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Flemish Bishops Back Same Sex Marriage

by | Fri, Sep 30 2022

Belgium’s Flemish Catholic bishops have allowed the blessing of same-sex unions in defiance of the Vatican.

A document published by the Bishops’ Conference of Belgium suggests using a ritual that included a prayer and a benediction for stable same-sex unions.

The ritual would include a commitment by the two people in front of family and friends to be faithful to each other.

The document stressed that it was not “what the Church understands by a sacramental marriage”.

It said the Church wanted to be pastorally close to same-sex couples and welcoming to everyone.

In a separate statement, the bishops said their intention was not to defy the Vatican ruling.

A spokesman said: “This is first and foremost a positive message” that conformed with the pontiffs’s calls for a more inclusive Church.

Premier Christian News reports Pope Francis is opposed to same-sex marriage in the Church.

However, he is said to support civil union legislation to give same-sex couples legal protection and rights such as inheritance and shared health care.

In March 2021, in response to formal questions from a number of Roman Catholic dioceses on whether the practice of blessing same-sex unions was allowed, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), ruled that it was not.

In response to that ruling, Bishop John Bonny of Antwerp said he felt “shame for my Church” and apologised to those he said had been hurt by the “painful and incomprehensible” decision.

Catholic news outlet The Pillar reports the official website of the French-speaking Catholic Church in Belgium CathoBel claimed the Flemish document applied only to the Flanders region of the country.

It noted that earlier this year the French-speaking Diocese of Liège published a brochure entitled ‘Welcoming, accompanying, carrying in prayer the life project shared by homosexual persons’ which was presented to Pope Francis in July.

“Perhaps a common approach by the French-speaking bishops could also soon see the light of day,” the site said.