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Sacked priest accuses Vatican of making life ‘hell’ for homosexuals

A high-ranking Polish Catholic priest who was sacked after he came out as gay and now lives in Barcelona has accused the Vatican of making the lives of homosexuals "a hell", in a letter sent to the pope.

Sacked priest accuses Vatican of making life 'hell' for homosexuals
Tiziana Fabi / AFP

Krzysztof Charamsa thanked Pope Francis for his positive words and gestures but criticised what he called the Vatican's hypocrisy in banning gay priests even though he said the clergy was “full” of homosexuals.

“Have a minimum of mercy. At least leave us alone, allow civil societies to make our lives more human, while you, with your church, have managed to make the lives of us homosexuals a hell,” he wrote in the letter dated October 3th, seen by AFP on Wednesday.

Charamsa sparked outrage at the Vatican that day by publicly declaring his homosexuality — and presenting his Spanish boyfriend Eduardo Planas — on the eve of a bishops' synod which touched on the divisive issue of the Church's relationship to gay believers.

A Polish bishop last week defrocked the 43-year-old priest for failing to abide by his vow of celibacy.

Charamsa had held a senior position working for the Vatican office for protecting Catholic dogma, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He now lives in Barcelona in northeastern Spain with his partner.

READ: Five reasons why it's great to be gay in Spain

Charamsa wrote that after a “long and tormented period of discernment and prayer”, he had taken the decision to “publicly reject the violence of the Church towards homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual people”.

“Today I have put myself on the side of the fantastic homosexual people, who have during centuries been humiliated by a fanatical church,” he added.

“All gay cardinals, bishops and priests should have the courage to leave this insensible, unjust and violent church.   

“The church must stop sowing hatred against those who live in peace and love on this earth. The church, incapable of confronting humanity, must shut up if it is not capable to use reason,” he added.

While Charamsa can no longer perform priestly duties, he has not been excommunicated, a move that would entirely banish him from the Catholic church.

The pontiff met a gay former student of his during his recent visit to the United States and has previously said that gay people should not be marginalised in society.

But a report adopted by Catholic bishops at the end of their three-week synod on Saturday includes only one brief article on the Church's approach to gay believers, framing the question in terms of how priests can help support families who have “persons with homosexual tendencies” in their midst.

The report strongly reiterates the Church's opposition to gay marriage, saying: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and the family.”

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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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