Rorate Caeli

The crisis of the Church is a crisis of Bishops 3 - the Bishop of Antwerp on celibacy and the ordination of women

In an interview published very recently on, 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. 


  1. When will these Prelates realize that this junk is, among other things, boorrring? Nobody wants to give their life, even unto death, for a Church who compromises with the world, buddies up to it, and attempts to erode even its most exalted truths to satisfy the malformed desires of "modern man."

    I would not give my life for a half-hearted Catholicism. I would not die for that. God willing, I would die for the true Faith.

  2. Stanco6:53 PM

    They just keep applying more of the same poison that caused the sickness in the first place....

  3. Delphina6:56 PM

    "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."

    Ah! The infamous "but"!!

    Sounds like those "Catholic" politicians..."personally, I am against abortion, but...".

  4. Gregorian Chant7:05 PM

    Mary was hidden, and IS the most important woman in the Church.

  5. More clap-trap from those who have "canonical jurisdiction and faculties" while the FSSPX awaits a decision from the CDF. Doesn't this just tick you off? It's not about one-upmanship (man vs woman) but about the way Jesus structured His church. The dedicated nuns I had in school in the 40's and 50's were fully integrated into the life of the Church and didn't need "ordination" to make them feel like they were important. They were living saints and God bless 'em all.

  6. Another Catholic sheppard uncomfortable in his own skin. I hope the new generation will feel their disciplines are a gift to be cherished and not a burden to be undermined.

  7. J. G. Ratkaj8:42 PM

    One shouldn't wonder that scarcely anybody takes seriously innumerable representants of the institutional church in europe. Interviews like this one or the naive positive comments of Maline's Archbishop Leonard, another of this typical akward prelate, about this so called movement of "indignados" are desperate attempts to appease a socitey where the fundaments of faith have already eroded. This will not gain souls but on the contrary create just more confusion and apostasy.

  8. For the record, I don't support the current movement to allow married priests within the Latin Rite. With that said, I sense more than a bit of derision toward the Bishop's choice to reference the unbroken tradition of the Christian East to allow married priests and deacons so long as the marriage occurs prior to ordination. (There are some variants even within the East. For instance, the Slavic Churches generally don't allow elevation to the Subdiaconate until marriage.)

    Even so, there's room for some nuance here. For centuries, priests in the East (and I am referencing the Orthodox specifically, though this generally applies to Eastern Catholics as well) functioned as civil servants, serving the Liturgy once-a-week (and on some feast days) and performing baptisms, funerals, etc. Spiritual guidance was largely left to the monasteries and many monastics heard confessions more regularly than parish priests (secular clergy). Most secular clergy held what we would call "second jobs," either teaching or, in rural areas, tending to farming in order to support their families. The concept of a "full-time priest," which most Catholics take for granted, was simply not the case unless one lived in a major urban center or had a monastery near the village. Even in the U.S. today, most Orthodox parishes are open on Sundays (and maybe Saturday night for Vespers) and that's it. Most missions have a difficult time supporting priests because it means supporting their families as well. Moreover, the common assertion made by Orthodox (and some Eastern Catholics) that a married priesthood is superior because the priest can better relate to his flock strikes me as dubious. Yes, that may be true in some instances, but there are plenty of terrible married clergy in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches.

    I would also add that married priesthood in Orthodoxy (I can't speak on this in Catholicism) has some other downsides which few comment on. There is a longstanding joke within Orthodoxy, particularly in America, of the nervous seminarian praying his bishop won't ordain him before he can lock-down a bride (which isn't as easy as you'd think, given what the future will look like). There's also a tendency in Orthodoxy to treat the priesthood as a jacket you put on and take off, similarly to a pastorate at a Protestant church. This is reinforced, intentionally or not, by the fact that defrocking is a far simpler process in the East than the West; people quit being Orthodox priests all of the time, and there are no repercussions for it.

  9. toekomstige clericus from Flanders9:17 PM

    I think it was unwise of Bishop Bonny to give his personal opinion on married priests. It is very sad that he isn't more robust and clearer on presenting such issues. Please pray for him. He is a decent man, but needs to stop walking a tight rope and grab the nettle by the hand - easier said than done in Belgium. Pray for Catholics there who try to remain faithful.

  10. After they poisoned the doctrine of the Church, they will keep trying to undermine it even more, getting married priests and women, then even gays. It will not stop. Average age in theirs 60-70s for priests, no wonder. They devoid the teachings of content, no wonder they empty seminaries and convents. I think the NO establishment is in collision curse against a wall, the reform of the reform is nowhere to be seen,

  11. ‎"For the truth about Emanuela Orlandi': her brothers appeal to the Pope

    Your Holiness,
    I turn to you in your dual capacity as head of state and representative of Christ on earth to ask you to engage in all that is humanly possible to ascertain the truth about the fate of your compatriot Emanuela Orlandi,missing from Rome since the 22nd of june, 1983.The abduction of a young girl is the most serious offense to religious values and civil society:The greatest injustice of all has been done to Emanuela,she has been denied the opportunity to choose her own life.I put my trust in a decisive and inspired action on your behalf because after 28 years, the bodies responsible for ascertaining the truth (internal and external to the Vatican State) take every action and decision useful to clarify the incident.An act so Christian would only give light to your highest spiritual teaching, freeing the family of Emanuela and the many who have loved her from the agonizing eternal waiting.

    To join the appeal, just send an email to:

    petizione.emanuela @

    stating: "I join the petition to Pope Benedict XVI for the truth about Emanuela Orlandi"
    the following details: Name and surname, ADDRESS AND CITY 'OF RESIDENCE, TELEPHONE NUMBER AND PROFESSION

    You can also join the facebook group:
    petizione.emanuela @ - Official Group founded by Peter

  12. Gabriel,

    It should also be noted that Catholics of the eastern rites, and the Orthodox both have a celibate episcopate. The highest rank attainable by a married priest would be proto-presbyter. And as such, the value of celibacy is evident in that only the celibate can attain the office of bishop.

    As to whether or not a married priest can better relate to a married flock. Your instincts are right. A doctor need not have cancer first before he would know how to treat it.

  13. A lot of hedging of bets here. doesn't want to get nailed by the Pope so he tries to be coy like the serpent in the Garden.
    Have no problem with some married men being ordained as is being done in the Eastern Churches and the newly formed Ordinariates.
    " his lack of any reference to the definitive status of this teaching ", this is a very popular out even among Priests that gives the false hope that women might be ordained in the future (like when the next, younger more hip pope comes in), sad. I dare say most Catholics don't even know this is the official position of not just the Pope but of the Church! Also very sad. Maybe it's time for a declaration "Ex Cathedra" on this issue!

  14. Your Holiness,
    I turn to you in your dual capacity as head of state and representative of Christ on earth to ask you to engage in all that is humanly possible to ascertain the truth about the fate of your compatriot Emanuela Orlandi...

    Save your breath, Grazia. If his holiness did not protest the death of John Paul I, what can you really expect from him on this matter?

  15. Lee Lovelock-Jemmott12:24 AM

    A typical Germanic bishop of the post Vatican II era. Full of vacuous protestant ideas that have no place in the Holy Church. Men like this should be brought to account straight away by the Metropolitan and the Nuncio. No more damn diplomacy and no more ecumenists been elevated. Makes me seethe !

  16. The Church already allows married Priests, under certain conditions.

    The bigger question is why a man would want to be married when he has jurisdiction over a thousand or more souls; doesn't this divide and divert his true loyalty?

  17. Blame the Pope he appointed them

  18. Ah, the old "I'm personally opposed...BUT" argument. Where have I heard that before?

  19. Barbara6:49 AM

    Matthew,well said. Modernist ideas are that, in the end, utterly boring, as they have poor wretched fallen man at the centre of their so called reasoning. It takes the the supernatural reality of Christ, Our Lord, to transform man into something glorious, like the great martyr whose feast we celebrated yesterday...

    "Mary was hidden, and IS the most important woman in the Church"

    Yeah, sure, Gregorian Chant - and that concept has been greatly abused by misogynists in the Church. Not that I don't agree with the fact that Our Lady is the most important woman in the Church..and that men and women have different roles...BUT...

    "The bigger question is why a man would want to be married when he has jurisdiction over a thousand or more souls; doesn't this divide and divert his true loyalty?"

    Yes, Knight of Malta, that is a very good question. The Catholic priesthood is not a "normal job" is it? I have always understood real vocation as a call ftom God, therefore it's a "supernatural job...." requiring virtues that have become "bad words" these days..

    The modernists empty the beauty from everything relating to our humanity...


  20. Mr. Brennan, I am asking you ONCE AGAIN: please, stop promoting anti-traditional ideas here or you will be banned for good.

    Thank you.


  21. Bill Phelan11:54 AM

    Will the Church ever learn that these dissidents have to be challenged by the Vatican immediately and either brought to heel or removed?

  22. Fuzzy Wuzzy2:45 PM

    This bishop apparently wants to make sure we have an egalitarian deck chair configuration upon the Titanic.

  23. Delphina5:17 PM

    Thanks, NC, he is tiresome. As if his "solution" will solve anything.

  24. Well making reference to his work with the "dissident" Eastern Churches, makes no sense.

    Just yesterday I was reading through the text of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, and Pope John Paul II indicates that the tradition of an all male priesthood, has been strongly kept by them.

    So while I am not happy that they are separated from us, I am sure the bishop's funny ideas on this subject, have very little to do with him being around Orthodox people.

  25. Gratias7:17 AM

    Bishop Bonny missed an opportunity for keeping his mouth shut. He should have at least have shown a modicum of loyalty to Benedict XVI for the bishopric.

  26. Increasingly we can understand how the post-conciliar liberal modernist church continues to undermine Roman Catholicism - " I personally believe, but......." The individualisation of belief veiled in the primacy of individual conscience which protestantises once Catholic praxis. Virtually the entire new catholic church has been saturated with postmodern cultural relativisatism and diversity. This new church is in the process of slow and subtle defection while the emergent traditional remnant maintains The Faith as our forefathers knew and comprehended it.

    Are we going to be fooled by such wolves as these?

  27. And this area is now home to a rapidly growing muslim population that will extinguish what is left of Catholicism since the Church has demoralized and reduced it so well.

  28. My only point in referencing Eastern Christians -- Catholic and Orthodox alike (though there is a large contingent which belong to neither) -- was just a point of comparison. Oftentimes when people discuss the possibility of a married priesthood they tend to go to one of two erroneous extremes: 1) Either they vehemently deny it as an abomination and anti-Catholic, without any regard to the Eastern Catholics who have always had a married priesthood (albeit no married episcopate); or 2) They believe that a married priesthood is the magical "answer" to all of the problems in the Catholic Church. It would not be unwise for those concerned about this issue to take a hard look at the married priesthood as it abides in American Orthodoxy (since that is a fairly close point of reference) in order to get a fuller sense of the pros and cons. In my view, the latter outweigh the former, particularly in a cultural context where, unlike in the traditional Orthodox countries of yesteryear, you had a large monastic population to assist the secular clergy with the "spiritual lifting" so-to-speak.

    Just for the record, I spent my formative years as an Eastern Catholic, first serving for a Melkite priest and then later attending a Ukrainian parish. I had a 7-year layover in Orthodoxy, so what I am writing is based largely on personal experience, anecdotes, and the views of other Orthodox. While I knew many married priests who were excellent pastors, I also saw the difficulty of trying to maintain a family while tending to a relatively small flock (less than 100 souls). I can't imagine a married Orthodox priest successfully pastoring a parish of 500 or more, which is probably why many such parishes remain closed except for two hours on Sunday morning. What those who support a married priesthood seem not to understand is that while it may provide an initial flood of new clergy, it's not clear they will be anywhere near as effective as unmarried clergy. Though I don't believe the Latin Rite has the same rules on marital continence and the Mass as they do in the East (i.e., no sexual relations the day before serving the Liturgy), I think there is something untoward in the idea of a priest fulfilling his marital obligation on a regular basis and serving Mass daily. But that's just my view. Because of the longstanding celibacy of Latin Rite clergy, I doubt there is any canon that speaks to this in the West.

  29. Ecclesia Militans5:34 PM

    This short article, especially the part titled "Eastern Tradition" points to the circumstances and the reason of existence of married priests in the East:

    I suggest everyone inform themselves before using a practice (or sometimes a falsification of a pratice) of the East as an excuse to mutilate an ancient tradition of the Latin Church (it has happened before, e.g. with the new rite of consecration of bishops)

  30. Anonymous6:37 PM

    Bonny is an appointment of Pope Benedict XVI and as long as we get mediocre appointments, we will have mediocre Catholicism.

    After reading about the "way", I wonder how interested the Holy Father is in defending orthodoxy at the price of unpopularity.

    The fish stinks from the head down.


  31. Ecclesia Militans12:26 AM

    Another article about the Apostolic Tradition of continence or celibacy:


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