Belgian Bishop's Call to Bless Gay & Lesbian Couples Elicits Positive Feedback

Response to Bishop Johan Bonny’s historic call for the Catholic Church to recognize and bless the committed relationships of lesbian and gay couples has been slow, but very positive.  The Belgian bishop made in his remarks in an interview published on December 27th in De Morgen newspaper, and it was made known to the English-speaking world in a National Catholic Reporter news story.

New Ways Ministry provided a response in its blog post on December 30th.  As evidence of the great interest in this story, that blog post, in under 8 hours, became the fourth-most viewed blog post of Bondings 2.0’s  three-year history, beating out posts which have been public for months and years.  Obviously people are interested in this news.

Perhaps the Christmas holidays have impeded the distribution of this important news, though, and so there has been little commentary about it.  Still, the reaction we have seen has been positive.  The Huffington Post began their article on the bishop’s comments by stating:

“A Belgian bishop is bravely standing up for love.”

Father James Martin SJ

Father James Martin SJ

Rev. James Martin, SJ, renowned Catholic author and commentator, offered this response in the HuffPost story:

“His comments recall the initial report from the Synod on the Family, which said that committed gay relationships have ‘gifts and talents’ to offer the Christian community. (That language was removed from the final report.) So we shouldn’t overemphasize what Bishop Bonny is saying: after all, he’s only one bishop. On the other hand, we shouldn’t underemphasize it either: it’s quite revolutionary.”

The Equally Blessed Coalition, which is comprised of four national Catholic organizations (Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, New Ways Equally Blessed LogoMinistry)which work for justice and equality for LGBT people also responded very positively to the news.  In a statement released on December 31, they said the bishop’s words were “bold and beautiful” and

“. . . .reflect what many Catholics have already witnessed from their lesbian and gay family members and friends. LGBT Catholics and their many Catholic allies know that the Spirit of God is not bound to Church teaching, and has moved freely and with power in the lives and loves of gay and lesbian people. The Equally Blessed Coalition joins Bishop Bonny in asking that the Church confirm this truth in her sacramental expressions.”

Jim Smith, Associate Director of DignityUSA, spoke further for the Equally Blessed coalition, saying:

“Though pushback is sure to come, the Equally Blessed Coalition calls on all bishops who privately acknowledge the beauty of Bishop Bonny’s declaration to publicly support his invitation to the Church. God is very much alive in both straight and gay families. It is the time for our Catholic bishops and all church leaders to come out of that doctrinally rigid closet and stand with this brave bishop.”

William Lindsey

William Lindsey, who blogs at Bilgrimagenoted the practical, moral, and compassionate factors of Bonny’s remarks:

“And it’s better — more honest, not to say more moral — to acknowledge that many gay relationships aim at and achieve the ethical ideals proclaimed by the church, ideals of exclusivity, loyalty, and care. It’s better to strengthen those committed relationships than to refuse to acknowledge that they are there, and cruelly to exclude those living in such relationships from the Catholic community.”

We will continue to update you as other insightful comments appear, as well as keeping you informed on any further developments in this story.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related articles: “Belgium Bishop Bonny’s call for blessing of gay unions in Catholic Church called historic”

International Business Times: “Catholic Belgian Bishop Calls For ‘Formal Recognition’ Of Gay Couples In The Church”


7 replies
  1. Anton
    Anton says:

    Many Catholics, and I among them, are already impressed by the holy and loving lives of LGBT couples, who are loving and holy even without the blessing of churches. It’s obvious that God blesses them and they are responding to God’s grace as generously as “traditional, straight couples.” The blessing of marriages between a man and a woman does not guarantee a holy and loving life. “By their fruits you shall know them,” is a fitting commentary on any relationship. An ancient theological principle states: “Deus non alligatur sacramentis.” Even if God works through the sacraments, God can bestow grace without recourse to the rituals. St. Paul was called despite his persecution of early followers of Christ, even though he was then baptized and interpreted his calling in ways different from the then leaders of the church. Bishop Bonny, for me, is in the Pauline line of thinking that realized that circumcision was not necessary to be a follower of Christ, nor the kosher requirements. “In all things CHARITY/LOVE” is the most important criterion.

    • Larry
      Larry says:

      The most important comment from Anton is that gay couples already have “loving and holy relationships even without the blessing of the churches”. While it would be nice to have these relationships recognized and in some sense supported, it is clear that you don’t need the Church to be holy and loving. Obviously, this is not what the hierarchy wants to hear as it diminishes their “power”. . What I would like to see the Church do is get out of the way and stop trying to erode gay relationships in both ecclesiastical and civic matters.

  2. Katy
    Katy says:

    I have been meaning to update new ways ministry on the greatest Christmas gift that my wife and I receive after midnight mass. We went home to my parents in AZ and after attending midnight mass at my childhood parish, I asked my childhood priest to give a blessing to both my wife and I and he did it and asked us to hold hands blessed us with holy water (as most blessings are done) and he didn’t care who was around. He said the most beautiful words to us as well. It was wonderful and made us both feel so good.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] of Antwerp, Belgium, whose call two years for the church to bless same-gender relationships was positively received by many Catholics, released a brief Advent letter,  reflecting on the words, “I have been […]

  2. […] Bonny is famous for an interview last December in which he called for the church to not only recognize, but to bless same-gender relationships. Other bishops from Canada, Puerto Rico, and men’s religious communities were also named in […]

  3. […] people. These include Irish Fr. Martin Dolan who came out to his parish during Mass and Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny who called on the church to formally recognize same-sex […]

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