.
Delegates from around the world, including the US, Spain, Nigeria and Ireland complained about having little say over the future use of deconsecrated churches.
The Vatican is expected to issue guidelines at the end of the two-day conference for dioceses worldwide on how to manage the sale of deconsecrated churches.