Ban on blessing homosexual couples: many Belgians leave the Church

A “Hemorrhage” of the faithful, wounded by the “Not too much” of the Vatican on this thorny issue. During an online conference organized by the British media The Tablet, Mgr Johan Bonny, Bishop of Antwerp (Belgium) assured, Wednesday April 28, that, in his diocese, 700 people – mostly young people – had left the Church during the last two weeks of March. According to him, this wave of departures is in the wake of the publication, Monday, March 15, of the note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reaffirming the ban on blessing unions of homosexual couples.

→ ANALYSIS. Bishops criticize ban on blessings for same-sex couples

In many countries, this reminder of the Vatican had aroused anger and weariness, within the movements engaged in the accompaniment of homosexual Catholics. In his intervention, Bishop Bonny evoked the reaction “Dramatic” of “Predominantly heterosexual persons”, having expressed their frontal disagreement with this document. He indicated that nearly 2,000 people had also requested the cancellation of their baptismal registration in the registers of the Flemish dioceses of Belgium, a country which is however traditionally very Catholic.

“Responsibility before God”

Deploring the lack of consultation with the bishops and the dicastery for the laity, the family and life before the publication of this note, Bishop Bonny also criticized his “Theological weakness” and its failure to reflect contemporary developments in biblical theology, sacramental theology, and moral theology. “It is as if it had been written at the time of Pius XII”, regretted the religious leader, known for his frank positions in favor of sexual minorities.

→ MAINTENANCE. Homosexuality: “An urgent theological work but which takes time”

Believing that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith should be “At the peak of biblical and theological scholarship, and not behind an ordinary level of quality”, he also regretted that the document did not take into account what the humanities say today about sexuality in civil society, when many countries have legalized marriage or civil partnership for same-sex couples.

“Walk together”

“It is not at all in phase with Amoris laetitia”, he insisted, before insisting on the emphasis placed, by the post-synodal apostolic exhortation published in 2016, on the search for new positive elements. “What we are proposing here is not to extend sacramental marriage”, he continued, “There are different ways of loving one another, of taking care of one another and of assuming responsibility in the Church and in society”.

“But there are so many possibilities that come from the Scriptures and the tradition of the Church, to walk together with people, to bring them before God and ask for God’s blessing on them”, he finally advocated. In recent weeks, many other bishops around the world had also denounced a text “hurtful” and “awkward”. A frontal challenge to the Vatican line, far from being common in their ranks.


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