After ten years of pursuing priesthood in the Jesuit order, Benjamin Brenkert has left the Catholic Church because of recent firings of lesbian and gay people from Catholic institutions, reports the National Catholic Reporter.
Brenkert has written an open letter to Pope Francis which reads in part:
"I ask you to instruct the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to tell Catholic institutions not to fire any more LGBT Catholics. I ask you to speak out against laws that criminalize and oppress LGBTQ people around the globe. These actions would bring true life to your statement 'Whom am I to judge?'"
"I can't be a Jesuit priest because I can't be a member of the Catholic Church right now. I can't be an openly gay Jesuit discerning priesthood in the Catholic Church if LGBTQ employees are being fired from Catholic institutions."
He explained that he finally decided to leave the church when a food pantry worker was fired from St. Francis Xavier Parish in Kansas City, Mo., after her same-wedding was mentioned in a local newspaper article.
"I'm asking the pope to really look at the fact that I as a gay man could become a Catholic priest, and reach the highest level of human relationship with God as a celibate priest, while LGBTQ employees that are seeking marriage and sacramental recognition of their love could no longer be employees because they were delighting in God's love for them. Is that fair? That's not for me to say. All I want to do is ask people to identify with my story and to ask the church to be clear about what she believes."
In August, Colin Collette, music director at the Holy Family Catholic Community church in Inverness, Illinois, was fired by pastor Terry Keehan after Collette posted photos of his proposal to his long-time same-sex partner.
Last month, Olivia Reichert and Christina Gambaro, two gay teachers at Cor Jesu, an all-girls Catholic high school in the Affton, Missouri area, were fired after administrators discovered they had married in New York.
At least 17 Catholic Church employees have been fired, resigned, or discriminated against over LGBT-related employment disputes this year, according to The National Catholic Reporter.
Watch a report on the Cor Jesu case, AFTER THE JUMP…