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.”