Call to prayer for the schismatic Flemish Church

Translation of the Dutch call of 25-09-2022

Alea iacta est. The die has been cast. The Flemish bishops could not resist their desire to give the world the example of consequent contemporary inclusivity. Homosexual relations can henceforth be blessed, with official episcopal approval. A religiously practicing homosexual was even appointed to “coordinate” the demand for this. It is difficult to deduce exactly what his task consists of from the reports on the matter. In any case, he must ensure that all those who have a non-heterosexual preference not only feel welcome in the Flemish Church (which in fact was always the correct ecclesiastical attitude), but also feel definitively liberated from any disturbing feeling of sinfulness in their sexual acts.

Probably most Christians (and possibly even the bishops involved?) does not realize that this decision means the end of the Catholic Church in Flanders. Elementary logic and truthfulness can only lead to the conclusion that the Flemish Church has been derailed and is in a schismatic position. After all, “Catholic” means universal. But how can you claim to be “universal” if you take a position that is in formal contradiction with what is worldwide regarded as Catholic morality, with all the known official statements about this from the highest church authorities, with the continuous church teaching since the beginning of Christianity and with the unmistakable biblical guidelines and condemnations in this matter?

This can only be done by violating the truth and manipulating and reinterpreting the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church in such a way until one finally comes to conclusions that are the opposite of what they literally say. Preferably the post synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia of pope Francis is invoked in this case. On this matter, Mgr. Bonny claimed for the VRT: “If the pope speaks about guiding, integrating and a church that must be open to everyone, then this decision is completely in the same line”. That a prominent ecclesiastical authority develops such manipulative thinking is deeply disturbing. Christ himself was “open” to all sinners and showed them his forgiveness.  But, of course, He never condoned their sins, let alone “blessed” them. His position was clear: “So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 5:19). Also in Amoris Laetitia there is no trace of any approval for such ecclesiastical blessing, or anything that can objectively be interpreted as the elimination of the essential sinfulness of sexual relations that take place outside heterosexual marriage. (See CCC:  nos. 2357-2359).

Amoris Laetitia literally contains the following statement, recorded at the Synod on the Family (of 2014): “regarding projects of equating unions between homosexual persons with marriage ‘there is no reason to adopt or establish analogies, not even distant analogies, between homosexual unions and God’s plan for marriage and family.” (AL 251). In stark contrast to this is one of the main arguments with which one tries to justify this fatal derailment of ecclesiastical morality in Flanders.  It is based on the supposed “durability for life” of the promise of mutual fidelity of the gay couple who wish to be blessed. In Christian marriage, this durability is not a meaningless religious obligation, but a basic condition for fulfilling our human mission of healthy reproduction and education in the best psychological and biological conditions. In a relationship that cannot in itself lead to procreation, one can of course also make a similar promise, but this must be justified by other arguments, which are less decisive and much more subjective or emotional in nature, such as mutual  “love”, “friendship”, or ” the desire to care for each other”. As long as there remains at least a symbolic connection with the fundamental fertility that characterizes authentic Christian marriage, one can still speak of an acceptable analogy (eg. in case of unwanted infertility of a heterosexual couple). But that analogy is completely lost in relationships where it is about the satisfaction of homosexual desires, at the expense of the potential fertility of the partners involved. In some cases, those relationships can be accompanied by a mutual need for “lifelong fidelity.”  However, the statistical figures show that the  latter is an extremely rare flower within the gay community, the existence of which is questioned by most homosexuals themselves (1).

It  is difficult to deny that the progressive discourse, which has prevailed in a number of ecclesiastical circles since the sexual revolution of the sixties (including in the Flemish seminaries that have since been emptied) clashes with the biblical positions on gay relationships. Nevertheless, inventive theologians, supported by permissive ecclesiastical ministers, try to circumvent this obstacle with sophisticated reasoning. A good example of this is the recent Dutch translation of the book by the American ex-priest Daniel Helminiak What the Bible really says about homosexuality” (1994-2000). In the original preface, the liberal Anglican Bishop John S. Spong well summarized the basic reasoning of this book: “The author dares to set aside the words of the Bible, which are culturally determined, so that there is room for the power of his Lord, who embraced the outcasts of society.” In the same book, on the one hand, the glory of the perfection of Yahweh’s word is sung, while on the other hand the meaning of God’s words are distorted for the sake of the desired result: the approval of homosexual acts. The new foreword in the Dutch translation comes from Mgr. De Korte van ‘s-Hertogenbosch. It seems much more cautious, but on closer inspection it is equally destructive to the credibility of Catholic teaching: “Church doctrine is not a monolith. There has always been growth and change over the centuries. The future is open. What does the Spirit say to the Church today when  talking about homosexuality and homosexual relationships in faithful love?. It is possible that a homophile wedding vow holds, although – as mentioned – this is anything but evident in homosexual praxis. In itself, lifelong fidelity between two people is of course a beautiful ideal. Fatal, however, is the attack that this bishop makes on the trust we must have in the Holy Spirit. According to him, the Holy Spirit takes into account the “new insights” of the zeitgeist and can He say today without hesitation the opposite of what He has been telling us for millennia through the biblical prophets and their successors in the Christian world.

How long can a modernist blinded Church that talks such a nonsense stand firm?  This new step can only hasten its demise. After all, what purpose serve a Church that no longer derives its hopes and insights from the Bible and the Gospel, but from the prevailing local opinions? Mgr. Bonny says it himself in so many words: “It is not our intention to anticipate the world church. Our intention is to do what needs to be done here.” With this he acknowledges that this step is a signal for other local church communities to follow the Flemish example. In addition, it is about something that “had to be done”. On what this “necessity” is based is not mentioned. Was there political influence? In any case, it was considered more important than respect for the ecclesial unity and the biblical teaching on which it is based.

On closer inspection, the argument for abolishing the sinfulness of homosexual relationships is  mainly based on “new scientific insights”. But exactly what they are remains vague and their degree of generally accepted scientificity even more so, as is shown, among other things, by the study by Dr. van de Aardweg mentioned below. In fact, this is not a scientific issue eiher, but a divine instruction. Everything that is a sin for the Christian is based on that and not at all on theological tracts that take into account “new scientific insights”, however clever and revolutionary they may seem. On the one hand, one can ask whether “current science” has so many more certainties about the psychological background of alternative sexual orientations. On the other hand, the proponents of this change in church doctrine say de facto, either that God does not have the scientific authority to burden people with such prohibition, or that the Bible is no more than a collection of outdated cultural practices, with which God  has little to do.  Is it not wiser and more correct to consider what the Christian view of marriage and procreation is based on and whether homosexual acts can be integrated into it at all? That is much more interesting than assuming emotional platitudes such as: “For this relationship, although not a church marriage, can also be a source of peace and shared happiness for those involved,” as the bishops write in the document in which they announce their new “pastoral organ”.  The same weak argumentation can be applied to very different relationships, including that of a married man who sees no other way out than to seek solace  from  his mistress or a prostitute of his preference. Why not (with the necessary “discernment” of course) also work out an “inclusive pastoral”  for  all those other problem cases?

In order to truly see what is at stake here, we must base ourselves on the image of man from which the Bible departs, from its first verses in Genesis and further through the salvation history of the people of God. The man originally intended by God is represented as the “image and likeness of God himself.” This means that our ancestors were “perfect” in God’s eyes “in the beginning.”  (The religious formulation says they were in a state of complete “sanctifying grace”). The Genesis story makes it clear to us that this gift was not just free, but subject to certain conditions. For example, they were not allowed to eat from the “tree of good and evil”. By doing so anyway, they themselves – and no longer God – will determine what is good or bad  (in fact, it is exactly what the Flemish bishops have now done). We also learn that there was another important tree in their earthly paradish: the tree of life. This was the gift of God, if they remained faithful to Him: they would not die and physically decompose, but at the end of their earthly life would be taken up directly into God’s kingdom with their perfect soul and body. From this story we can deduce that it concerns two key elements: Life and Love. They lead, among other things,  to “Love and respect for the life that God had given them and that around them”. To this end, their lives had to be “fruitful”, not only by  working the Garden of Eden wisely, but also by caring for a great and healthy offspring. Their original physical perfection and biological complementarity gave them every opportunity to do so, but their hubris and infidelity have led to the many deviations that characterize today’s humanity, both spiritually, physically, and psychologically. Their first descendants were already a mortal danger to each other, and their morals, including sexually, were very quickly relegated to excesses that had nothing to do with the fruitful perfection to which they (like us) were called.

In a cultural context in which biblical and Christian values have largely been lost, this explanation will meet with a lot of criticism. One will e.g. suggest that the Bible consists largely of unproven myths. Going deeper into that would distract us too far here, but our opinion on this can be found in other sections of this website (including in “Bible” and “Creative Evolution”). Commonly used homophile arguments are: “God created me this way” and “I have the right to be who I am”. The first is a blatant denial of Christian doctrine. As mentioned, the first human couple (from which all of present-day mankind descends) was “perfect” in God’s eyes. This means that they are thus “created” by God (through an indirect evolutionary way) and willed. Anything that deviates from that is NOT willed by God: that is the unadulterated Judeo-Christian message. The same erroneous counterargument can  be used by a person with any deviant orientation to justify his/her sexual behaviors, including nymphomaniacs, pedophiles, etc. God did not create or want them that way at all, but their imperfections are the result of human sinfulness, such as the  Biblical message makes  us very clear. As for the second counterargument, we quote here the statement of Blaine Hickman on a web page in which a number of gay men who lead a fruitful and happy heterosexual marriage speak: “My feelings … don’t define me. I am not what I feel; I am what I do.”  .  Bill Seger puts it this way: “We can choose our destination. We can choose the direction we want. It’s not easy… but the blessings are enormous.”  (It’s Possible: Gays and Lesbians Can Have Happy Marriages – Public Discourse (thepublicdiscourse.com) .

The so-called “pastoral” direction taken by the Flemish bishops is by no means as innocent as it is presented. In the reasonably short term, this means the definitive abandonment of Christian marital morality. Chastity and self-control play a crucial role in this. With this decision, a chain reaction has been set in motion that inevitably leads to the inclusion of all possible forms of cohabitation in the Flemish church community. It does not take much imagination to conclude that this is the finale of the saga of doom, in which a dynamic and missionary Flemish Church evolved into a woolly community chasing the new “values and norms”. This final bowing to the zeitgeist can only lead to even more doctrinal dilution. The church’s task is not at all to bless anything and everything. Christ never said anything about that. Its true pastoral task is to guide people on the way to higher perfection. In doing so, she continues the work of Christ’s redemption. “Whoever wants to follow me takes up his cross”, He taught us. That cross belongs to the daily reality of all those who rightly call themselves Christians. It consists of renouncing a large number of temptations. The pain that the cross can bring is by nature no greater for a homosexual who learns to control his sexual tendencies, than for anyone who struggles with a strong extramarital sexual attraction or for certain reasons cannot or should not have sexual relations. This and other crosses are an integral part of the path to perfection taken by a truly believing Christian. That is why Christ called his followers the “salt of the earth”: salt that in itself is not tasty, but in the right proportion making tasty and even vital. On the other hand, the Flemish Church has turned the Christian cross into a toy. The image of the  artist Jan Fabre, convicted of unwanted sexual behavior and sexual assault, which was placed like a kind of Trojan horse in the Antwerp Cathedral, perfectly illustrates the new ecclesiastical mindset: a golden man trying to balance a golden cross in his open palm, as if it were a luxury toy.

In contrast to this ecclesiastical decline, we place an appeal to the faithful Flemish and also the Walloon Catholics to pray for the conversion of their strayed ecclesiastical authorities and for the pope who sees how the Church is being torn apart. Of course, it is also good that they express their opinions in their parish community and hold their pastors to account. It would also be good if people with an ecclesiastical function openly rejected this doctrinal schism and considered together the right attitude to be taken. Suggestions and exchanges are welcome.  Finally, we ask for cooperation in the maximum dissemination of this appeal, which is also intended as a fraternal correction and urgent warning.  (2)

(1) See: Dr. G.J.M. van den  Aardweg, Die Wissenshaft sagt NEIN: Der Betrug der Homo-“Ehe”, with prefaces by Dr. Theo Lehmann, Lutheran theologian, and Mgr. Andreas Laun, emeritus auxiliary bishop of Salzburg.  Ed.: Lichtzeichen Verlag, Lage (Germany).

(2) See also Arnaud Dumouche’s French-language response on YouTube: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iihBDOzIbQ) .

IVH

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