When journalist and videographer Eric Kruszewski first learned about LEAD, an LGBT church outreach program started at St. Matthew Catholic church, he knew he needed to see its work in action — and capture the stories of the people involved.
His curiosity took him to Baltimore, MD, where St. Matthew is located and where he met Father Joe Muth, Jr., the church’s pastor, who is passionate about welcoming members of the LGBTQ community and their allies back into the faith. Kruszewski’s resulting video series tells stories that range from a lesbian former nun’s decision to leave the Church to a mother of gay and straight children learning how to be an ally.
“I don’t think the institutional church realizes how hurtful they are to homosexual people,” Muth says in the video above, one episode in the series.
LEAD, which stands for LGBT Educating and Affirming Diversity, meets every month. During meetings, people are welcome to introduce themselves to the group and speak about their faith, their sexuality, and how those two parts of their identities interact. It was during these meetings that Kruszewski was able to see just how devoted the members were to Catholicism, in spite of the hostile treatment they’d received before coming to St. Matthew.
“I was astonished at how people could have such unwavering, strong faith, even though they’re looking at a church that doesn’t fully accept them,” Kruszewski told Refinery29.
He said that this may stem from the fact that most LEAD members grew up with the Church and are, in fact, all baptized Catholics.
“When you’ve spent decades believing in something and living its teachings, it’s really hard for somebody to say, ‘Now that you’ve found your sexuality, you can’t believe anymore,'” Kruszewski said.
Fortunately, LEAD and Muth have become major sources of security and positivity for everyone who joins St. Matthew, regardless of their sexual identities. It’s a rare safe space for LGBTQ Catholics who seek to maintain — and nurture — these two seemingly disparate parts of their identities.
Check out the video above to learn the stories behind LEAD and some of its members, and watch the rest of Kruszewski’s series here.
Former president Mary McAleese has said that seminaries in Ireland should be “gay friendly”.
This week it emerged that a closer eye will be kept on how Maynooth’s seminarians spend their time from now on as part of a stricter regime being introduced in the wake of the gay dating app scandal.
The Irish Independent reported that all trainee priests will now be required to eat their evening meal in the college rather than being allowed to dine wherever they choose. They will also be required to attend evening rosary at 9pm, which hasn’t been obligatory until now.
The seminary council will now eat both breakfast and dinner with the seminarians in the historic Pugin Hall rather than in the Professors’ Refectory.
But Dr McAleese, a staunch Catholic who campaigned fearlessly for a yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, told the Daniel O’Connell Summer School in Kerry yesterday that the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality was worryingly dangerous, according to the Irish Times.
“We have the phenomenon of men in the priesthood who are both heterosexual and homosexual but the church hasn’t been able to come to terms with the fact that there are going to be homosexuals in the priesthood, homosexuals who are fine priests,” Mary McAleese said.
“They haven’t been able to come to terms with that because the teaching of my church, the Catholic Church, tells them that homosexuality is, of its nature, intrinsically disordered – those are the words of Pope Benedict and that homosexual acts are, in his words, evil,” she added.
“I am just worried that the Maynooth controversy seems to be concentrating on the wrong things. A seminary should be a place where people feel welcomed, not somewhere where they feel welcomed, not somewhere where they feel policed – after all, there are young people who haven’t yet taken a vow of celibacy.”
In 2012, Pope Benedict sent two archbishops to Maynooth to investigate whether it was “gay friendly”.
“They wanted to be reassured that neither place was, in their words, ‘gay friendly’… so they walked away happy that they were gay unfriendly, hostile to gay people – what sort of message does that send out to young men who are there who are gay, to priests who are gay?” Dr McAleese said.
The tighter controls being implemented in the seminay are part of a suite of measures announced on Wednesday by the trustees of Maynooth which included a review of “appropriate use of the internet and social media” by the 50 or so trainee priests and their staff.
Earlier this month, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin withdrew his seminarians from Maynooth following allegations that students were using gay dating app Grindr.
Earlier this year, a small group of self-identified homophobic men were given the chance of a lifetime. They were presented with the rare opportunity to prove — despite the pervasive theory that homophobia is an expression of repressed homosexuality — that they themselves are actually straight.
Researchers at the University of Geneva tested 38 heterosexual male subjects by having them first rate their levels of “homonegativity” to determine how antigay each of them were. Then the men participated in a sneaky little series of photo experiments designed “to evaluate their impulsive approach tendencies toward homosexual stimuli.”
The first experiment involved showing the (again: straight male) subjects a series of images of straight or gay couples in the center of a computer screen, and then repeatedly moving a small human figure toward or away from the central image several times. The second test required the men to rate images of gay or straight couples while equipment monitored how long their gaze lingered on each picture.
Altogether, the tests revealed that “men with a high homonegativity score looked significantly longer at homosexual than at heterosexual photographs,” while the non-homophobic men skipped by them more casually, at a “neutral” pace.
“For some homophobic men, there is a conflict between their reflective and their impulsive system,” lead researcher Boris Cheval said in an email. “They declare themselves as anti-gay, but [at] the same time they have an impulsive attraction toward same sex stimuli.”
“They declare themselves as anti-gay, but [at] the same time they have an impulsive attraction toward same -sex stimuli.”
Cheval previously told PsyPost that these results alone don’t exactly prove the men’s homophobic views are because of their own repressed homosexual desires. But he did point to a hidden gem of a study from 1996 for further reading.
In the 1996 study, researchers exposed 35 self-identified homophobes and 29 non-homophobes to gay, straight and lesbian porn. The men’s dicks were then literally monitored throughout the viewing process for each, which is just savage and amazing.
“Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli,” that study concluded. “Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.”
Considering this year’s Republican party platform — what some say is the most anti-LGBTQ platform in the GOP’s history — it can be easy to forget that Christianity and being LGBTQ or supporting gay rights aren’t mutually exclusive.
A pamphlet from an LGBTQ pride parade, shared Monday on Imgur and widely circulated online, brilliantly uses quotes from the Bible to explain why Christian faith and LGBT pride need not contradict.
The pamphlet addresses LGBTQ Christians’ worries that God might disapprove of them, and responds to common homophobic interpretations of Bible stories.
It also tackles experiences LGBTQ people might have being kicked out of religious institutions, and the way religious people can use the AIDS crisis to stigmatize homosexuality.
The pamphlet sends a message that LGBTQ can still have honest relationships with God, and supplies powerful responses — straight from the Bible — to give anyone who tells them otherwise.
Many readers — including trans and gay Christians — expressed their appreciation of the post in comments
Others claimed that the importance of tolerance was central to — but often omitted from — churches’ messages.
Some asserted that they still believed the Bible to be overwhelmingly anti-LGBTQ, or took issue with using scripture to justify anything.
A few commenters focused on the specific biblical text included in the images, but other responses proved that it struck a nerve even with readers who were not gay or were not Christian.
You can read and share the full pamphlet on Imgur.
Former Pope Benedict says in his memoirs that no-one pressured him to resign but alleges that a “gay lobby” in the Vatican had tried to influence decisions, a leading Italian newspaper reported on Friday.
The book, called “The Last Conversations”, is the first time in history that a former pope judges his own pontificate after it is over. It is due to be published on Sept. 9.
Citing health reasons, Benedict in 2013 became the first pope in six centuries to resign. He promised to remain “hidden to the world” and has been living in a former convent in the Vatican gardens.
Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily, which has acquired the Italian newspaper rights for excerpts and has access to the book, ran a long article on Friday summarizing its key points.
In the book, Benedict says that he came to know of the presence of a “gay lobby” made up of four or five people who were seeking to influence Vatican decisions. The article says Benedict says he managed to “break up this power group”.
Benedict resigned following a turbulent papacy that included the so-call “Vatileaks” case, in which his butler leaked some of his personal letters and other documents that alleged corruption and a power struggle in the Vatican.
Italian media at the time reported that a faction of prelates who wanted to discredit Benedict and pressure him to resign was behind the leaks.
The Church has maintained its centuries-long opposition to homosexual acts.
But rights campaigners have long said many gay people work for the Vatican and Church sources have said they suspect that some have banded together to support each other’s careers and influence decisions in the bureaucracy.
Benedict, who now has the title “emeritus pope,” has always maintained that he made his choice to leave freely and Corriere says that in the book Benedict “again denies blackmail or pressure”.
He says he told only a few people close to him of his intention to resign, fearing it would be leaked before he made the surprise announcement on Feb. 11, 2013.
The former pope, in the book-long interview with German writer Peter Seewald, says he had to overcome his own doubts on the effect his choice could have on the future of the papacy.
He says that he was “incredulous” when cardinals meeting in a secret conclave chose him to succeed the late Pope John Paul II in 2005 and that he was “surprised” when the cardinals chose Francis as his successor in 2013.
Anger over the dysfunctional state of the Vatican bureaucracy in 2013 was one factor in the cardinal electors’ decision to choose a non-European pope for the first time in nearly 1,300 years.
Benedict “admits his lack of resoluteness in governing,” Corriere says.
In the book, whose lead publisher is Germany’s Droemer Knaur, Benedict says he kept a diary throughout his papacy but will destroy it, even though he realizes that for historians it would be a “golden opportunity”.
Computer model sheds light on how male homosexuality remains present in populations throughout the ages
Around half of all heterosexual men and women potentially carry so-called homosexuality genes that are passed on from one generation to the next. This has helped homosexuality to be present among humans throughout history and in all cultures, even though homosexual men normally do not have many descendants who can directly inherit their genes. This idea is reported by Giorgi Chaladze of the Ilia State University in Georgia, and published in Springer’s journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. Chaladze used a computational model that, among others, includes aspects of heredity and the tendency of homosexual men to come from larger families.
According to previous research, sexual orientation is influenced to a degree by genetic factors and is therefore heritable. Chaladze says this poses a problem from an evolutionary perspective, because homosexual men tend not to have many offspring to whom they can provide their genetic material. In fact, they have on average five times fewer children than their heterosexual counterparts.
Chaladze used an individual-based genetic model to explain the stable, yet persistent, occurrence of homosexuality within larger populations. He took into account findings from recent studies that show that homosexual men tend to come from larger families. These suggest that the genes responsible for homosexuality in men increase fecundity (the actual number of children someone has) among their female family members, who also carry the genes. Other reports also suggest that many heterosexual men are carriers of the genes that could predispose someone to homosexuality.
Based on Chaladze’s calculations, male homosexuality is maintained in a population at low and stable frequencies if half of the men and roughly more than half of the women carry genes that predispose men to homosexuality.
“The trend of female family members of homosexual men to have more offspring can help explain the persistence of homosexuality, if we also consider that those males who have such genes are not always homosexuals,” says Chaladze.
The possibility that many heterosexual men are carriers can also explain why estimates of the number of men who have reported any same-sex sexual behavior and same-sex sexual attraction are much higher than estimates of those who self-identify as homosexual or bisexual. According to Chaladze, non-homosexual male carriers might sometimes manifest interest in homosexual behavior without having a homosexual identity.
The possibility that a large percentage of heterosexual people are carriers of genetic material predisposing to homosexuality has implications for genomic studies. Researchers should therefore consider including participants who do not have homosexual relatives in such studies.
If you’ve ever felt unwelcome at Church because of your gender, race, or sexual orientation, a Massachusetts bishop has a message for you: I’m sorry.
Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield used the occasion of Ash Wednesday to mark Pope Francis’ Jubilee of Mercy by apologizing to and seeking reconciliation with Catholics in Western Massachusetts.
Rozanski, sent from Baltimore to lead the 217,000-member diocese in 2014, said that ongoing fallout from the clergy sexual abuse scandal, shuttered and merged churches, and less than welcoming parishes have caused a rupture between the Church and some of the faithful.
He says he is seeking forgiveness.
“There are many people hurting in our Catholic community from the pain caused by our past failings as a diocese, as well as the grievous actions of some who ministered in our church,” he wrote in a pastoral letter on evangelization. “The reality of this pain is that it still echoes many years later, as was given witness in our recent diocesan survey.”
Through that survey, completed by 3,000 local Catholics, Rozanski said he learned that some Catholics don’t feel welcome in churches and thus stop participating in the faith.
“Still there are others who have distanced themselves because they feel unwelcomed. The reasons here can vary, but key among them are race and cultural differences, a sense of gender inequality as well as sexual orientation,” he wrote. “Others have been treated unkindly, impatiently, or rudely by clergy, religious, ministers, and staff of parishes — all which is unacceptable.”
I ask your forgiveness,” he continued.
He said parishes “must be inviting and energetic environments, founded both in our traditions but also the reality of everyday life,” and urged local Catholics to “to evangelize those who were once, but are no longer with us.”
“We need you, we need your presence, your gifts and your talents. We need you to complete our community, to enrich it, to make it better and more effective,” he wrote.
He quoted one of the people who took part in the diocesan survey, who wrote, “The gay community feels that they aren’t welcome. They don’t want to espouse another religion; therefore, they don’t attend church at all. Hopefully, a special outreach could be done to them.”
Rozanski said that revitalizing the diocese through evangelization would be a “daunting task,” but urged Catholics “to walk beyond our parish boundaries, without fear, to demonstrate the faith we celebrate in liturgy takes form in the reality of the world around us.”
Rozanski opened the letter by asking several questions about love and forgiveness, urging Catholics to look the Pope Francis as an example of how to love like God, who “looks beyond our faults and failings and loves us just as we are.”
Pope Francis launched the Jubilee of Mercy in December, opening a special holy year during which Catholics are encouraged to go to confession and walk through designated holy doors in order to have their sins forgiven. The pope has made mercy and forgiveness the hallmarks of his papacy.
“Do you believe in a God who loves you?” Rozanski asked. “Do you believe in a God who forgives? Are you able to offer forgiveness to those who have hurt you? Are you able to ask forgiveness from them?”
For first time, majority of Republicans (54%) say they are satisfied
Sixty-seven percent of Democrats are satisfied
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new high of 60% of Americans say they are satisfied with the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the U.S. — up from 53% in 2014 and 2015. As recently as 10 years ago, satisfaction was as low as 32%.
The latest data, from Gallup’s annual Mood of the Nation survey conducted Jan. 6-10, come after a landmark year in achievements for the gay rights movement. Most notably, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated state laws that banned same-sex marriage. Prior to the court’s decision last year, 60% of Americans supported gay marriages.
Gallup first polled on Americans’ satisfaction with acceptance of gays and lesbians in 2001, when about a third reported being satisfied. Over the next eight years, this figure hovered between 32% and 40%. The level of satisfaction climbed in each poll between 2006 and 2014 amid a state-by-state battle for marriage rights. During this time, the federal government also repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the Supreme Court struck down much of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Gallup asks Americans who say they are dissatisfied with the acceptance of gays and lesbians if that dissatisfaction stems from their desire to see more acceptance or less acceptance. Similar percentages currently choose each explanation. Both of these figures have declined over the years as overall satisfaction has climbed, with a much greater decline in the percentage who are dissatisfied and want less acceptance.
Majorities of All Party Groups Satisfied With Gay Acceptance in U.S.
The latest poll marks the first time that majorities of Americans from within the three major political identifications report being satisfied with acceptance of gays and lesbians in the U.S. Democrats remain the most satisfied (67%), as they have been since 2012. Meanwhile, 59% of independents and 54% of Republicans report being satisfied on the issue.
Over the past 15 years, Democrats were least satisfied — ranging between 27% and 38% in satisfaction — during the administration of President George W. Bush, a Republican president who called for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage as he campaigned for re-election in 2004. But as Democratic President Barack Obama completed his first term in office in 2012, Democrats’ satisfaction climbed to 48% and has gained 19 percentage points in the years since.
Satisfaction among the GOP has been a lot tamer, ranging from 32% to 41% from 2001 to 2013. Though Republicans were generally more satisfied than Democrats during the Bush presidency and the least satisfied group during the Obama presidency, the percentage of those who report being satisfied has climbed quite a bit over Obama’s second term.
The past decade has seen significant progress for the gay rights movement in the U.S., and along with that, a greater acceptance of gays and lesbians in the country more generally. Now a new high of 60% of Americans are satisfied with the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the U.S., nearly doubling the 32% from 10 years ago.
But despite being in the minority, there are many Americans who are unhappy with the advancements made in gay rights, and there are judges, religious figures and GOP presidential candidates who seek to undo what gay rights supporters have achieved. Meanwhile, another faction of Americans are dissatisfied because they seek more acceptance for gays and lesbians — perhaps in response to continued efforts to walk back newly achieved gay rights, hate crimes against LGBT people and other acts of intolerance directed at the community.
Still, a stronger majority than ever before is content with the current state of gay acceptance in the U.S. Given the generational differences Gallup has found among supporters of gay rights, it is likely that satisfaction will continue to grow as younger generations supplant older ones.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 6-10, 2016, with a random sample of 1,012 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
In Eric Kruszewski’s final video on the LEAD Ministry, a LGBT-friendly group within Saint Matthew’s Catholic Church, we meet Father Joe, the man who is helping to change his congregation’s stance on homosexuality. “I don’t think the institutional church realizes how hurtful they are to homosexual people,” he says.
Four years ago, Father Joe helped launch LEAD, which has since grown in numbers and visibility—even participating in Baltimore’s pride parade.
Two days before a longtime Vatican official burst from his stained-glass closet last month, he was dining with an Italian media consultant inside an elegant restaurant on the right bank of Rome’s Tiber River. The topic of conversation: How should the official come out?
Krzysztof Charamsa was still employed at one of the Holy See’s most powerful offices, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But after decades of hiding, the 43-year-old gay Polish priest wanted to come out with a flourish. He was no longer afraid to confront a church he saw as intrinsically “homophobic” and proposed a symbolic news conference outside the headquarters of the Congregation — the very institution charged with defending and disseminating Catholic teachings around the globe.
But Emilio Sturla, a public relations consultant who worked closely with gay Catholic groups and was helping Charamsa, strongly suggested he reconsider, both men recalled. The public and the church, Sturla insisted, would see such a move as too incendiary.
“But that’s what he wanted,” Sturla said. “To be provocative.” And that’s what he did.
Their conversation suggests how even before it happened, Charamsa’s high-profile debut — including its timing right before a major Vatican meeting of the church hierarchy — was already controversial among the small group of gay Catholics aware of his plans.
Charamsa’s move brought the expected denunciations from the church and religious conservatives, who pointed out that he had violated his vow of chastity and the church’s teachings on homosexuality. More surprisingly, his actions have also sparked a split among gay Catholics.
The church officially teaches that homosexual desires are not sinful unless acted upon and calls on gays and lesbians to live lives of chastity. It teaches that gays are deserving of human dignity. But it also describes homosexual acts as a sin that is “intrinsically disordered” and a “grave depravity.”
As Pope Francis opens the door to more inclusion of gay people, Charamsa’s coming out — and the reactions to it — cuts to the heart of a debate raging among gay Catholics worldwide: Should they use gentle dialogue or open confrontation in pushing for change?
Many gay activists are cheering Charamsa’s action, heralding him as a Vatican whistleblower. In two days of extensive interviews with The Washington Post, for instance, Charamsa said the Vatican office where he worked routinely shut down priests and bishops calling for more acceptance of gay people. He describes an angry uproar in its halls on the day in 2013 when Francis, responding to a question about gay priests, famously declared, “Who am I to judge?”
Yet at a time when they can almost smell what they call the sweet scent of change, some gay Catholics counter that Charamsa’s “theatrical” coming out may have done more harm than good. It could, they say, embolden church hard-liners and have a chilling effect on the slowly thawing relations between gay people and the Catholic Church.
Charamsa is unbowed. The church, he said, has deployed “Nazi words” against gays, and the time has come to respond. Referring to the 1969 New York riots that became a milestone in the American gay rights movement, he said, “The church needs a Stonewall.”
From closet to stage
“Here I go,” Charamsa said with a grin, walking down the center aisle of the Morality Theater on a recent evening in Arenys de Munt, Spain — a small town 28 miles northeast of Barcelona. He is a tad nervous. Laughing a little too hard. His hands perspiring. It is his first major public appearance since his big splash on Oct. 3, and he wants it to be good.
Charamsa doesn’t get far before 72-year-old Jaume Torrent grabs his arm. Torrent’s bear cub of a husband, a 39-year-old bearded construction worker, is standing close, wearing a tight T-shirt and a smile of admiration as the two gush praise at Charamsa.
“You!” beams Torrent, a self-described gay Catholic. He’s one of a crowd of more than 100 — a good chunk of them gays and lesbians — who have turned out to hear Charamsa speak. “You brave man. You did not hide. We are so proud of you.”
Charamsa is living a sort of self-imposed exile now, in an apartment in Barcelona he shares with his Spanish boyfriend, Eduardo. He refuses to say when or where they met, though people familiar with the couple say it was at least a year ago. Yet Charamsa is not focused on telling his own story — he’s still guarded about his childhood, his partner, his gay life as a priest. Instead, he’s focusing on what he feels is the big issue: homophobia within the Catholic Church.
He grew up in the Baltic port city of Gdynia, the son of an economist father and a mother who was a devout Catholic. At a young age, he became an altar boy, and then, a priest, at a time when the priesthood in Poland was a convenient place for gay men to remain unmarried and yet still obtain a measure of social standing. In fact, some studies have suggested that homosexuality is more prevalent in the priesthood overall than in the general population. But Charamsa describes his calling from God as genuine.
When Charamsa was young, the church’s teachings on homosexuality — something it calls an “intrinsic moral evil” — led him to personal torment and self-hate, he said. Today, he blames the church’s grip on largely Catholic Poland for a powerful strain of homophobia that still lingers there.
“It was the horrible problem of my life,” he said. “It was like hell. I prayed for years for God to take away this illness.”
His thinking had not changed, he said, when he began working at the Vatican in 2003, laboring in a mid-level administrative post and analyzing doctrinal papers. There are regular, if unofficial, social meetings of gay priests in Italy, including those from the Vatican, according to one gay priest who has attended them. But Charamsa says he was never part of that crowd.
Instead, he said, until meeting Eduardo, he led a highly closeted life that allowed him to observe homophobia close up at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — once known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition.
Inside its halls, Charamsa said, the issue of homosexuality “is only spoken about in jokes.” He compares it to the macho climate of, say, a sports team. Modern textbooks on human sexuality are rarely, if ever, studied. He said he saw careers destroyed after clerics appeared to get soft on gays. Suspicion of being gay, meanwhile, was reason enough to bar the promotions of priests to higher ranks.
Any move toward a more accepting stance, he said, was routinely stamped out. He recalls, for instance, an “internal persecution” of Bishop Piero Marini in 2013 after the Vatican official openly called for recognition of the moral value of same-sex unions. The Congregation, Charamsa said, insisted the bishop clarify true church teachings.
On the day in July 2013 when Pope Francis responded “Who am I to judge?” after being asked a question about gay priests, Charamsa said, there was an uproar within the Congregation. Its conservative prefect, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, had “only bad things” to say about the pope in response, Charamsa said.
The Vatican declined to comment on any of Charamsa’s allegations.
Today, he calls his highly public coming out a form of “protest,” one that came together recently after he accepted himself and came to feel that the church, not his sexual orientation, was the problem. He is now on a one-man mission to challenge its teachings — something he is doing in regular media interviews, a book he is penning, even a blunt letter to the pope in which he derided the church for its “diabolical instruction.” It is a series of decisions that have come with a high price.
In fact, by Oct. 3 — the day that Charamsa held his news conference — he had already come out in interviews published over the previous 24 hours in the Polish and Italian media. But it was only that day, as he faced reporters, that his story truly went global.
Sturla, the media consultant, ultimately persuaded Charamsa to move his news conference to a lower-key setting at the Rome restaurant where the two had dined two days earlier. As the cameras rolled, Charamsa held hands with, and hugged, Eduardo while vowing to make “an enormous noise for the good of the church.”
Soon after, Charamsa was evicted by the nun running the Rome convent where he had lived for years as a chaplain, he said. His brother’s children are being bullied at school, and his mother is facing pressure at her church in his native Poland, he added. The Vatican fired him on the spot, leaving him unemployed. And his bishop in Poland suspended him, stripping him of the right to wear the Roman collar and celebrate Mass.
Technically, Charamsa said, he remains ordained. In a statement, his bishop left the door open for Charamsa’s return to the practicing priesthood should he repent. But it’s an offer, Charamsa told his applauding audience in Spain, that he has declined.
“I’ve come out of the closet,” he said, “and I’m not going back.”
Critics of Charamsa’s public protest also question his timing. On Oct. 3, the day of the news conference, Andrea Rubera was across town helping manage a major meeting in Rome of gay Catholics. Rubera, the spokesman for an Italian gay group advocating a gentler approach toward change in the church, was hopeful about the major Vatican synod starting the next day. Bishops were set to discuss, among other issues, the church’s approach toward gays and lesbians. His group had even managed to secure a Catholic bishop — the Rev. José Raúl Vera López of Saltillo, Mexico — to speak at the meeting.
Then Charamsa dropped his bombshell.
“We spent a year organizing that conference,” Rubera said. “But the day it happened, the press showed up, and all they wanted to talk about was Charamsa.”
Under Francis, Rubera said, he has sensed a subtle but important shift in the icy relationship between homosexuals and the Catholic Church in Italy. One local parish in Rome, he said, is now openly inviting gay Catholics to participate in church events — something once unthinkable. Yet Charamsa’s “theatrical” coming out, he says, put those gains in jeopardy and sabotaged the synod, which failed to break any new ground on homosexuality.
“Our fear now is that his coming out, and the way he came out, will build a wall, not a bridge,” Rubera said.
Said Michael Brinkschröder, coordinator of the European Forum of Christian LGBT Groups: “I think many cardinals — for example, Cardinal Müller — might have felt pressured [by Charamsa’s move]. My position is that pressure is not the appropriate means to achieve change.”
In fact, shortly before Charamsa’s announcement, the priest had consulted with a small group of leading voices in the gay Catholic communities in Poland, Britain and Italy. All were strongly in favor of his coming out. But several disagreed with him on key points.
Charamsa says that gay Catholics advocating less confrontational methods have thus far failed to produce results. He welcomes Francis’s more inclusive approach but also describes it as mostly “words.” Rather than being a product of his coming out, the lack of a new approach at the synod is the product of entrenched church thinking that needs to be more boldly challenged, he said.