The Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam in the Netherlands has asked a gay priest to lay down his priestly duties “for the time being, and enter into a period of reflection.”
In his new book and in several interviews Father Pierre Valkering has talked openly and in detail about his homosexuality. The Dutch priest, who works in a parish in Amsterdam, spoke about his sexual relationships and also said he visits gay saunas and dark rooms, and likes to watch porn.
In a statement to De Gaykrant, a Dutch newspaper for the gay community, Bishop Jos Punt said that while he appreciates Valkering’s honesty and understands his struggle, he nevertheless asked him to lay down his priestly duties because the priest refuses to abide by his vow of celibacy.
“This is incompatible with a worthy exercise of the priesthood.”
A statement from the diocese said the bishop received Valkering’s book “in good order.”
“It did surprise him as he wasn’t aware of its publication. Based on previous publications the bishop asked Father Valkering several times how he lives out his vow of celibacy. He always replied that he handles this in a responsible manner. He now unmistakably said in public that he has not kept his celibacy vow, and cannot and will not keep it,” the statement continued.
“Moreover, he also allows for other sexual liberties. For the Roman Catholic Church, this is incompatible with a worthy exercise of the priesthood. The Church understand ds human weakness and everyone’s personal struggle to grow in holiness, but Father Valkering now declares that he doesn’t even want to try and live an ordered celibate life. The bishop appreciates the fact that in his book he honestly talks about his opinions and his way of life, but he cannot help but ask him at this moment to lay down his priestly duties for the time being, and enter into a period of reflection. The details of this will be discussed with him,” the statement concludes.
The Dutch priest has been fighting for years for greater tolerance towards homosexuality within the Church. In 2016 he wanted to join in on one of the boats on the Canal Parade float during Amsterdam Gay Pride. The diocese, however, did not give him permission to do so.
Recently Valkering published an autobiographical book about finding his way as a homosexual priest in the Catholic Church. It was presented last Sunday during a Mass in honor of his 25th anniversary as a priest.
This article was originally published in the Dutch Catholic weekly Katholiek Nieuwsblad on Apr. 2 2019. It was translated for Crux by Susanne Kurstjens-van den Berk.