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Women deacons and married priests: Belgian bishops call for change

07:02 21/02/2024

In a draft text submitted to the various dioceses, Belgian bishops are calling for the position of deacon - currently reserved for men - to be opened up to women, along with an end to compulsory celibacy.

The text includes a list of priorities following the synod that the Catholic Church held in Rome last October.

Belgian bishops say the Church needs to facilitate an open dialogue on changes in society, asking that thought be given to the place to be accorded to women within the Church, along with the limitations to ordination currently imposed upon married men.

In line with these views, David Nas, a 33-year-old married seminarian from the Chaldean community in Belgium, was ordained a priest in Koekelberg basilica earlier this month.

This is the first time that the archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels has ordained a married man to the priesthood since its creation in 1559.

The Chaldean community in Belgium is one of the Eastern Catholic Churches that is in communion with Rome but celebrates the liturgy in the Eastern rite. Its priests are not obliged to be celibate.

Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, Patriarch of Baghdad, presided over the ordination with Luc Terlinden, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels.

The Nas family is originally from south-east Turkey and fled to flee to Europe in 1989 because of religious tensions. They were welcomed by the Ursuline Sisters in Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Waver, near Mechelen, and settled there.

David Nas was born in Mechelen and married in 2013. The couple have three children. In 2015, Nas enrolled at the Jean XIII seminary in Leuven and was ordained a deacon in February last year in Mechelen.

Photo: Jonas Roosens/Belga

Written by Helen Lyons