In an unprecedented move, the Bishop of Antwerp, Johan Bonny, has apologised for the Vatican’s stand on homosexuality. The Vatican is the HQ of the Roman Catholic church supervised by the pope. – Colin Clapson 10:05
In an opinion piece in the Flemish daily De Standaard the bishop apologises to gay couples after the Roman Catholic church updated its stand on homosexuality. Bishop Bonny says he is angry and ashamed because the church continues to label homosexuality a sin.
The bishop sends apologies to everybody who experiences the Vatican’s stand as painful and incomprehensible: committed Roman Catholic gay couples, their parents and grandparents, pastoral workers and people providing support to gay couples.
“Their pain because of the church is my pain” says the bishop. In recent days the Vatican repeated that gay relationships were a sin and gay couples could not receive the sacrament of marriage.
The bishop says proposals to extend blessings of unions between same sex couples have been rejected with irrelevant arguments. He is particularly irked by the use of the word ‘sin’: “In classical Catholic moral theory this is a term that has always been treated with great nuance. The way it’s being treated now falls far short of these standards.”
“Sin only occurs when people consciously and knowingly act in an evil way. This isn’t either the intention or the result of homosexuality. This is unworthy of the use of the term moral theory.”
Quizzed about whether he is worried the Vatican could now penalise him, he says “at some points in time, you need to assume your responsibility. I, as the Bishop of Antwerp, am responsible for the credibility of the Catholic episcopacy in our country. In the light of this responsibility I cannot act in any other way”.
“I wouldn’t be so cross if I didn’t love the church so much. My anger is directed at the Vatican. You can put Rome into perspective. You can’t do that with the Church of Jesus Christ.”
This article written in support of a Roman Catholic Bishop’s response in Europe to the recent announcement from the Vatican – that Homosexual Relationships are objectively sinful and that such relationships may not be blessed – bears some similiarity with an early utterance of Pope Francis soon after his election, on the issue iof homosexuality’ “Who am I to judge, if such a person loves God?”
What has happened, I suspect, is that the Vatican hardliners (perhaps especially because of the worldwide scandal about Catholic priests involved in child-abuse) are making an effort to distance themselves from any suspicion of collusion with Same-Sex relationships in the Church. We may here, have an instance of the Church’s (and, to some extent, the world’s) mistaken understanding of an implied link of homosexuality with paedophilia (abuse of children by men) – a link that has been proved suspect by social commentators and scientific research.
It may also be that, since Pope Francis made it known that the Church must accept the fact of Same-Sex Marriage in the Civil Courts (where they are legal) – but without such relationships being given the benefit of Celebration in Church; that the conservatives in the Vatican want to make sure that no Catholic will be pressing for official recognition of their S/S relationship by the means of an official Blessing
UNFORTUNATELY, in their Statement, the Vatican Officials have made it plain that the Church still considers such relationships sinful – a situation which seems to contradict the Pope’s earlier affirmation of S/S Civil Marriage. Here is the response, in a nutshell, of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Antwerp:
““Their pain because of the church is my pain” says the bishop. In recent days the Vatican repeated that gay relationships were a sin and gay couples could not receive the sacrament of marriage.
One waits for the Roman Curia’s reaction to this provocative statement by one of its own clergy!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand