The Bishop of Antwerp reaffirmed that the Pope has given the green light to the blessing of homosexual couples approved by the Belgian bishops. He made this statement during the last Assembly of the German Synodal Path.
Bishop Johan Bonny, affirms, according to the video of this Assembly, that Francis approved the blessing of same-sex couples and other “irregular” couples last November during the ad limina visit of the Belgian episcopate.
The prelate recounts how the Belgian bishops officially introduced the blessing of irregular couples in their dioceses, in defiance of the Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the previous year.
The Belgian episcopate, based its action on §297 of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, “It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person to find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy.”
The paragraph refers to “everyone in whatever situation they find themselves.” The text concludes, very vaguely, that “the Church has the responsibility of helping them understand the divine pedagogy of grace in their lives and offering them assistance so they can reach the fullness of God’s plan for them.”
The Belgian bishops also rely on §303, on the involvement of conscience in pastoral care: “Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel… it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.”
The Belgian episcopate deduces from this that a disorderly and objectively sinful sexual relationship can become the maximum to offer to God at a given moment, and the Church must not only respect this erroneous discernment of conscience, but integrate it entirely. The blessing of irregular couples then aims at the imperfect “good”: the “generous response that can be offered to God.”
The text was approved by all the Belgian bishops. According to Bishop Bonny, the text was drawn up in discussion with the Holy See, and “we published the text and there was only silence.” The document, unanimously accepted, was presented in Rome during the ad limina visit: “Everyone said: 'It's your Episcopal Conference, it's your decision.'” The pope said neither yes nor no.
The bishops decided to develop diocesan formulas, which, after a few years, would make it possible to put together a common ritual. The Bishop of Antwerp adds: “We also discussed it with the Pope, who told us: ‘It is your decision, I understand.’ Twice he asked, “Are you all in agreement, are you walking together?’ We answered in the affirmative.”
It should be remembered that last September, Bishop Bonny had already indicated that the pope was in agreement with the blessing of homosexual couples: “I know that our guidelines for the blessing of homosexual couples, which we recently published, are in agreement with Pope Francis. This is important to me, because communion with the pope is sacred to me.”
The Archbishop of Antwerp has been trying for years to get the Church to bless same-sex unions. In March 2021, he said he was ashamed of the opposition to such blessings.