Metro Weekly

Vatican disciplines gay priest as synod on family issues kicks off

Priest comes out as bishops gather to discuss homosexuality and other issues in relation to Catholic Church teaching

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City (Photo: Andreas Tille, via Wikimedia Commons).
St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Photo: Andreas Tille, via Wikimedia Commons).

The Vatican is disciplining a Polish-born pope who came out as gay for speaking out as a synod, or meeting of bishops, gathers in Rome to discuss the intricacies of the Church’s stance on issues related to family, including, potentially, homosexuality.

As reported by BBC News, Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — which is tasked with defending Church doctrine — came out in an interview with the Corriere Della Sera, revealing that he is also in a relationship and is “happy and proud” of his identity. Charamsa said he came out in order to challenge the Catholic Church’s “backwards” attitude towards homosexuality.

“There comes a day when something inside you snaps, and you can’t go on,” Charamsa said in the interview. “If I had been alone I would have lived the nightmare of a denied homosexuality, but God never leaves us alone. And I think He has helped me take this important existential step. It’s important because of its consequences, but it’s also the premise for living honestly, which should be natural for every homosexual. The Church is already behind in tackling the issue, and we can’t wait another 50 years, which is why I’ve decided to tell the Church who I am.”

Charamsa also acknowledged that he will likely have to resign and be banned from teaching, at least in Catholic educational institutions, saying: “I’m prepared to pay the consequences, but it’s time the Church opened its eyes, and realized that offering gay believers total abstinence from a life of love is inhuman.”

Charamsa’s reveal of his sexual orientation comes as the Vatican kicks off a three-week meeting of bishops known as the Synod on the Family, where bishops are expected to discuss how Catholic families should heed Church doctrine. They will also likely broach controversial issues such as homosexuality, the status of divorced Catholics, contraception and other family-related issues.

In response to the statement, the Vatican stripped Charamsa of his duties, saying he would no longer be a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Whether he will remain a priest will be decided by a local bishop.

“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,” the Vatican said in a statement.

“I would like to tell the Synod that homosexual love is a kind of family love, a love that needs the family,” Charamsa said in the interview with Corriere Della Serra. “Everyone — gays, lesbians and transsexuals included — foster in their hearts a desire for love and family. Everyone has the right to love, and that love must be protected by society and law. But above all it must be nourished by the Church. Christianity is the religion of love, and love is central to the figure of Jesus we bring to the world. A lesbian or gay couple should be able to openly say to their Church: ‘we love each other according to our nature, and offer this gift of our love to others, because it is a public matter, not just a private one; we are not merely engaged in some extreme pursuit of pleasure.'”

Yet Charamsa’s call for a change in the Church’s attitude towards homosexuality does not seem to be embraced by the pontiff. According to The Huffington Post, Pope Francis dedicated one-third of his homily at the opening Mass of the synod to reaffirming the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage and the importance of heterosexual marriage in procreation. 

“This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self,” the pope said. But while those words cheered social conservatives within the Church’s ranks, Francis also stressed the importance of reaching out to those who fall short of the Church’s expectations — such as homosexuals — a theme that has been common throughout his papacy. 

“The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock,” he said.

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