Fired Vatican Gay Priest Is Now Suspended; Calls on Pope to 'Leave Us in Peace'

Monsignor Charamsa and his partner

A Polish priest who, on the eve of the Synod on the Family, came out as gay and announced he has a partner has been indefinitely suspended.

Regardless, Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa remains firm in his calls for the church to stop harming LGBT people and is appealing directly to Pope Francis.

The New York Times reported that Charamsa wrote a letter to the pontiff, asking him to end the “immeasurable suffering” the church has caused LGBT people and their families, writing:

” ‘Be merciful — at least leave us in peace, let the civil states make our lives more humane.’ “

The priest’s letter comes after the Synod’s close, a meeting which has disappointed some LGBT advocates and left others suggesting it was one of several steps towards a more inclusive church. Charamsa called the Synod’s end “homophobic,” singling out Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah’s comparison of LGBT advocacy to “Nazi-Fascism and Communism.” Of these words, the gay priest explained:

” ‘That’s why I renew my appeal to the Holy Father. . .No one publicly said a word against those defamatory sentences. What kind of respect does that show to us all?’ “

[Editor’s note:  Bondings 2.0’s Francis DeBernardo speculated that Pope Francis’ non-specific apology at a general audience during the synod may have been a response to Sarah’s  vicious language.]

For being gay and partnered, Charamsa has been suspended indefinitely per a statement from the Diocese of Pelplin in Poland, reported Crux. This suspension remains in place until the priest shows “a real improvement of life and it can be reversed,” which would includes adherence to the “true teaching of the Church and Christ’s priesthood.” Despite punishment, Charamsa affirmed his decision to come out, saying to NBC News recently:

” ‘I am a gay priest and I am happy to say that I am a gay priest. . .I lost my work in the Vatican, in university, but I think I found my courage, my liberty, my dignity.’ “

Though sanctioned, Charamsa is not silenced and, besides his letter to Pope Francis, he is speaking directly to Catholics through the media. According to Crux, he sharply criticized Catholic teachings on homosexuality during an Italian television program:

” ‘We gays, lesbians, and transsexuals were not created defective . . .I had to hide being homosexual not only in the Vatican, but for my entire ecclesiastical life: during studies in the seminary, during my work in the university, in my parish, in every ecclesiastical setting. . .To be gay in that period was something ugly, horrible, which had to be refused, eliminated, and destroyed, even if it was part of you.'”

The priest told the network, “Retequattro,” that the Catholic Church “cannot continue destroying our lives” and said of his own life:

” ‘A year from now, I see myself free, happy, out of the closet, and serving the same ideals and the same values for which I became a priest.’ “

Charamsa also denied reports he was paid to come out or was otherwise benefiting, reported AFP, and further said there was no “gay lobby” at the Vatican though he added:

” ‘I met homosexual priests, often isolated like me. . .But I also met several fantastic homosexuals who are some of the best ministers in the Church.’ “

Charamsa has released a 10-point “liberation manifesto” for the church to address the harm it causes through institutional homophobia, reported The Independentand said previously that the church’s expectation of gay people to be celibate for life is “inhuman.”

The priest’s coming out has prompted larger conversations about gay priests and news broke around the same time of other gay priests being removed from active ministry for their sexual orientation. In Chicago, Crux reported a priest was removed from ministry for an “inappropriate relationship with an adult man.”

Reports also surfaced of a Vatican retreat in Italy which seeks to “cure” gay priests and others with “inappropriate sexual tendencies. Former priest Mario Bonfante claimed he was expelled from religious life after coming out as gay and refusing to seek treatment. Spokespeople for both the Vatican and the retreat are refusing to comment, reported Sunshine Coast Daily, but critics are not holding back. New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director Francis DeBernardo said:

” ‘This sort of thing is completely wrong. . .Being gay is not a disease that needs to be cured. . .What needs to be cured is not homosexuality but homophobia.’ “

That homophobia, all too present in the institutional church, as a recent incident in Italy revealed. A priest, Gino Flaim, defended pedophilia, saying victims sought affection.  He also said that homosexuality was a disease. Thankfully, he was suspended quickly.

The Polish priest’s harsh treatment for being gay and partnered is in sharp contrast to the harboring of priests who abused children, observed Peter Saunders, a clerical sex abuse victim and member of Pope Francis’ commission on the issue. Michael Coren criticized the church’s hypocrisy when it comes to gay priests, too, in The Star, writing:

“When it comes to sexuality the Roman Catholic Church is living a lie, one that has become so systemic and accepted that it’s now part of Catholic culture. Some of the finest priests I have ever met have been gay, partly perhaps because they understand a sense of ‘the other’ and thus evince compassion and empathy. . .

“Rome has to abolish compulsory clerical celibacy, admit and embrace its gay priests and lay people, stop obsessing about sex and sexuality, and open the doors of the church and, forgive me, the closet.”

Msgr. Charamsa is clear that coming out has helped him not only be freer and happier, but, as he told NBC News,” ‘Today, I am a better priest. . .The paradox is that today, I cannot exercise my being a priest.’ ” It is a tragedy that church leaders force talented LGBT ministers, clergy and lay alike, to remain closeted and fearful rather than being explosively powerful as the people God calls them to authentically and openly be.
It is time to see whether Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge?” will really be lived out in the church. The injustices against such people are wrong in and of themselves, but the cost to the church’s mission and care of God’s people are too great to bear any longer. It is time to be honest about gay priests and all LGBT ministers so they can return to doing God’s work.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

12 replies
  1. Diane McKinley
    Diane McKinley says:

    What continues to bother me about Monsignor’s announcement is that he has a partner. I am happy for him that he is out, and sad that he is suspended, but I thought that priests took a vow of celibacy. Does his breaking that vow muddy this issue?

    • Loretta Fitzgerald
      Loretta Fitzgerald says:

      To your concern, two things: one, may I invite you to read my post written even before I saw yours; and two, may I offer a clarification of celibacy. Celibacy is a vow not to marry which assumes no sexual relationships because that belongs in marriage. However, as noted earlier, when priests have sexual relationships they are not technically breaking their vow of celibacy but rather fornicating, a sin that the church often chooses to ignore. (So when gay couples want their sexual relationship to be in a committed, faithful, monogamous context, the Church forbids them to marry thus forcing them to commit the sin of fornication.) An example, adultery is not a ground for an annulment unless the intention to be unfaithful was there at the time of marriage. I understand adultery is more often a symptom of a problem marriage, but nonetheless, the Church’s advice is to go and fix the marriage and presuming the adulterer would confess his/her sin. Another example is in the history of the Church looking the other way, so to speak, of the couples who come for marriage prep and are and will continue to cohabitate.(I know of only two priests who did address this living arrangement and advised abstinence until marriage. Due to the depth of the priest’s genuine and centered spirituality, the couples were eager to meet the challenge.) My point is that the sin of fornication is forgivable in the Church, but the natural orientation of homosexuality is condemned. Please note that I intentionally did not say the “sin of” because, as we know, it is not a sin to be gay. It’s a gift intended by God to show an incarnational side of God’s love whether or not they are in what the Church used to call a “particular” relationship. I have only to look at my son and some of my close gay friends to see God that way.

      I would also add that there are straight priests who have chaste relationships with women even though some would be suspicious of those close relationships. Therefore, as we try to focus on the person and not just the act regarding the gift and treasure of human sexuality, I choose to see this priest as a gay priest of integrity and courage who has a close personal friendship with another man. Good for him! Whether it involves sexual intercourse, I leave to them and God as we are apt to do when seeing a straight priest with a close relationship with a woman. And in the case of a straight priest who falls in love, he at least has the option of marriage in the future EVEN according to the Church.

      Going back to my initial post on this particular article regarding sexual relationships or encounters straight priests have with women, it galls me that no one in the hierarchy seems to go on record reaching out to the women who have been compromised and even assaulted by priests. Why isn’t this a discussed issue in the Church? Because generally speaking no one believes the women. And the Church hierarchy doesn’t seem too concerned even when a child is born.

      I hope the wording in my previous post did not offend you. Thank you.

  2. Loretta Fitzgerald
    Loretta Fitzgerald says:

    I would add to this impassioned story that anyone who would “defend” this Polish priest’s suspension on the grounds that he has a partner and not because he is gay is either ignoring or ignorant of the plethora of straight priests who have and have had sexual relationships with women while priests.

    • Loretta Fitzgerald
      Loretta Fitzgerald says:

      I apologize for the ambiguity of my above comment. I was trying to say that just because he has a partner should not distract from his coming out because there are many straight priests who have relationships with women either sexual or platonic. Thanks for your patience.

  3. ermadurk
    ermadurk says:

    Excellent article. Information here should move the understanding and appreciation of LGBT persons to a more acceptable place in the imaginations of people of good will.

  4. bjmonda
    bjmonda says:

    Now, Father Krzysztof Charamsa ,perhaps you should be a priest. I am sure you will have no trouble finding a following. I think it is about time! DO IT as we are all priests. We need variety in nature to be honored and so to we need variety in serving the searching humanity.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] limited to Ireland, however, and affects the global church. Some priests, like Fr. Warren Hall and Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa have been sanctioned because of LGBT issues. Too often conversations are problematically […]

  2. […] Charamsa has lectured and written widely, including an appeal to Pope Francis to end the “immeasurable suffering” the Catholic Church inflicts on LGBT people. He has said, “Today, I am a better […]

  3. […] fired from his job at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now suspended as a priest by his home diocese in Poland, Charamsa was clear in a Religion News Service interview […]

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