ROME — A former Vatican official, who was stripped of his post early this month after acknowledging publicly that he was gay and in a relationship, has renewed his criticism of the Roman Catholic Church, accusing it of homophobia.
The official, the Rev. Krzysztof Charamsa, made public an Oct. 3 letter he had sent to Pope Francis in which he denounced the Church, saying that it had made the lives of gay and transgender people “a hell.” He wrote that the Church had persecuted gay Catholics and had caused them and their families “immeasurable suffering.”
“Be merciful — at least leave us in peace, let the civil states make our lives more humane,” Charamsa wrote in the letter, which he released Wednesday. (Note: The full text of the letter is below.)
The Vatican declined to comment.
Charamsa, 43, a former official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has made such assertions before. Earlier this month, on the eve of the synod, the Church’s assembly of bishops from around the world, he announced in the Italian and Polish news media, and then at a news conference in a restaurant in central Rome, that he was gay and had a partner.
He spoke of the “often paranoid homophobia” in the Church and contended that many Church officials were gay.
Within hours, the Vatican issued a terse statement calling “irresponsible” his decision to come out just before the synod. The Vatican also immediately dismissed Charamsa from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical universities where he had taught theology.
His diocese in Poland then suspended him indefinitely from his functions as a priest, urging him to return to the “true teaching of the Church and Christ’s priesthood,” a reference to Roman Catholic priests’ vow of celibacy.
In the final document produced by the bishops at the synod, which was presented to Francis for his consideration, the bishops reiterated the Church’s position that gays should be respected, avoiding “any mark of unjust discrimination.” But the bishops reiterated that same-sex marriage was not acceptable and had no “remote” founding in God’s plan on marriage and the family.
Charamsa, who is working on a book about his years at the Vatican, said Wednesday that the synod had taken a step backward on gay and transgender issues.
“The homophobic closure of the synod on gays resuscitated my passion for this battle to bring the Church into the modern era,” he said in an interview on Skype from Barcelona, Spain, where he lives with his partner. “That’s why I made my letter to the Holy Father public, in the hope he can go beyond the synod on the issue.”
While criticizing the synod’s final document for repeating stereotypes on homosexuality, Charamsa singled out the words of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, who had told the bishops, “What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today.”
“That’s why I renew my appeal to the Holy Father,” Charamsa said in the interview. “No one publicly said a word against those defamatory sentences. What kind of respect does that show to us all?”
Charamsa said that the Church should provide marriage equality for all Catholics and revise its teaching on homosexuality. “If the Church can’t make a serious, scientific reflection on homosexuality and include it in its teachings,” he said, “even the Holy Father’s openings and warm words on gays are empty.”
Francis appears to have a more open-minded approach on homosexuality than his predecessors. He famously said he did not judge people based on their sexual orientation, and during his recent trip to the United States, he met privately with a former student who is gay and was accompanied by his partner.
Unlike Charamsa, some gay activists say they view the synod’s results more hopefully, citing what they see as positive aspects of the final document.
“Bishops write that families with members with homosexual tendencies need a particular care, and that, in the Church language, opens to consider same-sex families, as their members are homosexuals or lesbians,” said Andrea Rubera, a spokesman in Rome for the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, an international network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholic associations.
“We need to work with, and not against, the Church,” he added.
But Charamsa rejected any compromise, saying that by ignoring gays, lesbians, and transgender people, the Church is asking the faithful to believe that the Earth is still flat.
Asked whether he would like to marry his partner, Charamsa said, “I see no difficulty in a priest to be married, and that’s regardless of their sexual orientation.”
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The following is the full text of a letter addressed to Pope Francis on Oct. 3 by Polish Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, a former Vatican official who publicly revealed that he’s gay and in a long-term relationship on the eve of a Synod of Bishops in Rome in which discussion of how the Church relates to gays and lesbians was expected to be a major topic of conversation. Crux translated the letter from Italian.
Holy Father, Dear Francis,
I have always loved the Church of Christ.
Today, as a baptized person, as a priest and a theologian who’s wanted to serve the Church with my entire life, I turn to you, my superior and pastor of this Church.
After a long and painful period of inner discernment and prayer, before God and with full consciousness of the gravity of the moment, I’ve made the decision to publicly refuse the violence of the Church with regard to people who are homosexual, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual and intersexual.
Being myself a man with a homosexual orientation, I can’t continue any more to tolerate the homophobic hatred of the Church – the exclusion, marginalization and stigmatization of people who, like me, are continually offended in their dignity and human rights, rights which are denied and struck down by this violent Church and its individual faithful.
Today I stand on the side of courageous homosexual people, who for centuries have been humiliated by the fanatical Church. I no longer accept a salvation that gratuitously excludes a part of humanity. We homosexuals don’t need the compassion that the Church promises us. We’re neither the enemies of the Church or of the family, which is the false and offensive image that Church has succeeding in creating about us. We desperately seek only to be respected in our dignity and our rights. If the Church is so obtuse, so incapable of reflection, so behind the times in terms of the conscience of humanity, as Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini put it so well, if it can’t come up with an adequate welcome for this innocent people, it should at least stop pressuring states and nations that want to respect the human right of homosexual people to a civil marriage.
[Note: Martini, a former Archbishop of Milan frequently mentioned during his lifetime as a papal candidate, died in 2012. In his final interview, Martini said he believed the Catholic Church was “200 years behind the times”.]
Let the Church focus on its own religious marriage and make its heterosexuals happy, who right now don’t seem all that happy behind the prison walls of the cold doctrinal rigidity of the Church! But stop spreading hate against those who want to live their own love in peace on this earth! A Church incapable of dialogue with humanity should be quiet, if it’s not capable of using reason!
I thank you for some of your words and gestures as pontiff with regard to some homosexual people. But your words will have value only and exclusively when all the violent and offensive declarations of the Holy Office about homosexual people are cancelled, as well as the obscene instruction of Benedict XVI that prohibits admission to the priesthood for homosexual people. In the meantime, the clergy, which is full of homosexuals and at the same violently homophobic, should be consistent with this diabolical instruction: All the gay cardinals, the gay bishops and gay priests – including fantastic gay priests, as they are – should have the courage to abandon a Church that’s inhuman, insensitive, unjust and violent.
[Note: The “Holy Office” is a reference to the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal watchdog agency, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The instruction under Pope Benedict XVI to which Charamsa refers appeared in 2005 and was issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education, which is responsible for supervising seminaries.]
I stand with homosexual people to be at their service and to help them wake up this dormant Church, which is Pharisaical and hypocritical, locked into its cold and inhuman doctrine without mercy or charity, a homophobic Church that knows only how to hate the other because he or she isn’t heterosexual. It knows how to persecute and destroy the loves of thousands of gays who are spiritual people, open to the transcendent and sensitive to the divine. They’re treated as excluded lepers by the Church, as if human beings choose their own sexual orientation, heterosexual or homosexual.
I stand with this people that’s oppressed and persecuted by the Church. I stand with that people as a Polish priest representing a particularly hateful Church, which is presently led by pastors without hearts or brains, for whom one can only ask forgiveness and show the proper compassion. Some of them are with you in the synod, with their language of hate lacking any human sensitivity, interested only in how to pressure democratic governments and get them to submit, how to steal more and more from the common good, and how to deny fundamental rights to free people.
I’ve lived a long period of discernment and inner struggle in order to reach the full awareness that I will no longer accept this hatred of exclusion: If the salvation the Church has to offer does not respect the nature of homosexual people, I refuse that salvation. I refuse it in the name of God, who created us and loves us as we are.
I reflected a long time about this decision, in part because I know how violent the Church is toward anyone who leaves it. I’m afraid of how violent the Church could be towards my family, which has no responsibility at all for my decision. I’m especially worried for my mother, a woman of unbreakable faith, who’s not to blame for my decisions. I know the risks she runs in this violent and uncaring Church, to which she’s unreservedly dedicated her entire life. Catholics can be people without hearts, without mercy, without any human feeling, following the logic of collective responsibility for individual decisions and destroying the lives of the innocent. In Poland, Catholics are true maestros of hatred, of stigmatization and exclusion of others, of homophobia. My mother does not deserve any offense from this inhuman Polish church!
“I want mercy from you, not sacrifices!” [Note: This is a quote from the Old Testament, Hosea 6:6]. God does not want human nature to be sacrificed. God respects the mystery of created human nature, yet the Church hates everything about human nature that’s different from its project of power and dominion over people and their sexuality. The church serves only the heterosexual part of humanity, and does not want to reflect calmly and rationally on the nature of homosexual people.
Holy Father, the challenge facing the Synod of Bishops, the major part of which is intellectually dormant and has never experienced the smell of the sheep, is not only the faithful who are divorced and remarried, but also those of us who are sexual minorities who have the right to live our love in dignity, a love which the Church is stubbornly killing. [Pope Francis has said he wants pastors who “carry the smell of their sheep,” meaning who are close to ordinary people.] We have the right to a family life, even if the Church doesn’t want to bless it. We exist and will continue to exist, even if the Church reduces us and keeps reducing us to nothing, as it still does with faithful who are divorced and happily remarried.
In order not to upset your happy journey of heterosexual salvation, which is different from us, many of those of us who are sexual minorities have already withdrawn from your Church. Absolutely do not pity us! Have pity only on yourselves, the hypocrites and Pharisees over whom you’re presiding in the synod. But please, have mercy! Have just a touch of mercy! Have mercy: At least leave us in peace, allowing civil states to make our life more human, while you with your Church have succeeded in making our lives as homosexuals and lesbians nothing but a Hell.
Your Church should only apologize and then keep quiet forever! Or, it should convert during its path in the synod and start to think about that part of the Church and of humanity made up of homosexual believers, whom you denigrate, offend and stigmatize, humiliating and excluding them as if they were lepers.
I pray for you, knowing that you’re a man of God, but I will do everything I can to help homosexual people wake the Catholic Church from its inhuman sleep, which by now has reached bestial limits of intolerability.
Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa
Adjunct Secretary of the International Theological Commission
Official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome
Rome, 3 October A.D., 2015