Belgian bishops defy Rome to introduce church blessings for same-sex couples 

 Simon Caldwell

September 23, 2022 at 9:55 am

Bishops in Belgium have introduced a liturgy for the blessings of same sex couples in defiance of teaching from the Vatican.

A document issued by the Flemish-speaking bishops of Flanders also includes prayers, Scripture readings and suggested wording for same-sex couples to proclaim publicly and in a church setting “before God how they are committed to one another”.

The rite asks God to “bless and perpetuate this commitment of love and fidelity” between homosexual couples.

Cardinal Jozef De Kesel of Mechelen-Brussels and the other bishops behind the document, called “Being pastorally close to homosexual persons — For a welcoming Church that excludes no one”, argue however that their teachings are consistent with Amoris Laetitia (the Joy of Love), the 2016 post-synodal exhortation of Pope Francis on the pastoral care of families.

They say the document was issued as a “concrete response and fulfilment to the desire to give explicit attention to the situation of homosexual persons, their parents and families in the conduct of policy”.

“Every human being, regardless of his sexual orientation, must be respected in his dignity and treated with respect,” the bishops say.

“We want to continue on that path by giving this pastoral relationship a more structural character.”

They said that same-sex unions “although not a religious marriage, can be a source of peace and shared happiness for those involved”.

“Pope Francis asks to value and support the judgment of people’s conscience[s], even in life situations that do not fully realize the objective ideal of marriage,” the bishops added. “No one can be condemned forever because that is not the logic of the gospel.”

The bishops said that “believers who live in a stable homosexual relationship also desire respect and appreciation within the faith community” and that they “want to be heard and recognized”.

The new liturgy, they said, would confirm “their joy of knowing a steady partner, their choice for an exclusive and lasting relationship, their firm will to care responsibly for each other and their desire to be of service in Church and society”.

The move nevertheless contradicts the contents of ruling from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the blessings of same-sex couples was impermissible.

Nederlands Dagblad was among the publications to note that the bishops were “going directly against the Vatican”.

In March 2021, the CDF published the responsum ad dubium to a question about the legitimacy of liturgical blessings for same-sex couples.

In response to the question: “Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?” the CDF answered: “Negative.”

In an accompanying explanation, the CDF said: “God does not and cannot bless sin.”

Pope Francis in January demoted CDF secretary Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, who was seen as the driving force behind the statement as well as an opponent of new restrictions against the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass.

The archbishop was understood to have also insisted that the matter was addressed in response to repeated calls by several German bishops for same-sex liturgical blessings.

The ensuing ruling said that although “positive elements” may exist in a same-sex unions, they were not ordered to the Creator’s plan could not therefore justify an ecclesial blessing.

It said: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” adding that it cannot be licit to bestow a blessing imitating “the nuptial blessing invoked on the man and woman united in the sacrament of matrimony”,

The Church, the ruling concluded, “does not have the power over God’s designs” but was only “their faithful interpreter and witness”.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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