The Vatican has come under fire after dismissing a high-ranking Polish priest on the same day he revealed that he was gay.
Father Krzystof Charamsa, who held a post in the Vatican’s branch for protecting Catholic dogma, urged the Catholic church to change its ‘backwards’ attitude to homosexuality.
The 43-year-old revealed that he also had a Spanish partner, in two separate interviews with an Italian newspaper and a Polish news programme.
‘It’s time for the Church to open its eyes about gay Catholics and to understand that the solution it proposes to them – total abstinence from a life of love – is inhuman,’ he told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, saying he wanted to challenge the Church’s ‘paranoia’.
‘I know that I will have to give up my ministry which is my whole life.
‘I know that the Church will see me as someone who did not know how to fulfil his duty [to remain chaste], who is lost and who is not even with a woman but with a man!’
The priest, who had held a post at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith since 2003, later held a news conference with his Catalan partner and gay activists at a restaurant in Rome.
‘I want to be an advocate for all sexual minorities and their families who have suffered in silence,’ he said during the press conference.
‘I dedicate my coming out to all gay priests.
‘I wish them happiness even if I know that most of them will not have the courage to make the gesture I have made today.
‘To my Church, I want to say that I reject and I denounce the current atmosphere of exasperating homophobia.
‘Open your eyes to the suffering of gay people, to their desire for love.’
He added: ‘I place myself in the hands of God.’
He went on to present a 10-point ‘liberation manifesto’ against ‘institutionalised homophobia in the Church’, which he said particularly oppressed the gay men who, according to him, make up the majority of priests.
He also revealed plans for a book about his 12 years at the heart of a Vatican bureaucracy only just recovering from a scandal under previous Pope Benedict XVI over the influence of a ‘gay lobby’ among senior clergy.
He had also planned a demonstration in front of the Vatican, but changed the venue several hours before it was due to start.
But the Vatican insists the dismissal had nothing to do with Father Charamsa’s homosexuality, which it said ‘merits respect’.
It said, however, that giving the interview and the planned demonstration was ‘grave and irresponsible’ given their timing on the evening before a synod [meeting] of bishops that was set to discuss family issues, including how to reach out to gay people.
It said his actions would subject the synod, which Pope Francis is due to open tomorrow, to ‘undue media pressure’.
It continued: ‘Msgr. Charamsa will certainly be unable to continue to carry out his previous work in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical universities, while the other aspects of his situation shall remain the competence of his diocesan Ordinary [local bishop].’
Although the issue of homosexuality forms only a tiny part of the synod’s agenda, it has dominated the run-up to the three-week meeting and become a lightning rod for a broader debate between reformists and conservatives in the Church.
The issue of homosexuality and the Church has dominated the aftermath of the Pope’s visit to the United States last week.
In the interview, Charamsa said his partner had helped him come to terms with his sexuality and knew he would have to give up the priesthood, although the Vatican statement made no reference to this outcome.