Vatican fury as priest comes out on eve of bishops meet
The Vatican reacted furiously on Saturday after a priest employed as a senior official publicly declared his homosexuality on the eve of a synod of bishops that is due to touch on the divisive issue of the Church’s relationship to gay believers.
In a statement, a spokesman for Pope Francis said Polish priest Krzystof Charamsa’s action had been “very serious and irresponsible,” and that he would be automatically kicked out of his post as a theologian in the Vatican.
Flanked by his Catalan boyfriend and sporting his priest’s collar, Charamsa told a news conference in Rome he had been compelled to speak out against the hypocrisy and paranoia that he says shapes the Church’s attitude to sexual minorities.
While appearing resigned to the fact that his life as a priest is over, he said: “I’m out of the closet and I’m very happy about that.”
Visibly moved at times but always smiling, the 43-year-old added in Italian: “I want to be an advocate for all sexual minorities and their families who have suffered in silence.”
In an indication that Charamsa had planned the move for some time, he presented a 10-point “liberation manifesto” against “institutionalized 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.
“I dedicate my coming out to all gay priests,” Charamsa said. “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.”
Charamsa, 43, timed his announcement for maximum media impact, coming as it did on the eve of a synod that is the second and final round of a review of Catholic teaching on the family.
It was the timing of Charamsa’s action rather than the substance of what he said that infuriated his superiors.
In its statement, the Vatican said “the decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the Synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the Synod assembly to undue media pressure.”
“Msgr. Charamsa will certainly be unable to continue to carry out his previous work in (Vatican body) 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).”
Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, left, and his partner Eduard, surname not given, leave a restaurant in downtown Rome, Saturday, Oct. 3.