There’s no covert (or overt) network of gay priests in the Vatican, as has been alleged by no less than Pope Francis and his immediate predecessor, says a priest recently fired after coming out as gay and partnered.
“I met homosexual priests, often isolated like me ... but no gay lobby,” Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa (pictured above) told an Italian TV station in an interview broadcast Sunday, reports Agence France-Presse. Charamsa was fired from the Vatican just weeks ago after speaking to an Italian newspaper about his identity and his relationship.
In 2013, Pope Francis told a group of Latin American church leaders that there is indeed a “gay lobby” in the Vatican. A report commissioned by the previous pope, Benedict XVI, alleged there was a Vatican-connected gay network that met in and around Rome.
But in his interview, Charamsa said he “never met a gay lobby in the Vatican,” AFP reports. He also said that among the individual gay priests he met, some were homophobic and had “hatred for themselves and others.” However, he added, “I also met several fantastic homosexuals who are some of the best ministers in the church.”
Charamsa also said he wrote a letter to Pope Francis asking him to bring a spirit of openness to the bishops’ synod on family issues, now going on in Rome and expected to involve much discussion of LGBT-related matters.
He further contended that he had not broken his vow of celibacy because he has “never touched a woman.”
An Italian former priest who was defrocked for being gay recently told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the Vatican has a special "treatment" for gay priests, sending them off to a convent in the mountains above Milan in an effort to "cure" them of what the former priest called "homosexual tendencies."
“There exists a convent where priests who manifest inappropriate sexual tendencies are sent to reflect," 44-year-old Mario Bonfanti told the newspaper. "It’s a place where they help you to rediscover the straight and narrow. They wanted to ‘cure’ me but I refused to go.”
Catholic officials acknowledged the existence of the convent outside Milan, but would not address the specific nature of the issues addressed at the Venturini Convent.
“Priests come to us for a period of formation and personal reflection. At the moment we have neither gay priests nor pedophile priests here," Father Gianluigi Pasto, 71, the head of the convent, told U.K. newspaper The Telegraph. "Certainly our job is to welcome everybody.”