By now, everyone has heard of Krzysztof Charamsa, the ex-senior Vatican priest who was removed from his position after acknowledging his homosexuality and admitting that he was in a gay relationship. Most people have already formed an opinion on this topic, and many of us will have exasperatedly wondered why someone’s sexuality should affect anything at all. But how much is our opinion going to change anything?
Charamsa wrote a letter on Oct. 3 to Pope Francis where he addressed the hypocrisy of the Vatican for banning gay priests when the clergy was “full of homosexuals.” He released a copy of this letter to the BBC as well. Even as he puts all of his efforts into pointing out the double standards and injustices of the Roman Catholic Church, I respect him. However, I also wonder how much is going to be achieved.
Charamsa is one man. There are many like him, but they are either closeted and seemingly silent. On one hand, his actions and words might urge others in the Church and elsewhere to stand up for themselves, and every part of me wants that to happen. Yet, if I look at it objectively, I fear that it will not. Why? Simply because of what happened to Charamsa.
Admittedly, Charamsa being in a relationship violates the vow of celibacy Catholic priests take. Yet it cannot be denied that his sexuality played a role in his removal from his post. Others in the Church will see the aftermath of this, and the fear of being stripped off their job — the only thing many of them have ever known — might be too paralyzing to allow them to take a stand. Moreover, Charamsa said that he is scared of what might happen to his mother because of his confession. I am sure he is not alone in his concerns.
In his letter, he praises Pope Francis for more progressive attitudes towards the gay community. Reading that made me happy, but then again Pope Francis is also only one man. He may preach and he may advocate, but the synod on family held in October still did not make any changes to the attitude towards gay Catholics. He is only one man that someday will be relieved of his papal duties. What will happen then?
Orthodoxy will prevail. Sparks are supposed to start revolutions (or fires). I respect and admire Charamsa and even Pope Francis for attempting to be some form of the spark needed to give LGBT Catholics the rights they deserve. However, said spark cannot ignite anything if the surroundings do not permit it. There is unrest, but there is also a great deal of fear and the weight of popular opinion. Much of the world may agree with Charamsa and Pope Francis, but in the Vatican the majority will never go against the status quo. Not yet, anyway.
I hope that the sparks that these figures have ignited will lead to something in the near future, because I know that it is not realistic to believe that a change of this magnitude will happen now. The secular world is seeing changes after years and years of efforts and injustices. The religious world will need more time. The religious world will need more fervor and effort and more people like Charamsa.