Open answer to an angry Bishop Johan Bonny

22-03-2021 (Translation of the Dutch original)


In an opinion article in De Standaard and for the Flemish radio and Television (VRT), you got angry with your own Church leadership, for taking positions on homosexuality that “have not yet reached the level of the third secondary”. In addition, they would lack “scientific basis”, as well as “theological nuance” and “ethical carefulness”.  You also contest  a passage that says that “in God’s plan there is no resemblance or even an analogy between heterosexual and same-sex marriage.”

Your discourse is supported by the argument that you know gay couples, even with children, who “form a warm and stable family and actively participate in parochial life”. Apparently, some of these – with your permission – are full-time active as church employees.

You have every right, of course, to express your opinion, but from a dignitary of the Catholic Church one should expect at least a high degree of cautious loyalty to its leadership. If in some cases you do not agree with her, you can discuss this respectfully with them. If, on the other hand, you engage the press to highlight your “progressive” image and views – then you relegate to the populist level of those who want to go to trial in the media rather than in court. If such a thing were nevertheless desirable, then in a democratic context people who hold a different view in this matter should also be allowed to speak.

Of course you will feel supported by the avant-garde and modernist so-called “basic church”, with which you feel more connected than with your church leadership. But you should also be aware that in our Belgian church province there are still  people who do NOT share your opinion. Unfortunately, they do not have the same opportunity to be covered in the media, because their views are usually rejected in advance or shamelessly silenced.  After all, they do not correspond to the secular zeitgeist and political correctness from which you have made yourself a well-known protagonist.

First, you use a questionable reasoning, when you suggest that there were always different opinions on this issue in the Catholic Church. You may try to prove otherwise, but the official positions on this subject of the Catholic Magisterium have always remained unchanged. It relies on the Bible for this (Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 19:1-29, Leviticus 18:22-25, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:10 and Judas 1:7), the tradition and parts of natural law. (Source:  ).

In addition, both the Magisterium and common sense teach us that children should have the right to a married mother and father. It is not because in practice this is not always possible that this should not be pursued. How many children who would be questioned about this, would spontaneously declare that they would rather have 2 mums or  2  daddies?? (Or possibly 2+1?). How many parents would declare hand on heart (not modernist indoctrinated) that they  don’t care  if their future child were gay?  Or do you think such questions are “incorrect” and may only be asked until the second year of secondary education?

You take a one-sided attitude towards homosexuality, in which this phenomenon is so-called “scientifically” framed. However, it seems more like this framework is derived from a utilitarian ideology. The so-called science does not even give us until now a generally accepted causal explanation for homosexuality. According to the Church, homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”. This declaration is based on the law of nature, a set of principles that refer to human nature. The basic foundation of this is our responsibility to human life. This must be passed on in optimal conditions. There are no scientific findings to show that homosexuality could play a positive role in this. On the contrary, global medical findings point to a direct link between high rates of STDs and male homosexual relationships. There is also a large increase in problem situations in non-heterosexual relationships or feelings in various other domains, such as the psychiatric. Denying this does not help the people who are confronted with this at all.

When you talk about “sin”, you use a very questionable reasoning, which sounds anything but “Catholic”. That’s not a  hard-to-define  category at all, as you claim. That’s just “anything that goes against the will of God.” Christianity teaches us that it is God’s will that we assume our responsibility to pass life on to our offspring in optimal conditions.  If we accept the Bible as the revealed word of God, then we know that it points out the right way to a responsible perception of sexuality. If, on the other hand, we regard the Bible as outdated religious  narratives  (as modernist thinking tells us), then this firm hold falls away and one enters secular paths, which lead in very different directions. It seems that you are in favour of such diversity and that you have more confidence in the changeable arbitrariness of modernity than in the steadfast and life-promoting word of God. It looks like this attitude fits perfectly with the “theological nuance” you are aiming for.

It is striking how much emotional arguments are used in the supposedly enlightened and scientific-based society. At any opportunity, one talks about “love”. Combined with the religious “mercy”, just about everything can be justified and presented as “positive”. Anyone who dares then to raise objections is dismissed as heartless and “not of this heavenly prosperity time” (characterized by a constant increase in psychological disorders).

First of all, it would be very advisable to define well what one means by “love”. If a couple wants to get married, it is not necessarily because it has a lot of “love”. The degree of love that may or may not exist will only come to light afterwards, after the first problem situations. In the first place, marriage occurs because it meets an existential fundamental need, arising from a natural sexual attraction. This is also the case with homosexual relationships and “love” is therefore a cheap emotional argument if one screens with it to justify the latter. In addition, religious heterosexual marriage is characterised by a considerable burden of responsibility – particularly for the potential parents. This is normally not the case with gay couples, unless they are artificially given the opportunity to meet their child’s wishes.

In this area too, you are free to look for ethical arguments for gay families with children. These arguments will undoubtedly be gay friendly, but whether they are also sufficiently child-friendly is highly questionable. Children are not asked for their opinion in adoptions. If we look at the statistics on same-sex marriage, we see that their annual number has fallen since their adoption, while the number of divorces continues to rise, especially among lesbians. This confirms what is known in broad circles, but that apparently gets less attention – namely that homosexual relationships are on average much less stable and that the gay world is characterized by a high degree of promiscuity (cf. a.o. ).

Little respectful and very pretentious is your statement ” You can put Rome in perspective, the Church of Jesus Christ not”. In doing so, you suggest that people with opinions other than yours do not belong to that Church and that Christ himself would have approved homosexual relations; quod non (like neither his apostles).

None of this means that we would not treat our fellow human beings with homosexual tendencies kindly and respectfully. They are free fellow citizens, who freely determine their life choices. But as Catholics, we also have the right to expect our fellow believers to take Catholic morality seriously. This may seem demanding to some, but this is not only the case for homosexuals, but also, for example, for spouses who  cannot have sexual relations for a variety of reasons,  for  celibate  clerics, etc. For people with a paedophile preference,  the ban on sexual relations is even a generally accepted ‘must’. This belongs for the Christians by  “the burden of the cross”. Rejecting or ignoring that lovingly worn cross is not a Christian attitude, but a succumb to the permissive zeitgeist.

Think of all Christians who, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, have carried their personal great or little cross and are willing to continue to carry it. Please stop ridiculing openly your ecclesiastical colleagues and the continuous teachings of the Church. If this reflects the views of the entire Belgian Bishops’ Conference, we must ultimately come to the painful conclusion that we are de facto part of two different Churches: on the one hand, the one that has existed since Christ founded it and, on the other hand, a new one, with “rapidly evolving” and “inclusive” insights, “of a higher level”, perfectly suited to contemporary hedonism.

Sincerely, in Christo,

Ivo Van Hemelryk

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