Flemish bishops publish liturgy to bless homosexual relationships

The Church of Flanders agrees with the blessing of same-sex relationships. The bishops created a point of contact for homosexuality and faith and issued liturgical proposals for the blessing of homosexual relationships.

In order to anchor the pastoral care and guidance of homosexuals in the structure of the church, the Flemish bishops have established a point of contact for homosexuality and faith. Report it the church network and Dutch daily newspaper. The bishops say they are building on the admonition Amoris Laetitiain which Pope Francis writes “that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be respected in their dignity and treated with respect”.

Integration

The bishops say gay believers deserve appreciation and support, regardless of whether they are celibate or in a relationship. “Because even this relationship, although not a church wedding, can be a source of peace and shared happiness for those involved,” they write in the document announcing the foundation.

The newly established contact point will focus on promoting meetings and conversations between pastoral staff and homosexual persons or couples because, according to the bishops, this is “an important link for integration in the faith community”.

Blessing proposal

The bishops write that during pastoral meetings with gay couples, they are regularly asked for “a moment of prayer to ask God to bless and maintain this commitment of love and fidelity”. The bishops emphasize that this is not the same as the sacrament of marriage, but suggest how such a blessing can proceed.

Their proposal roughly takes the form of a word and prayer service, which includes space for Bible reading, community prayer, intercession and the Lord’s Prayer. They also provide an example of a text with which the couple can express to God how they stand in their relationship.

The liturgy ends with a blessing; according to Willy Bombeek, coordinator of the contact point, it means an explicit blessing for the couple, according to Dutch daily newspaper.

Another course from Rome

With this, the Flemish bishops are doing something that has probably never happened before in the Church. By giving way to the blessing of same-sex couples, they follow a different course than the Vatican. The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith stated in March 2021 that ecclesiastical blessing of homosexual relationships is not possible.

Soon after, the Belgian bishops – not just the Flemish ones – jointly announced that they were aware that the Vatican’s decision “appears painful” for gay Catholics and their loved ones. Antwerp’s Bishop Johan Bonny published a letter in the daily newspaper The standard in which he wrote that he was “angry and ashamed” of the Vatican’s position.

For now, the contact point only applies to Dutch-speaking dioceses in Belgium. It is also not known whether the bishops in Wallonia are aware of the Flemish initiative. According to catable, the website of the French-speaking church in Belgium, the Walloon bishops have not yet reacted to their colleagues’ new plan. The website reports that “a common approach from the French-speaking bishops may be developed in the near future”.

To Rome

Dutch daily newspaper reports that spokesman Geert De Kerpel of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels says that the liturgical proposals for blessing and establishing the point of contact have not been submitted to the Vatican for publication. In November, the Belgian bishops will pay an ad limina visit to the Vatican, where they will discuss the state of the Church in their country with the Pope and various Curia bodies.

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In Germany too, there is regular discussion about whether to bless homosexual relationships. There were plans in the Archdiocese of Berlin last August to create a church contact point for homosexuals, but little is known about the follow-up to that intention.

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