AMSTERDAM (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Dutch priest has been fired by the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam in the Netherlands after announcing his coming out at a Mass celebrating his 25th official jubilee.
Parishioners heard the news about the dismissal on Sunday from the district board.
Pierre Valkering, pastor of Amsterdam Peace Church, punctuated his coming out by presenting a biography of his life as a homosexual priest called Ontkleed niet naakt staan: Hoe vindt een Roomse priester zijn weg? (Stand Undressed, Not Naked: How Does a Roman Priest Find His Way?) to his parishioners.
The gay pastor expresses strong criticism of the Catholic Church in his book, calling it "shrinking and sectarian."
The Dutch priest talks about visits to gay saunas and dark rooms and his addiction to porn.
The 57-year-old priest has been fighting for years for greater tolerance towards homosexuality within the Church. In 2016, he wanted to participate in the Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade by riding on one of the canal boats. The diocese, however, did not give its permission.
Bishop Jozef Marianus Punt of Haarlem-Amsterdam said through a spokesman the dismissal is due to the manner of Valkering's coming out, not his orientation.
Punt had asked Valkering to lay down his priestly duties "for the time being, and enter into a period of reflection" in April after the public coming out during Mass.
With the publication of the pastor's book, the diocese was attacked and publicly embarrassed, forcing it to issue a statement.
According to reports, the diocese feels embarrassed because Valkering announced that he was homosexual in a Mass that celebrated his official jubilee "and did not abide by celibacy."
In a letter, the diocese informed the board that Valkering had been dismissed as pastor of the Peace Church effective June 24.
"The pastor could also have chosen to discuss his struggle with sexuality and celibacy openly and honestly with the bishop," the diocese said in the statement. "That honesty would certainly not have been punished. On the contrary, Father Valkering could have sought ways to reflect on this and receive help."
In a statement to De Gaykrant, a Dutch newspaper for the gay community, Punt said that "while he appreciates Valkering's honesty and understands his struggle, he nevertheless asked him to lay down his priestly duties because the priest refuses to abide by his vow of celibacy," adding it is "incompatible with a worthy exercise of the priesthood."
The bishop ceded, "The Church understands human weakness and everyone's personal struggle to grow in holiness, but Father Valkering now declares that he doesn't even want to try and live an ordered celibate life."
The Code of Canon Law (CCC) states:
An unmarried candidate for the permanent diaconate and a candidate for the presbyterate are not to be admitted to the order of diaconate unless they have assumed the obligation of celibacy in the prescribed rite publicly before God and the Church or have made perpetual vows in a religious institute. (CCC 1037)
According to the Dutch Review, Valkering said that "he is not happy with the decision of the diocese," but "this way of operating does not surprise me."
Valkering can still appeal against his dismissal. If he does that, then the appeal process in ecclesiastical law can take months.
The priest does not yet know if he will oppose the decision: "I will let it rest until after my vacation. My life has been turned upside down enough and it is nice to be able to take some distance."
De Gaykrant reported, "For a large number of parishioners from the Amsterdam Peace Church, it was an ink-black day" after they heard of their pastor's dismissal, adding "it was the bullet in the church."
Though multiple media reports say he was "fired," it's unclear what exact canonical penalties have been imposed beyond his dismissal from the parish.
No one reliable survey has been done to determine how many homosexual priests have infiltrated the Church. But many surveys find between 15% and 50% of U.S. priests are gay, which is much greater than the 3.8 percent of people who identify as LGBTQ in the general population, according to one report.
Eighty percent of priests working at the Vatican are gay, although not necessarily sexually active, claims author Frédéric Martel in In the Closet of the Vatican published in February 2019.
Much literature underscores that the priesthood is becoming a gay profession, as Donald B. Cozzens, a former seminary rector, wrote in The Changing Face of the Priesthood, published in 2000.
And as far back as 1989, Rev. Andrew M. Greeley wrote: ''Blatantly active homosexual priests are appointed, transferred and promoted. ... National networks of active homosexual priests (many of them church administrators) are tolerated. Pedophiles are reassigned.''
The publisher's description of Valkering's book Ontkleed niet naakt staan: Hoe vindt een Roomse priester zijn weg? records that in 2016 the Dutch priest gave Pope Francis an Italian translation of his previous book chronicling farewell speeches of gay men written in collaboration with Jan van Kilsdonk.
Upon receiving the book, the Pope responded: "I carry those people with me in my heart. I want to say that to them."
Valkering maintained that the Pope's response "entrusted me with a mission!"