Radical proposals by a Belgian bishop for the family Synod in Rome have been rejected comprehensively by a growing international coalition of pro-family groups.
Johan Bonny, the Catholic bishop of Antwerp, made the proposals in an Open Letter, published 1 September. The essesnce of the letter urges the Synod on the Family to have the courage to bring the Church’s moral teachings more in line with the lived experience of the laity.
The coalition group Voice of the Family, a lay Catholic initiative of major pro-life and pro-family organisations, formed to offer their expertise and resources before, during and after the Synod has highlighted a long list of problems with Bishop Bonny’s Open Letter.
These include that it denies the reality of moral absolutes in the name of ‘proportionalism’, an approach to morality always condemned by the Church. The letter, the group added, “contradicts” those teachings of the Second Vatican Council which uphold objective morality and moral absolutes, including in the area of sexual ethics.
It says Bishop Bonny’s letter also “quotes selectively” from the Second Vatican Council, “omitting crucial material” which rejects the bishop’s approach.
Furthermore, the letter “rejects natural moral law”, which the Church has upheld throughout its history and effectively “denies the indissolubility of marriage, by reducing it to the subjective decisions of couples,” the coalition said.
Voice of the Family said the letter offers “no real support for couples in difficult situations” and “ignores the needs of children, including the need to be protected from damaging effects of parents’ irregular situations”
It added that the document also “gives no criteria for worthiness to receive Holy Communion, and no explanation how mortal sin could possibly be compatible with receiving Holy Communion”, nor does it “define ‘conscience’, even though it is a key topic in the letter.
The coalition goes so far as to say that the proposals even appear to “endorse use of IVF, despite the fact that IVF has been repeatedly condemned by the Church, and typically involves the destruction of human life.” It also “implies support for the myth of world ‘over-population’.”
The full text of Voice of the Family’s response to Bishop Bonny can be read here.