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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

411 The biggest pastoral question is “how do we help people to grow in grace?"

Updated: May 2, 2021

Day 411: May 1st 2021 Workers Day

As many as 700 mainly young people formally left the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Antwerp in the two weeks after barring the blessing of same sex unions,

- Bishop of Antwerp Johan Bonny

The bishop spoke about the “dramatic” backlash among “mainly straight people” who saw the Vatican document as “a step too far” during a discussion about the Church’s ministry to LGBT Catholics and same-sex couples. He said that as many as 2,000 people had cancelled their baptismal registrations in the Flemish dioceses in Belgium, a traditionally strongly Catholic country.

Criticising the lack of consultation with bishops and Vatican departments with responsibility for family life ahead of publication, Bishop Bonny, a theologian who worked in the Christian unity office in the Vatican, also hit out at the document’s “theological weakness” and failure to reflect the developments in biblical theology, sacramental theology and moral theology. “It’s as if it was written in the time of Pius XII,” he said.

But the practical cost of this, he underlined, was the loss to the faith of Church members.

“It’s not about principles or theories – it's about real people

and that is my concern."

He noted the document’s failure to take into account what the human sciences are saying about sexuality and developments in civil society, as many countries have legalized marriage or civil partnership for LGBT couples and this was now part of the experience of many catholic families.

Bishop Bonny has called for the Church to offer blessings to same-sex couples:

On the decision by the Curia Bonny said: “It’s not in tune with Amoris Laetitia at all,” which he says looks to the positive elements and not condemning people before you talk to them. The three main verbs in Amoris Laetitia are, he said, to accompany, to integrate, and to discern.

He noted that the Responsum had quoted one paragraph in Amoris Laetitia from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says there is no similarity between a marriage between a man and a woman and a homosexual marriage.

“Already in the synod, it was said that this is not true. There are plenty of similarities. Nobody says it is the same, it is not the same. And there are indeed major differences. But to say that there are no possible similarities or analogies, not even the slightest, it’s not true. So, it's repeating something that everybody knows is not true.”

The Belgian prelate added: “There are different ways of loving and taking care of one another and taking up your responsibility in the Church and in society. So not all should be the same, there are differences.

But there are so many possibilities that are coming from the Scripture and from the tradition of the Church, to walk together with people, to bring it before God and to ask God’s blessing on it.”

Theologian Sr Gemma Simmonds of the Margaret Beaufort Institute in Cambridge said she was both “baffled and disappointed” by the Responsum.

“I was disappointed because the ban on blessing gay marriages is so much in contradiction to what Pope Francis himself said, and his whole pastoral approach to the issue of same sex attraction. I looked in the document for some element of a pastoral understanding or for the Church’s pastoral mission and I found none. She continues

I wondered what had happened to our understanding that God is love. And anyone who lives in love, lives in God, and God lives in them. That seemed to be entirely absent from the document.”

“Given that priests and bishops across the world have and continue to bless weapons, nuclear warheads, all sorts of things - who has the power to bless and what do we mean by the blessing of someone’s house… So, in the same way that I was disappointed by it, I was also baffled at what the theological purpose of this statement was.”

For Bishop Bonny, he said he would like the Church to be like a family in which everyone is brought together. Likening his role within that family to a grandfather, he said, “For me, as a bishop, I do not say I agree with everything, or that I find it nice, but they are mine and I should be there for them. And it's my responsibility to make them feel part of that family that is the Church, not only by welcoming them in a passive way, but also by giving them a responsibility in an active way to make them together co-responsible for what is happening in the Church.”


Sister Gemma added:

"We are bleeding women who are walking away, we are bleeding young people, and we are bleeding older people who find that the reality in which they live no longer finds a response within the church of acceptance and blessing.”

The biggest pastoral question is “how do we help people to grow in grace? How do we help each other, to grow in grace? We don’t do that by slamming the door in one another’s face.”



Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,

Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.

And the eyes of those two Indian ponies

Darken with kindness.

They have come gladly out of the willows

To welcome my friend and me.

We step over the barbed wire into the pasture

Where they have been grazing all day, alone.

They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness

That we have come.

They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.

There is no loneliness like theirs.

At home once more, they begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.

I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,

For she has walked over to me

And nuzzled my left hand.

She is black and white,

Her mane falls wild on her forehead,

And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear

That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.

Suddenly I realize

That if I stepped out of my body I would break

Into blossom.

- James Arlington Wright

What the World Needs Now: Dionne Warwick

Simple Song - Bobby Darin

All You Need Is Love



for Mass at 9:30

I just received this invitation from our friends in Santa Barbara

Greetings Emmaus:

We hope members of your community may join us this Sunday.

Jerry and I are 'broadcasting" from Avila Beach (Near Pismo)this week.

Friends are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

We are blessed to have known them.

Rev Dr. Grandma, Cynthia W. Yoshitomi

Join Zoom Meeting Passcode: 344053 Meeting ID: 859 5483 0196

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