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.”
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 Ministry)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, who blogs at Bilgrimage, noted 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
International Business Times: “Catholic Belgian Bishop Calls For ‘Formal Recognition’ Of Gay Couples In The Church”