Last year, 55-year-old Father Pierre Valkering published an autobiographical book in honor of his 25th anniversary as a priest. In the book he talks openly and in detail about his homosexuality, his sexual relationships and also says he visits gay saunas and “dark rooms,” and likes to watch porn.
As a result now-retired Bishop Jos Punt of Haarlem-Amsterdam, asked Valkering to lay down his priestly duties and enter into a period of reflection. According to the diocese, Valkering refused to do so and was therefore removed from his parish in Amsterdam.
Valkering decided to lodge an appeal to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy. The priest also appealed directly to Pope Francis. Both have now ruled that Punt’s decision to remove Valkering was valid.
On June 1 Punt was succeeded by Bishop Jan Hendriks.
Hendriks expressed his respect for Valkering as a person and as a priest. According to the diocese, the bishop also said it’s very important to him to find a satisfactory solution for Valkering, so that he might return to work in another parish after a period of reflection and guidance.
The diocese has been in in talks with Valkering since last year in the hopes of finding a solution. Hendriks in the meantime paid a visit to Valkering’s former parish church on Sunday to talk to parishioners and exchange ideas.
On his personal blog, the bishop wrote: “Among the parishioners there exist very different views on what has happened. But I noticed that, despite the pain which was caused, everyone speaks with the greatest respect. It all goes to show what a beautiful community this parish is.”
This article was translated for Crux by Susanne Kurstjens-van den Berk