Krzysztof Charamsa, a native of Poland, can no longer work at the Vatican or its pontifical universities, but he remains a priest, although a church spokesman said further action might be taken against him.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Saturday fired a monsignor who came out as gay on the eve of a big meeting of the world’s bishops to discuss church outreach to gays, divorcees and more traditional Roman Catholic families.
The Vatican took action after Krzysztof Charamsa, a midlevel official in its doctrine office, came out in newspaper interviews in Italy and Poland saying that he was happy and proud to be a gay priest, and that he was in love with a man whom he identified as his boyfriend.
“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,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.
As a result, Charamsa could no longer work at the Vatican or its pontifical universities, Lombardi said. Despite his dismissal, Charamsa remains a priest, although Lombardi hinted that his superiors could take further action.
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Charamsa, an assistant secretary of the International Theological Commission who teaches at the Pontifical Gregorian University, told the daily newspaper Corriere della Sera he is gay. “I would like the church and my community to know who I am: a homosexual priest, happy and proud of my own identity,” Charamsa said.
Church teachings hold homosexual acts as sinful and “contrary to the natural law,” and Charamsa is the first theologian with an active Vatican role to publicly identify as homosexual, Corriere della Sera reported.
Charamsa, 43, initially planned a news conference in front of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith’s office, but moved it to central Rome after the Vatican action. He was joined by his companion, identified only as Eduard.
A three-week bishops’ synod begins Sunday in the Vatican to discuss questions of marriage and family. The meeting is expected to deal with sensitive social issues that include homosexuality, abortion and contraception.
Charamsa, a native of Poland who has lived in Rome for 17 years, said the timing of his disclosure was not related to the bishops meeting on the family, but hoped it might add “a Christian voice” to the synod that is expected to address how the church can better minister to the faithful who are gay.
“I came out. This is a very personal, difficult and tough decision in the Catholic church’s homophobic world,” Charamsa said, and asked people to bear this in mind.
He said he has written a book in Italian and Polish to “lay bare” his experience “in front of all those who want to confront me.”
Charamsa told the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza that he was motivated to make his sexual orientation public by the hate mail he received after publicly criticizing a right-wing Polish priest who is strongly anti-gay in the Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny.
“I have to say who I am. I am a gay priest. I am a happy and proud gay priest,” he told Gazeta Wyborcza.