14 June 2017
Dutch bishop allows Gay Pride service in his cathedral
Permission does not imply 'an endorsement of gay culture', writes Bishop in open letter to parishioners
Bishop Gerard de Korte of ’s-Hertogenbosch will allow an ecumenical prayer service to take place in his cathedral as part of the Netherlands Gay Pride events in late June, provided nothing is said there that contradicted the teaching of the Catholic Church.
At the request of the organisers, he is due to attend the “Pink Saturday” service on 24 June and conclude it with a short address and a blessing. In an open letter to parishioners, he said this did not mean an endorsement of gay culture.
News of the service prompted a debate in the southern Dutch diocese, the most populous in the country, with opinions divided even in the diocesan priests council, which asked him to clarify his stand.
“Things will probably happen in the city on Pink Saturday that Catholics and other Christians, including believing homosexuals, strongly disapprove of,” Bishop De Korte wrote in the letter.
But he said that, as one of his priests observed, things happened in Carnival season before Lent that were “hard to reconcile with Catholic ethics” but that was no reason for the Church to abstain from Carnival celebrations.
He said the Church defended traditional marriage and considered homosexual acts disordered but also insists that gays be treated with respect. “I am confident that the service will remain serene,” he wrote.
The bishop said there was a deep divide between “what the Church says and the experience of many people both outside and inside of our Church”. But he added that “we are not called on to throw stones. If God counts sins, nobody is left standing”.
The bishop, who was appointed to the diocese last year after eight years in Groningen-Leeuwarden in the north, said the cathedral’s pastoral team was responsible for the service and he left the decision to hold it to them, under the condition that it “does not hurt the religious feelings of our believers”.
PICTURE: Revellers participate in the annual Canal Parade, one of the city's Gay Pride events, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2016
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