The Vatican fired a Polish priest employed at the Holy See on Saturday after the man admitted to Italian and Polish newspapers he was gay and in a relationship. "I have to say who I am. I am a gay priest. I am a happy and proud gay priest," he told the Polish paper Gazeta Wyborcza.
Krzysztof Charamsa, 43, made the announcement one day before bishops from around the world were scheduled to converge on the Vatican to discuss outreach to gays, divorcees and traditional Catholic families.
It was the timing that Church officials say they took issue with. "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," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
The 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family begins tomorrow in Vatican City. The Vatican, for its part, said the dismissal was not related to Charasma's statements about his personal life, which it said "merit respect."
The decision to dismiss Charamsa from his post at the Vatican's doctrine office comes at a particularly fraught moment for the Church. In recent days, Lombardi has been been forced to address reports that Pope Francis held a closed door meeting with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis on his trip to the United States.
Lawyers for Davis, who famously went to jail for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, claimed that the Pope endorsed Davis's position. Lombardi admitted the pontiff met briefly with Davis, but said he "did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects."
"The only real audience granted by the pope at the nunciature was with one of his former students and his family," Lombardi added. That man, multiple news outlets would later report, is an openly gay Argentine caterer named Yayo Grassi.
At a press conference in Rome on Saturday, Charasma, joined by his partner Eduard, told reporters he made the disclosure "for the good of the Church." He said he hoped the announcement would apply "good Christian pressure" on the bishops attending the synod, reminding them not to forget homosexual believers.
"I came out. This is a very personal, difficult and tough decision in the Catholic church's homophobic world," Charasma said.
Charamsa, who in addition to his job at the Vatican lost his teaching positions at pontifical universities in Rome, remains a priest, but Church officials have not yet ruled out taking additional steps to reprimand him.
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