New Ways Ministry: Gay Priest’s Revelation Is Big Step for Himself & the Church

Statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry

Monsignor Krzystof Charamsa’s announcement of his gay sexual orientation is an important step for him personally and an important step for the Catholic Church.  This Vatican official, who worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,  exhibited courage and honesty in making his orientation public.

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa

His revelation is an acknowledgement of the truth of the way God has made him, and, like millions of other LGBT Catholics, his self-acceptance and self-affirmation will help him better understand God’s love for him. For the Catholic Church, his news is another step in our growing process of coming to better terms with our LGBT brothers and sisters.

[For news stories about Monsignor Charamsa’s announcement, see the end of this post.  An English language translation of the Italian newspaper interview with him in which he revealed his orientation can be found by clicking here. The Vatican’s response to the announcement can be read by clicking here. ] 

It is sadly disappointing that the Vatican fired him when they learned of his announcement.  He now joins the long list of LGBT people and allies who have been fired from jobs in Catholic institutions because of LGBT issues.  It is unfortunate that Church leaders did not see Charamsa’s announcement as an opportunity for further dialogue with someone they have known and trusted.

We hope that his news will help the bishops of the world gathering in Rome this weekend for three weeks of synod discussions which will include pastoral outreach to families with LGBT members.  His witness to the holiness of the lives of LGBT people and the goodness of their relational lives could help these church leaders discern more appropriate and accepting forms of pastoral care.   His testimony of struggle and overcoming fear should help these bishops see the challenges and joys that many LGBT people and their families face.

The decision to come out is a highly personal one, and one which only the individual can make.  Only the individual can decide when it is safe and responsible to do so, taking into account the possible negative repercussions that can occur in terms of employment, housing, and relationships.  Only the individual can decide when the pressures of the closet have become too difficult for their emotional and spiritual lives. New Ways Ministry continues to support all LGBT people–including priests, nuns, brothers, deacons, bishops–as they discern when is the appropriate time for them to make such a revelation about themselves.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related articles:

Reuters: “Vatican sacks priest after he comes out as gay”

Huffington Post:  Vatican Fires Gay Priest On Eve Of Synod”


22 replies
  1. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    So much for – who am I to judge. The holy bell is cracked and out of tune. The whore of Babylon (to borrow from Martin Luther) is stuck 500 years ago when scandal was a bigger sin than the sin itself. The same defense was given to cover-up the sex abuse situation which was rampant for much of the 20th Century. The whole Kim Davis story is another example of the church not being able to get its story out without being hypocritical. And now they fire someone who wants to live an honest life. Jesus wept.

  2. Bishop Carlos Florido, osf
    Bishop Carlos Florido, osf says:

    If the RC were to defrock all the closeted gays in the Vatican, they would lose more than 25% of their clergy.

    • Friends
      Friends says:

      And if they were to defrock all the closeted gays in the United States, it would hardly be possible to keep more than a tiny scattering of churches open in any given diocese! Perhaps authorizing “Televised Masses” by “Officially Certified Heterosexual Priests” would be the only available means to keep the Church functioning, even minimally. Denying objective reality creates the express lane to eventual extinction.

  3. Brian Kneeland
    Brian Kneeland says:

    Sadly that Congregation is so conservative it is scary. I think he should have been made an Archbishop after his honesty!

  4. Brian Kneeland
    Brian Kneeland says:

    Sadly that Congregation is so conservative – in my opinion he should have been made an Archbishop for such courage!

  5. rentahermit
    rentahermit says:

    Eventually, there won’t be as many homophobic people entering priestly or religious’s now simply a matter of waiting it out. Say, thirty or forty years down the road……..

  6. Patrick
    Patrick says:

    While I agree with what is normally posted here and, for the most part, I agree with the top part of this statement, I can not in good conscience agree with the bottom part. Just because he is getting air time for being a gay priest doesn’t mean we should wholeheartedly rally around him. While focusing on the fact that he came out as a gay priest, this statement neglects to state that he also revealed himself to be in a serious relationship. It is neither fair nor right to equate a layperson being fired from a teaching or administrative position in a Catholic school or diocese, i.e. someone who is neither called to a life of celibacy or made promises of celibacy, to a priest who has made multiple promises of his own free will. Regardless of one’s view of whether celibacy should be mandatory or not, Msgr. Charamsa made numerous public promises, once again, of his own free will before God and the Church to choose and accept it. I disagree with the the tradition but He freely chose it, so therefore if he would like to be in a relationship with anyone, and if he wants to then great, but he should then chose to seek laicization, not sneak around. Sneaking around, while breaking one’s promises, is not living either courageously or honestly, it’s the opposite. And it doesn’t do us any good to pretend that him coming out is the only thing behind him being sent back to his diocese. It also doesn’t help any priests out there who being gay have to think twice before telling anyone because, as men of their word, who live out the promises they’ve made and take them seriously, they don’t want to be associated with those who ignore their promises or vows and have affairs. And it hurts those priests who would like to come out, those who are faithful to their promises and would like to see change in the Church, when we choose to stand behind someone who has broken their promises, as if there is no difference between those who are faithful to their word and those who are not. Fr. Warren Hall is a much better example of someone who has come out and has also been faithful to their promises. His story resonates with many priests because he has been faithful. As a priest Msgr. Charamsa chose celibacy multiple times and the Vatican would have had to let him go from the position in the CDF if he had publicly stated he was in a relationship with a man or a woman. It’s now up to him and his bishop to decide what to do next. Sorry for the rant. Hope I didn’t make anyone mad but there are other perspectives here even from within our own community. And regardless of the future of celibacy in the Church Msgr. Charamsa did make a promise to live it out.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Thank you Patrick. These were my thoughts exactly. And we aren’t helpful when only half the story is used to support our cause.

    • thom
      thom says:

      I think you did a beautiful job expressing your sentiments, Patrick. …And I wholeheartedly agree.

      It’s one thing to laud someone for the personal choice to publicly accept themselves and their sexuality—especially at the age of 43.

      However, one might think that, at the age of 43, that a priest would have better judgment as to how to proceed with his revelation and not harm others around himself in the process. Monsignor Charamsa’s actions do not benefit the cause of LGBT people in the least—in the eyes of the conservative Vatican curia nor in the eyes of the public, and certainly not during the Synod of Bishops gathering. The sensationalism of Charamsa’s announcement and actions will undoubtedly only serve to embitter bishops who might otherwise have had the opportunity to learn something about LGBT people and perhaps have taken a sympathetic or compassionate view towards expanding perceptions of how loving families can be defined. All Charamsa has done is reaffirmed bigots’ perceptions of gay people as oversexed drama queens who secretly conduct their vow-breaking liaisons behind curtains of secrecy. He broke a vow. And then he very publicly tried to shame the very institution that has provided him with his livelihood, purpose, and mission. That’s the story here… an ill-fitting individual for the commitment he made to do the job. How does that make him any better than crazy Kim Davis who also doesn’t know the ins and outs of how she’s suppose to fulfill her job duties? It’s not okay to say that this one facet of Charamsa’s character—breaking a vow of chastity with disdain—should be overlooked because he is good at his job otherwise. The same could likely be said of Kim Davis—that she fulfills every aspect of her job save for the one character flaw of being a bigot when it comes to LGBT people. In Kim Davis’s case, we feel that if she was not up to the task of the job, then she should leave it and find employment elsewhere. How is it different in Charamsa’s case? If he was not up to the task of the job, then he should have gracefully taken leave of it to pursue his own world view—not stamp his feet and tell his employer (AFTER the broach of misconduct) that, “You have to change for me!” It’s not how change is best approached.

      It’s two separate issues. Of course we don’t think he should be fired for being gay. A priest can obviously be gay and be a productive, compassionate, and effective Church official and messenger of the Gospels. The issue is: HE BROKE HIS VOW OF CHASTITY AS A CONDITION OF HIS OWN SACRAMENT OF BECOMING A PRIEST.

      I am a very strong advocate for exposing the hypocrisy of the Church in regards to their stance on LGBT issues. But let’s not be hypocrites ourselves. We can all be happy for Charamsa on a personal level for his newly found strength and passion to be true and honest [publicly] about his sexuality. But we can also admit that he REALLY went about it the wrong way—a way that is not going to help build bridges for his brethren LGBT Catholics in the least. I won’t say I’m not a little disappointed in this blog post for having put blinders on the story without a more holistic and rounded approach to the RAMIFICATIONS of Charamsa’s actions.

  7. bjmonda
    bjmonda says:

    The Vatican it seems knows nothing nor cares for mental health and it’s affect on the entire personality and potential of an individual. Indeed on the entire population of the world.

    • Brian Kneeland
      Brian Kneeland says:

      I believe it is more that he revealed he has a partner of 17 years that was the main reason to let him go – although they will not say that – and will leave it to his diocesan bishop (like they won’t try to influence him!)

  8. Dale Chavez
    Dale Chavez says:

    Gay or straight … being a priest is a calling not a job … Being a Catholic priest requires taking a vow of chastity … nobody seems to have any trouble understanding this concept with Shaolin monks … why do people have so much problem understanding this concept with Catholic priests … especially Catholic priests?


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] announced his coming out just days before the 2015 Synod on the Family, a moment that was a “big step for himself and the Church” according to New Ways Ministry. He has since moved to Barcelona with his partner, having […]

  2. […] a more robust agenda for moving LGBT issues forward in the Vatican?  Where was this lobby when Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, a Vatican official, came out of the closet? Why no statement from the Vatican against LGBT […]

  3. […] said Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa, the former Vatican official fired after he publicly came out as gay in October. Charamsa added, “The church needs a Stonewall,” referring to the 1960’s protests […]

  4. […] community in that city.  The Guardian noted his opinions, stated in an interview, about how Monsignor Charasma’s coming out as gay, which occurred on the same day as (but unrelated to) the conference, may help the synod […]

  5. […] a former student who is a gay man with a partner, who also met the pontiff; the announcement for a priest at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he is gay. As news develops at that […]

  6. […] You can read New Ways Ministry’s full statement applauding Charamsa’s courage and honesty here. […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *