SÃO PAULO, Brazil – A priest was suspended from his duties in the city of Assis, in Brazil, after blessing a homosexual union early in December.
Father Vicente Paula Gomes took part at the celebration that happened on December 7 and blessed the union of two men. On Dec. 11, the Diocese of Assis issued a precautionary measure decree against him.
“Considering the serious allegations against Father Vicente Paula Gomes, who has celebrated a homosexual union […], an act performed at a party hall in the city of Assis, […] I decree the suspension of order ad cautelam,” read the document signed by Bishop Argemiro de Azevedo and by the diocesan chancellor, Father David José Martins.
The document states that after the stage of initial investigations and of the penal suit, the precautionary measure will lose its validity. The statement was released on Dec. 12 and went into force the same day.
A video clip published by the local news website AssisCity shows parts of Gomes’s speech during the ceremony: “We think that [at] home a man and a woman are enough. [But] family is not only that. To nucleate a family means to create conditions for a dignified life. That’s why I’m happy to be here,” the priest said.
Gomes then humorously admitted he was “trembling a bit” given that it was the first time he would give such a blessing.
“I’m already thinking about what Bishop Argemiro is going to say on Monday. But as I initially said, this blessing doesn’t diminish me, nor does it diminish the Church, nor [does it diminish] you,” he said.
After the men exchanged vows, Gomes said: “You have declared your love and you had the courage to make it public among your friends and before the Holy Church. Of course I cannot give you this sacrament, but I shed a blessing over you, so you’ll have a duty as companions till the end of your lives. And don’t forget that God blesses your love now and forever.”
The video shows that the priest then allowed the men to kiss, but playfully turned his back on them as they did it. As he turned back to them, he covered his eyes while they still kissed.
The images of the event show Gomes didn’t wear liturgical vestments during the ceremony and that no ecclesiastical objects were used.
Gomes could not be contacted to comment on his suspension. One of the men also declined to comment on the event, saying that “it’s in the past now” and that he doesn’t want “to go back to that subject, so it won’t have further repercussions.”
On Gomes’s Facebook page, it’s possible to see dozens of people using a thumbnail frame that says “#WeAreallFatherVicente.” A picture with the same message has been shared hundreds of times. One of the organizers of the campaign declined to comment on the priest’s suspension.
Gomes was scheduled to be the new vicar of the parish of Our Lady Aparecida in Assis at the beginning of January. Until then, he was a pastor in the nearby city of Tarumã, in charge of the parish of Santo André. He’s 56 years old and was ordained in 1992. According to a profile published by the website AssisCity, Gomes also hosts a radio show on a local station, Rádio Difusora.
In 2014, a priest in Bauru, 110 miles east of Assis, was excommunicated by the Church after posting several videos on social media advocating same-sex marriage and other controversial subjects. Father Roberto Francisco Daniel refused to retract his remarks and ended up being censured by the Vatican.
The following year, the priest, who had a large following on the internet, started to celebrate unauthorized “alternative masses” in the city. According to a story published by the news portal G1, Daniel eventually founded another church and since then has celebrated a few same-sex weddings in different parts of the country.
Daniel has launched a campaign on social media to demand a response from the Vatican about the reasons for his excommunication. Until now, he says he hasn’t received an answer.
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