“The church needs a coming out”

Prelate Krzysztof Charamsa with his partner © Luciano Del Castillo

Kzysztof Charamsa © Toni Albir

Controversy over homosexuality: now-suspended gay priest Charamsa has accused the church of "gay paranoia". Meanwhile, in Italy, Catholic organizations have announced rallies today against gay marriage.

Polish priest Krzysztof Charamsa accuses the Catholic Church of homophobia and double standards. He spoke late Friday night on the SWR television program "Nachtcafe," according to the station, of a true "gay paranoia" in the Vatican, especially the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which he was a member for twelve years. In the program on "The Cross with Sex," he cited the fact that many of the priests in the Vatican were also secretly gay as one reason for the homophobia he alleged in the church. The Catholic Church needs "a huge coming-out," said Charamsa, who himself admitted to his homosexuality.

Hamburg auxiliary bishop also a guest

In the same broadcast, Hamburg Auxiliary Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke, who is also a member of the German Bishops' Conference, explained that there are "of course homosexuals among priests," probably at all levels of the Church. "But we are not a homosexual gang walking around in women's clothes," Jaschke said, according to the SWR news release. The church must "get out of hypocrisy," the auxiliary bishop explained. He himself accepts people with homosexual tendencies. "Whether they should now become priests, that's debatable," he said.

The 43-year-old Charamsa had come out as homosexual with his Catalan partner in Rome at the beginning of October. He accused the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of "paranoid homophobia". As a result, he promptly lost his post at the Vatican as well as his teaching license for papal universities. Two weeks later, his home bishop in Pelplin, Poland, suspended him from his priestly duties.

Woelki: Every Jeck is different

The events had caused much discussion in October 2015. Cardinal Woelki was also asked about this topic on the WDR talk show "Kolner Treff". He noted at the time that Charamsa was not out of office because he had come out as homosexual, but because he was living in a partnership. It was a breach of the promise of celibacy.

In Cologne, homosexuality is commonplace and is simply accepted and tolerated, Woelki said. Here one says "each Jeck is different". The Catholic Church has always clearly stated that it prefers marriage between a man and a woman, Woelki explained. However, Pope Francis had just as long ago declared, "How do I come to discriminate against or hurt homosexual people". In this respect, he himself also has respect for every human being and does not reduce any person to his sexual orientations and inclinations, Woelki stressed.

Demonstration against gay marriage in Italy

In Italy, the topic of gay marriage is currently heating up the tempers. Catholic organizations have called for a rally there on Saturday against the legal recognition of gay marriages. Hundreds of thousands of participants are expected to attend the demonstration at the Circus Maximus in Rome. The protest is against a bill that would allow gays and lesbians in a registered partnership to take their partner's name and adopt his or her biological children, provided they do not have another parent.

Pope Francis has already spoken out clearly on the legislative process in Italy. He declared that "there can be no confusion between the family willed by God and any other kind of union".Commentators saw this as a deliberate contribution by the pope to the current discussion in the Italian parliament about a corresponding bill.

Catholic-majority Italy is one of the last Western European countries without legal status for gay couples. Last weekend, tens of thousands of gay marriage supporters took to the streets in several Italian cities.

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Christina Cherry
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