Catholic church excommunicates Brazil priest for liberal views

Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:05pm EDT
 
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By Paulo Prada

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The Catholic Church has excommunicated a Brazilian priest after he defended homosexuality, open marriage and other practices counter to Church teaching in online videos.

In a statement released late on Monday, the priest's diocese said Father Roberto Francisco Daniel, known to local parishioners as Padre Beto, had "in the name of 'freedom of expression' betrayed the promise of fealty to the Church."

The priest "injured the Church with grave statements counter to the dogma of Catholic faith and morality." The actions amount to "heresy and schism," the statement said, the penalty for which is excommunication, or expulsion from the Church.

The rare punishment follows what Daniel's bishop and the priest himself said were repeated rebukes about the videos and other public activities, such as a radio broadcast and local newspaper column, in which he challenged Church doctrine.

The 47-year-old cleric, who studied theology in Germany, is popular in the southeastern city of Bauru, where he has been a priest since 2001. He is known for his rock T-shirts, a silver stud pierced through his right ear and his habit of posing, as on his official Facebook page, with a glass of beer.

On Facebook and Twitter, Daniel posted a brief statement about the excommunication: "I feel honored to belong to the long list of people who have been murdered and burned alive for thinking and searching for knowledge."

SPREAD OF MODERATE VIEWS

Daniel's excommunication, which prompted headlines across Brazil and protests in social media, illustrates the rising influence of more moderate social views in Brazil, Latin America's biggest country, and much of the rest of the region.   Continued...

 
Brazilian priest Roberto Fransisco Daniel attends mass at a church in Bauru, 330 km (205 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo, in this April 28, 2013 handout. REUTERS/Malavolta Jr/Jornal da Cidade/Handout