Belgian bishops advocate for women's diaconate and end to celibacy

Ahead of the October Synod of Bishops in Rome, Belgian bishops have called for the diaconate for women and the abolition of compulsory celibacy. "Giving women more pastoral responsibility does not have to be universally obligatory or forbidden," they say, while also arguing for the ordination of married men to the priesthood.

The bishops start from three observations, they say in a draft text submitted for discussion in the various dioceses. Firstly, they stress the need for a synodally missionary church to engage in open dialogue with the evolving world. They also affirm that the Church must move beyond "one-way communication in spreading the Good News" and instead define ecclesial traditions as "dynamic and evolving". Finally, they advocate concrete measures to decentralise certain decisions within the church, promoting unity alongside "legitimate diversity".

From there, the bishops call for reflection on the place of women in the Church. "We ask for the green light for certain steps to be taken by the Bishops' Conferences or the Continental Bishops' Assemblies. In this way, the delegation of increasing pastoral responsibilities to women and the ordination of women to the diaconate need not be universally obligatory or forbidden," they said.

The bishops also support the ordination of married men to the priesthood. This should not be universally obligatory or forbidden, the bishops said.

This year's Synod of Bishops, an international gathering of bishops and advisory body to the Pope, will take place from Wednesday 2 October to Sunday 27 October.



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