Leaving in protest

Leaving in protest

Man with a rainbow flag © lazyllama (shutterstock)

In protest against Vatican ban on blessing same-sex couples, many Belgians apparently leave church. This is according to the Bishop of Antwerp, Johan Bonny, according to French-language media reports.

According to the verdict, about 2.000 people requested the deletion of their baptismal entry from the registers of the Flemish dioceses. By the end of March, he said, some 700 mainly young and heterosexual Catholics had left the parishes of his diocese.

Bishop Bonny would have expected more consultation

The bishop lamented that the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not involve the bishops and the Vatican Family Office before the document was published in mid-March. He says the paper is "theologically weak and testifies to an "inability to absorb contemporary developments in biblical, sacramental and moral theology". "It is as if, in the time of Pius XII. was written", according to Bonny.

The bishop referred to the 2016 papal document "Amoris laetitia," which reflected a search for new, positive elements in pastoral care for families. It is not about an expansion of sacramental marriage, Bonny emphasized; but "there are different ways to love one another, to take care of one another, and to take responsibility in church and society".

Criticism already in the middle of March

As early as mid-March, the bishop of Antwerp had criticized the Vatican ban on blessing homosexual partnerships in unusually harsh terms. After the scandals of recent years, "it is crucial to regain the trust of the faithful, and that is why we Belgian bishops say 'enough is enough!'" he said at the time. He is ashamed of his church and angry. The Belgian Bishops' Conference had also endorsed his position.

It is necessary to recognize "that times have changed," Bonny said in March. "When we speak of 'sin,' where it is a question of irregular relations with regard to our understanding of marriage, it is in fact the majority of our faithful who are affected by it.It is not only about homosexuals, but about all those who live together in a different way, including divorced people, etc.". "Half of the church in my diocese is therefore living in sin," the bishop said.

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Christina Cherry
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