Pope Francis closes the World Meeting of Families with a mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway concluding his three-city U.S. visit in Philadelphia on Sept. 27. On Oct. Sunday, Francis opened a synod in Vatican City in which hundreds of bishops and lay people would discuss family issues -- one day after a Vatican priest announced he was happily gay. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
VATICAN CITY, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- A Vatican priest on Saturday announced he is gay one day before Pope Francis opened a Roman Catholic synod dealing with family issues.
Speaking to Corriere Della Sera newspaper, Poland-born Krzysztof Charamsa, 43, said he wanted his church and community to know he is "a gay priest who is happy, and proud of his identity."
"I'm prepared to pay the consequences," Charamsa said, "but it's time the church opened its eyes and realized that offering gay believers total abstinence from a life of love is inhuman."
The BBC quoted a Vatican spokesman as saying Charamsa -- who was dismissed from his post -- had made a "grave and irresponsible" announcement that would put "undue media pressure" on Pope Francis.
On Sunday, Francis celebrated mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican during the opening of the synod, which will feature discussion between 300 clergy members and some lay people regarding the treatment of gay Catholics as well as divorcees and people living together out of wedlock.
The pope delivered a homily on the importance of family, noting that "the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution."
Regarding divorce, Francis called on believers to "overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centeredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God's plan."
In the past, Francis reaffirmed the church's stance that homosexual acts were sinful, but he also has exhibited what is regarded as a more liberal stance on the issue, saying, "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"
Charamsa said the Catholic church is "already behind in tackling the issue" and that gay believers should not have to wait another 50 years, a reference to the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965, which addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world.
"I would like to tell the synod that homosexual love is a kind of family love, a love that needs the family. Everyone – gays, lesbians and transsexuals included – foster in their hearts a desire for love and family," Charamsa said. "Everyone has the right to love, and that love must be protected by society and law. But above all it must be nourished by the church."
The synod comes after Pope Francis met with a same-sex couple during his visit to the United States in September, as well as with Kim Davis, a local official in Rowan County, Ky., who, during the same month, cited religious beliefs when she refused a court order to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
A Vatican spokesman later said "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."