Antwerp Bishop Johan Bonny has turned down a prize awarded by a Belgian gay group for saying the Catholic Church should be more welcoming to homosexuals, cohabitating couples and those who resort to in-vitro fertilisation.
The group, Çavaria, nominated him for its annual Campaign Award because Bonny wrote an open letter before October’s synod of bishops calling for these reforms. Bonny said at the time he could not accept an award for exercising his mission as a pastor and asked that his name not be considered.
Çavaria went ahead and chose him as the winner anyway. Gay believers could draw strength from his stand, it said, which “is also important for believing parents and grandparents”.
Bonny’s office issued a statement last weekend saying he could not accept the award because he wanted to stay independent of all interest groups, and adding: “His goal remains to unite and reconcile, in the steps of Pope Francis.”