The Vatican on Saturday dismissed a gay priest from his Holy See job on the eve of a major Church meeting; for a highly public coming out that challenged the Roman Catholic teaching that homosexual acts are a sin.
Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, a Polish theologian, had worked at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal arm, since 2003. He was also sacked from his jobs teaching theology at pontifical universities in Rome.
Charamsa, 43, told Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper that he was gay and had a partner in an interview published on Saturday. The Church does not consider homosexuality a sin but priests, whether heterosexual or gay, are meant to be celibate.
Charasma also held a news conference with his partner and gay activists at a Rome restaurant. They had planned a demonstration in front of the Vatican but changed the venue several hours before it was due to have started.
The Vatican said the dismissal had nothing to do with Charasma’s reflections on his personal life, which it said “merit respect”.
But it said giving the interview and the planned demonstration was “grave and irresponsible” given their timing on the eve of a synod of bishops who will discuss family issues, including the Church’s position on gays.
It said his actions would subject the synod, which Pope Francis is due to open on Sunday, to “undue media pressure”.
At the news conference, Charamsa said he wanted to make “an enormous noise for the good of the Church” and apply “good Christian pressure” on the synod not to forget homosexual believers.
“This decision of mine to come out was a very personal one taken in a Catholic Church that is homophobic and very difficult and harsh (towards gays) ” he said.
He suggested that a study be made of how many homosexuals work in the Vatican. “We can’t continue showing contempt and offence towards homosexuals,” he said.
The issue of homosexuality and the church has dominated the aftermath of the pope’s visit to the United States last week.
“I ask the pope to be strong and to remember us, homosexuals, lesbians, transsexuals and bisexuals as children of the church and members of humanity,” Charamsa said.
The Vatican has been embarrassed by a row over the pope’s meeting during his US trip with Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who went to jail in September for refusing to honour a US Supreme Court ruling and issue same-sex marriage licences.
This Reuters article from Vatican City depicts a former Vatican theologian, Polish Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, explaining his motive in publicly announcing his long-time partnership with another man. Fr. Charasma wants to take a stand on the situation of what might be seen as double-standards in the Roman Catholic Church on the issue of homosexuality.
This happens at the very time that Bishops from around the world are gathered in Rome to consider the results of world-wide discussions by Catholic dioceses of – amongst other things concerning intimate family life – the phenomenon of homosexuality and its impact on the Church.
This could be the first of a number of highly-placed Roman Catholic clergy becoming ready to admit the fact that, in the background of their lives, there is a ‘skeleton on the cupboard’ – a hitherto hidden relationship that the Church has traditionally either condemned, or ignored. The hypocrisy this has inflicted on the Roman Catholic Church – not unlike that inflicted on the Church of England and other Christian Churches around the world – needs to be exposed, in order to rid the Church of an endemic culture of homophobia that Pope Francis, as well as other Church Leaders, has decried as having no place in the Body of Christ.
The current Bishops’ Meeting with the Pope will no doubt be brought face to face with the reality of this latest ‘outing’ of an acknowledged Gay priest working within the Vatican. The question is; What will they do about it? And how will the outcome affect the future of Church policy towards the LGBTQI community that exists within its ranks?
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand