No room for non-believers ... Dutch priest adopts "photo" plan to keep Catholics in the faith. Photo: Angela Wylie
A Roman Catholic priest in the Netherlands is to put on display the names and photographs of parish members trying to leave the church in a bid to get them to stay.
"This is a large parish, and I don't known everyone: by putting up the photos I thought someone might recognise someone they know who they could try to make stay in the church," priest Harm Schilder told AFP on Tuesday.
Many Catholics in the liberal Netherlands were shocked by Pope Benedict XVI's Christmas call to "fight" gay marriage, which the Netherlands was the first country to legalise in 2001.
Schilder said that he had received four requests to leave the Church around Christmas.
"This isn't about pointing a finger, naming and shaming," said Schilder, insisting that the plan would help the community pray for these people not to leave the Church and perhaps "persuade them to stay".
Those wishing to leave must send a letter to the priest along with a photocopy of identity papers.
This is where Schilder gets the photos that will be displayed in the entrance hallway of the church in Tilburg in the south of the country.
The priest made headlines in 2010 when the municipality banned him from ringing church bells at 7:15 am on weekdays.
Around 28 per cent of people in the Netherlands say they are Roman Catholic, 18 per cent Protestant and 44 per cent say they have no religion.