In an interview published very recently on Knack.be, the Bishop of Antwerp Johan Bonny made the following statement regarding the movement that produced the heretical Gelovigen nemen het woord manifesto (Rorate posted about that movement here):
I fully understand it. The Church can not avoid the debate about the criteria for ordination. Personally, I strongly believe in the value of the unmarried priesthood and a full availability for Christ and the Church community. But I also think that the ordination of a number of married men or deacons to the priesthood can be an enrichment for the Church. In the eastern Catholic Churches married priests are more the rule than the exception. That fact is therefore not unfamiliar for the Catholic Church. The ordination of women to priests is theologically far more difficult. In the west that concern is present in broad layers of society, but worldwide the support is extremely small. But I do think that there needs to be more discussion about the place and role of the woman in the Church. Women must be allowed to take on responsible duties in the Church, on all levels.
(Translation by In Caelo.)
Many of our readers will certainly recall that another recently-appointed Belgian bishop, Jozef De Kesel of Bruges, expressed similar sentiments last year albeit more bluntly. Although the Bishop of Antwerp is careful not to openly question the teaching of the Church against the ordination of women, his lack of any reference to the definitive status of this teaching combined with the manner that he segues from the question of women's ordination to the need for women to take "responsible duties in the Church, on all levels", is extremely telling.
In the same interview, the bishop notes that the average age of active priests in his diocese ranges from 75 to 80 years.
Bishop Johan Bonny (b. 1955) served as an official of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from 1997 to 2008, the relationship with the dissident Eastern Churches being one of his main responsibilities. He was elevated to the episcopate and appointed Bishop of Antwerp by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.