Belgian Catholic bishop co-signs LGBT protection charter
May 25, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp, Belgium, joined a series of religious and political leaders in signing of a charter by which all committed to fight “discrimination” against the “LGBTQ+” community and its members. The event took place in the Flemish parliament last Monday to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Bonny, who had previously outed his “anger” at the recent “responsum” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recalling that the Catholic Church cannot bless “homosexual unions,” was the official representative for the Church.
The event took place on Monday, May 17, in memory of the day the World Health Organization officially removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses in 1990.
The day was marked by many initiatives including flying the rainbow flag on official buildings in all the Flemish municipalities “in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community,” while teachers and pupils in 190 schools in the region wore purple (even purple masks) to classes as a sign of non-discrimination, together with the staff and students of universities. Obviously Catholic schools – recognizable on video news reports thanks to the crucifix hanging on the class wall – also joined. The major news media VRT showed one teenage girl in such a school saying: “I’m in love with a girl myself. I think it’s great that they’re doing this.”
Giving momentum to the initiatives was the idea that “LGBTQ+” individuals experience discrimination and violence even in Belgium. The Belgian minister for “Equal chances,” Bart Somers (Open-VLD, conservative-liberal party), said: “Nine out of ten holebi’s [homosexual, lesbian, bi] have already had to do with physical or verbal violence. Eighty percent of trans people have already thought about committing suicide. A day like today offers support and makes these issues open to discussion.”
The charter signed on Monday by the five major political parties and representatives of the “recognized world visions” – including Catholicism and Islam – in the Parliament of Flanders was triggered by a violent incident that led to the death of a homosexual man, David Polfliet, who was lured to a park in the town of Beveren last March by messages on a homosexual dating site, and then killed. Several suspects, all minors known to the police for theft and assault, are in custody.
Obviously, no Catholic would condone such a crime for supposedly “moral” reasons or disapproval of homosexual activity. Murder is a crime, and Polfliet’s murder was a particularly brutal one at that. Questions have been raised about the suspects’ background: are they radical Muslims, fascinated by fundamentalist Islam’s violent repression – including the death penalty – of convicted homosexuals?
But the event was used to condemn all discrimination against a “minority” or a category of people – which leads to the affirmation of equal rights and interchangeability between cultures, religions, life-choices, and so on – instead of talking about unjust discrimination, in this case a particularly barbarous crime which would be condemned by any reasonable standards, and whatever the personal choices of the victim.
The parliamentary charter was set up by Lorin Parys, a self-proclaimed homosexual member of the Flemish parliament under the colors of the N-VA, a “conservative,” center-right, secessionist party in Flanders. On March 15, he tweeted an appeal to dialogue within the Parliament between politicians and religious leaders “about homosexuality and the role of religion.”
“We really need to take steps forward,” he wrote, illustrating his message with a picture of Pope Francis celebrating Mass in pink ornaments and quoting a press article about the CDF’s condemnation of the blessing of same-sex couples.
In a text posted by Parys on the N-VA’s website, the main message of the charter was stressed: “We condemn every form of intimidation, discrimination and violence on the basis of someone’s sexual orientation. Full stop. Every person is equal, no-one from the LGBTQI+ community may be discriminated against.” The slip from violent crime to an all-round banning of any kind of discrimination is very obvious here. It should be recalled that the original meaning of “discrimination” is to make distinctions – and these can use just or unjust categories.
In another message, Parys talked about his “husband of 18 years” and three “adorable children,” proclaiming: “We shall not rest until everyone is convinced that our families are just as ordinary and tiresome as yours. Until the person with whom you are in love is just as banal as the color of your hair. And if you all promise to love your children – even if they’re gay – Bart and I promise to love ours, even if they turn out to be heteros.”
Parys deplored that two out of three “LGBTs” are supposedly fearful of holding hands in public with their same-sex companion, and that one out of five young men in Belgium is opposed to equal rights for “LGBT” persons, according to a survey by Ghent University.
Keep in mind that this ultimately includes access of same-sex couples to “marriage” or some type of civil union equivalent to marriage, adoption, and artificial procreation or surrogacy. The study spoke mainly about violence and negative attitudes, but underscored that traditional religious beliefs are a common factor for “homophobia,” which it ascribes both to rural conservative Belgians and to mainly Islamic ethnic groups in the large towns.
At the Monday, May 17 meeting, the political representatives turned towards the religious leaders in a bid to get them to commit to address the issue of “LGBT” rights: “We also appeal to each worldview, while respecting the uniqueness of each religion, to raise awareness of the issue. For example, we ask that the religious communities commit themselves also to act as a safe haven where people from the LGTBQI+ community and questioning young people can go. They can start the conversation with them themselves, within their own worldview reference, but also refer them to specialized agencies.”
The religious leaders responded: “We would like to respond to the call to keep the dialogue between politics and ideologies open and to see each other on a regular basis. Talking to each other in the quiet about difficult subjects brings insight and better mutual understanding.”
These lines were included in the Charter, as well as the words: “We stress today that every person has the same value and that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity will not be tolerated. Together, we point to the European Human Rights Treaty… including respect for free choice of one’s partner.”
It is not only rights of homosexual individuals that are being proclaimed here, but gender ideology itself, which affirms every person’s right to decide what “gender” he or she belongs to.
Besides Bishop Johan Bonny, the signatories included Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Islam, Buddhist, and “humanist” representatives (free-thinkers).
The full charter is available here (in Dutch).
While Bishop Bonny was signing the Charter at the Flemish Parliament, the Catholic Church’s official website in Belgium published its own statement on May 17 marking the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT):
Together against any form of discrimination and hatred. Together for a society where all people are respected in their fundamental dignity.
Discrimination and hatred, for whatever reason, are not consistent with the fundamental dignity of every human being, nor with the Good News of God's love for every human being.
Pope Francis, in Article 250 of the World Letter Amoris laetitia - The Joy of Love - stresses that all human beings, regardless of sexual orientation, must be respected in their dignity and treated with respect, and that all forms of aggression and violence must be avoided. As the Interdiocesan Office for Family Pastoral Care, we also want to emphasize this.
We encourage all victims of LGBT violence to talk about it with a confidant, to contact a helpline - such as www.1712.be (for questions about violence and abuse) and www.tele-onthaal.be (tel. 106) - or to report it to the police.
The “Pastoral care for families” page where this message was posted also includes links to James Martin, SJ’s book Building a Bridge, to a video of his lecture at the World Family Days in Dublin in 2018 and to Bonny’s and the Belgian Bishops’ Conference critical assessment of the CDF’s responsum on blessings for same-sex couples.
The latter statement read:
The Belgian bishops have taken note of the responsum of March 15, 2021 by which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reiterates that the blessing of the life community of persons of the same sex is not possible. They realize that this is particularly painful for many gay believers, their parents and grandparents, their families and friends.
For years, the Catholic Church community of our country in all its ranks (bishops, priests, deacons and pastoral staff, theologians, scientists, politicians and social workers), together with other social actors, has been working to create a climate of respect, recognition and integration. Many of them, moreover, are committed to an ecclesiastical association or a Christian institution. The bishops encourage their collaborators to continue on this path. In doing so, they feel supported by the exhortation Amoris laetitia, The Joy of Love, which Pope Francis wrote after the 2015 Synod of Bishops: discern, accompany and integrate; these remain the main keywords for the bishops.
The May 17 communiqué of the Catholic Church also pointed to the reflections of moral theologians of the (Catholic) University of Louvain published on April 1 of this year, which completely rejected the responsum of the CDF and stressed that using the word “sin” to speak of a “faithful, mutual, durable and qualitative love-relationship between homosexual persons.”