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Father Pierre Valkering
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Dutch diocese fires priest who proclaimed his homosexuality to parish

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

July 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Dutch priest who publicly proclaimed his homosexuality at the end of his jubilee Mass marking the 25th anniversary of his ordination earlier this year, has been “fired” from his parish in Amsterdam known as the “Vredeskerk.” His dismissal as of June 24 by the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam was noted to the parish council of Our Lady of Peace a few days ago and made public by letter to all the parishioners last Sunday.

Local and international reports stated that Fr. Pierre Valkering had been dismissed because of his homosexuality. However, the diocese lost no time in telling the media that Valkering was “absolutely not” being sent away from his parish of 25 years because of his “orientation.”

According to spokesman Bart Putter, Bishop Jozef Punt had already made clear immediately after Valkering’s “coming out” that he would not return to the Vredeskerk. The bishop decided that Valkering should enter into a period of reflection and guidance before receiving a new nomination, the spokesman explained.

“Frankly, there has been nothing new,” Putter told Katholiek Nieuwsblad. “To date, the parish priest has taken no initiative regarding a period of recollection with guidance, which means there is no opening yet for a possible new nomination,” he said, thus making clear that the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam would be in principle prepared for Valkering to continue his ministry in another parish.

He was not to return to the Vredeskerk — although he still resides at the parish rectory — because of the “unrest” created by his spectacular and not very penitent confession from the pulpit on March 31. This “unrest” followed the publication of an autobiography about his sexual inclinations, immoralities, and escapades, which appear to have triggered the decision to sideline the priest, rather than his homosexuality.

The situation as described by the diocese’s spokesman also means that to date, no steps have been taken to sanction Valkering  in other ways, including reduction to the lay state. He is still a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, even though he was asked temporarily to lay aside his priestly duties at the beginning of April this year.

The coadjutor bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, Bishop Jan Hendriks, was named acting pastor of the Vredeskerk on June 24, mainly to look after legal and administrative affairs.

Pierre Valkering himself may challenge his dismissal, a procedure that could take “several months” if appeals take place before the ecclesiastical courts. For the duration of the procedure, there will be no nomination of a new pastor at Our Lady of Peace, and Masses and other ceremonies will be celebrated by replacement priests, as has been the case since the beginning of April.

Valkering, who is away on vacation, told the Dutch public news service NOS that he is not happy with the diocese’s decision, “but this way of operating does not surprise me.” He added that he has not yet decided whether he will appeal the decision: “I’m letting this rest to the end of my holiday. My life has been sufficiently turned upside down and it's good to be able to step back a bit.”

For the time being, the most remarkable aspect of this affair is the way the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam fell over itself to correct reports about the supposed sanctioning of Valkering because of his homosexuality.

This is more or less what was conveyed when Valkering decided to go public about his “sexual orientation”: at the time, Bishop Punt said the diocese had been “publicly forced into a corner” instead of being put in a position privately to help Valkering explore the situation.

“The pastor could also have chosen to talk openly and honestly about his struggles with sexuality and celibacy with the bishop. Such honesty would certainly not have been punished. On the contrary, ways could have been explored with Fr. Valkering to reflect on this and to get help. This has happened in the past with a few other priests,” an official statement from the bishop’s office said at the time.

LifeSite also at the time quoted the lines preceding this statement: “In the public news, it’s usually forgotten that Fr. Valkering, on the grounds of previous declarations and publications, had been having talks with the diocese for a longer time. During these talks the bishop explicitly indicated that he didn’t intend to get rid of him because of his orientation, but he did ask him to stick to his promise of celibacy that he made when he was ordained.”

The main problem, from the bishop’s point of view, is still Valkering’s difficulty with remaining faithful to his promise of sexual continence. Bishop Punt told De Gaykrant a few days ago that he appreciated Valkering’s honesty and could understand his struggles but that he was still asking him to put his duties aside. His refusal to remain true to his promise was not compatible with the worthy exercise of the priesthood, the bishop stated, according to Katholiek Nieuwsblad.

In particular, Valkering wrote in his book about his visits to dark rooms and gay saunas to find partners with whom to commit homosexual acts, his long-lasting relationship with a male “friend,” and an ongoing porn addiction.

In interviews with the press, he made clear that he had stopped committing sodomy over the years and had conquered his porn addiction more recently, either when he decided to publish this book or when he spoke about it to his parish congregation. His versions vary.

In a lengthy interview with left-wing TV BNNVara at the end of April, Valkering explained that he was now prepared to live a “celibate” life and added that according to him, a large number of priests in his diocese have some homosexual aspect in their lives.

He also consistently refused to say his sexual activities were sins, adding that that is something for each person to decide in conscience and that the main problem in his case had been his promise to live a continent life. He added that in his view, there is nothing wrong with homosexuality and homosexual acts as such for people who are “born that way” and who are basically looking for human companionship.

In an August 2018 interview with director Paul Hofman of DeGayKrant — Hofman is Valkering’s official spokesman — Valkering criticized Cardinal Raymond Burke’s statements about the link between homosexuality and sexual abuse in the Church. Valkering is presented in the article as “also a homosexual.”

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