The Vatican has fired a priest who just came out as gay, drawing more controversy to the Catholic Church on the eve of a major meeting meant to build bridges to the gay community.
Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa is a mid-level official in the Vatican, and came out as gay this week in an interview published across Europe.
Charamsa also admitted that he was in love with a man he identified as his boyfriend, the Associated Press reported.
On Saturday, the Vatican announced that it had fired the gay priest, calling his behavior "very serious and irresponsible." The firing comes on the eve of the synod, a meeting planned to help the church better connect with gay and divorced members.
"The decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the synod assembly to undue media pressure," the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said in a statement.
Charamsa said he hoped that by coming out he could offer a voice to gay members of the church, especially those afraid of coming out.
"I came out. This is a very personal, difficult and tough decision in the Catholic Church's homophobic world," Charamsa said, and asked people to bear this in mind.
Coming out of monsignor Krzysztof #Charamsa "I'm #gay and I have a partner" #coraggio http://t.co/dZS8HtjxmPCharmsa himself was the target of anti-gay sentiment, including death threats after he criticized a right-wing Polish priest.
— Hedwig Zeedijk (@hedzed) October 3, 2015
"I have to say who I am. I am a gay priest. I am a happy and proud gay priest," he told Gazeta Wyborcza.
The firing comes as the Vatican is already under criticism by LGBT groups. During a visit to the United States last week, Pope Francis met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
But the Vatican said the meeting did not mean support of Davis' position. In a statement released on Friday morning (via the New York Times), the Vatican said Pope Francis met with her along with a number of others.
"The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," Lombardi said.
"Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City," Father Lombardi said, referring to the Vatican's embassy. "Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the pope's characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family."
Though Pope Francis denies supporting Kim Davis, in the past he has been known to espouse strong views on gay marriage. In a visit to the Philippines earlier this year, the Pope said that gay marriage is a "threat" to the family.
"The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage," the pope said. During the trip he also warned that society was "tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family. As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God's plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture."
While the Vatican fired the priest from his position in the church's organization, Krzysztof Charamsa remains a priest.
[Image via Pool/Getty Images]