|Robert Francisco Daniel|
According to a communique issued by the diocese issued two days ago, “the pronouncements and attitudes of the Reverend Fr. Robert Francisco Daniel, which in the name of ‘freedom of expression’ have betrayed the commitment to fidelity to the Church which he swore to serve on the day of his priestly ordination, are a matter of public knowledge.”
“These acts have created great scandal and injured the communion of the Church,” the diocese of Bauru adds. “His attitude is incompatible with the obligations of the priestly state which he should love, because it was he who asked from the Church the Grace of Ordination.”
The priest’s statements are “gravely against the dogmas of the Catholic Faith, [and] against morality,” and represent “a deliberate refusal of obedience to his pastor,” said the statement from the diocese. Therefore he “has committed the most grave crime of heresy and schism whose penalty, prescribed in canon 1364, first paragraph of the Code of Canon Law, is excommunication,” it continued.
Fr. Robert Francisco Daniel, better known as “Padre Beto,” provoked outrage among the Catholic faithful of Brazil for statements made in a recent video interview denying the Church’s condemnation of homosexual behavior. Catholics were encouraged by blogs such as the traditionalist “Fratres in Unum” to contact Daniel’s diocese as well as the Vatican.
In the video Daniel claimed that modern science has disproven the teachings contained in the Bible regarding homosexuality, asserting that “today it will no longer do to categorize a human being as homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual,” adding that “love can arise from any one of those levels.”
The Catholic Church, continued Daniel, “is going to have to change, but not because the society has changed, but because science and human knowledge have evolved. We can’t throw out 2,000 years of culture of human knowledge and continue to affirm things that, yes, are in the Bible, phrases that are in the Bible, but are fruits of what? Not of the Holy Spirit. Phrases that are fruits of the culture of the time. That’s what we can’t do.”
The Catholic Church, through the Bible and through its doctrinal declarations, teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically evil,” alongside all sexual acts outside of marriage, which is understood as a perpetual union between one man and one woman.
The priest had also defended "open marriages," saying in a recent video: "If someone is in an extramarital relationship and that relationship is accepted by the spouse, then faithfulness still exists there."
Following the outcry against his latest remarks, Daniel expressed defiance on his Facebook page, stating, “I’m not going to withdraw any material posted by my authority on social networks, on my site or in any space on the Internet.” He said that “the Church needs to be a dialogical space” so people can “become true sons of God in our contemporary world.” In the same message he renounced his priestly ministry.
In an interview with the newspaper O Globo following the excommunication, Daniel accused the Catholic Church of being “homophobic.”
“Today, sexual diversity exists, and there are many texts in the Bible that we can no longer consider words of God,” he told the publication. “Sadly, the Catholic Church is still homophobic despite having many homosexuals within it. It has become closed to the world of today and not open to dialogue.”
The diocese notes that Bishop Frei Caetano Ferrar sought to resolve the matter with Daniel, but to no avail. The bishop, “with the patience and charity of a pastor, has long sought a dialogue to overcome and resolve this situation in a fraternal and Christian way,” the diocese notes. However, after “all the initiatives were exhausted” and the wayward priest “reacted aggressively” and “refused all dialogue” with a diocesan canon lawyer who was apparently assigned to judge the case, the diocese proceeded with the excommunication.
The case follows that of Fr. Jose Nicolas Alessio, whose defrocking by the Diocese of Cordoba in Argentina was announced in April of this year following his remarks in 2010 defending homosexual “marriage.”