The Vatican has sacked a Polish priest after he publicly declared his homosexuality on the eve of the Synod, a major meeting of the world's bishops to discuss among, other issues, the church outreach to gays.
In a statement on October 3, a Vatican spokesman said Krzystof Charamsa's action had been "very serious and irresponsible" and that the priest would be automatically relieved of his post as a theologian in the Vatican.
Charamsa, standing beside his Spanish boyfriend, told a news conference in Rome he had been compelled to speak out against what he said was the hypocrisy and paranoia that shapes the Catholic Church's attitude to sexual minorities.
"I want to be an advocate for all sexual minorities and their families who have suffered in silence," said the 43-year-old.
"Every homosexual person is a son of God," he said during a video interview published on October 3. "When [a homosexual person] believes in God, [he] is a son of the church or another Christian community, and the necessity [is to respect] his dignity."
In an indication that Charamsa had planned the move for some time, he presented a 10-point "liberation manifesto" against "institutionalized homophobia in the church," which he said particularly oppressed the gay men who, according to him, make up the majority of priests.
He also revealed plans for a book about his 12 years at the heart of a Vatican bureaucracy only just recovering from a scandal under previous Pope Benedict XVI over the influence of a "gay lobby" among senior clergy.
"What the [Roman Catholic] Church knows about homosexuality is a cluster of stereotypes, false images, lies, and banal commonplaces because my church suggests to gays to stay hidden, live in isolation and anonymity, not to show their [sexual] identity, and [preserve] absolute sexual abstinence with refraining from any demonstrations of their sexuality," he added.
"This is not healthy for a healthy person. This is not the path that Jesus Christ wanted us to take."
The Vatican statement said "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."
Charamsa denied he had timed his announcement to coincide with the meeting.
Charamsa, a theologian, had worked at the Vatican since 2003 and taught theology at pontifical universities in Rome, which have also dismissed him.
With reporting by AP and Reuters