Roman Catholics: Answer for Elephants

Almost every city in Europe has its white elephant of a cathedral—decaying stone edifices with more maintenance problems than worshipers in the pews. In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, Roman Catholic Bishop Martinus Jansen has come up with a direct, if drastic, solution for his cathedral problem: he has sold it to the wreckers.

The bishop had sound spiritual and temporal reasons for his move. For one thing, his 76-year-old cathedral in the heart of Rotterdam was badly in need of repairs. It had a regular congregation of only 300—and the church...