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World Religions in Assisi with Pope Francis


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Jozef Bonny Johan

Catholic Bishop, Belgium

Johan Jozef Bonny (Oostende, 10 July 1955) is the 22nd Bishop of Antwerpen, Belgium.

Johan Bonny was born in Moere (Gistel) in 1955. He is the oldest of five children from a farmer's family. He is the son of Gustaaf Bonny and Marie-Jeanne Lootens. He went through primary school in Eernegem and Moere. He took the lower secondary education at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Gistel College and higher secondary education at Sint-Janscollege in Meldert. After his school in 1973 he went to the Major Seminary of Bruges.

On 20 July 1980, he was ordained priest by Msgr. Emiel-Jozef De Smedt, then Bishop of Bruges. Bonny helped founding the community of l'Arche in Moerkerke and remained attached to it as a priest.

In 1982 he obtained a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Then Msgr. De Smedt appointed him archivist and professor to the Major Seminary of Bruges, where he taught Church History, Dogmatic theology, Ecumenism and spirituality. At the same time, he worked with the renowned expert in Christian mystics Albert de Blaere. He defended in 1988 a doctorate on the Flemish mystic John of Ruysbroeck, entitled "Het ghemeyne leven in de werken van Jan van Ruusbroec" (English: The "ghemeyne leven" in the works of John of Ruysbroeck). In 1985 Msgr. Roger Vangheluwe appointed him director of the department of theology and, in 1991, spiritual director of the Major Seminary of Bruges .

Johan Bonny moved in 1997 to Rome with two new appointments. Firstly, on June 5, he was appointed collaborator to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Johan Bonny was responsible for ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches, mainly in the Middle East. He took part in theological dialogue with the Orthodox church, with the Oriental Orthodox churches (including the Coptic, Syrian, Armenian and Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church) and the Assyrian Church of the East. He also kept the relationship between the Council and a number of communities or movements, such as Taizé and L'Arche. Secondly, Cardinal Godfried Danneels and the Belgian bishops appointed him rector of the Belgian Papal College in Rome in succession to Msgr. Werner Quintens.

On 9 January 2002 he was appointed Chaplain of His Holiness by Pope John Paul II.

On 28 October 2008 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Bonny the 22nd bishop of the Diocese of Antwerp. His bishop's motto is The Lamb will be their shepherd (Latin: Agnus pascet illos). On 4 January 2009, Johan Bonny was enthroned to bishop of the Diocese of Antwerp in the Antwerp's Our Lady Cathedral by Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Bishop Paul Van den Berghe and Bishop Roger Vangheluwe in presence of various religious and civil dignitaries, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, Archbishop Wim Eijk and Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard.

Bishop Bonny has called for ecclesiastical recognition of gay relationships, according to an interview published in De Morgen, a Belgian newspaper, on Dec. 27. The official teaching that the Catholic church can recognize only male-female committed relationships has to change, Bonny said. "There should be recognition of a diversity of forms," he said. "We have to look inside the church for a formal recognition of the kind of interpersonal relationship that is also present in many gay couples. Just as there are a variety of legal frameworks for partners in civil society, one must arrive at a diversity of forms in the church. … The intrinsic values are more important to me than the institutional question. The Christian ethic is based on lasting relationships where exclusivity, loyalty, and care are central to each other." Bonny made headlines in September when he issued a letter to the Vatican in preparation for the Synod on the family in October. At that time, Bonny stressed that the church urgently needs to connect with contemporary society, showing more respect for homosexuality, divorced people and modern kinds of relationships.

Some Catholics argue however that contemporary society urgently needs to connect with the Church, and show more respect for Tradition, holiness, and the spiritual patrimony of the Church.

In January 2015 he received an award by çavaria, the association of Flemish LGBT organisations, for his call for acceptance. Bonny however said the award was unnecessary.

[September 2016]
Source: Wikipedia

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