French Catholic church leader admits same-sex relationships

Letter in French Catholic magazine published after revelation he held several long-term gay relationships

French Catholic church authorities have accepted the resignation of its archbishop over his “ambiguous” relations with men.

During an investigation into Bishop Bernard Fellay, the French newspaper Liberation revealed that the 85-year-old bishop held several long-term homosexual relationships. Fellay’s French-language retort to the letter to Francis was not immediately available.

The archbishop “does not believe that he has committed the immoral acts, but also thinks it a form of ambiguity that has to be corrected”, the letter said.

Francis has faced an unusually strong backlash from Catholics in France over his handling of the sex abuse scandal, which has alienated many with his repeated attempts to open the church’s doors to homosexuals. Francis has faced particular criticism in the French Catholic church, where there is unease over his comments on homosexuality, and confusion over what exactly gay sex entails.

“His stance has been so ambiguous for so long, that it’s hard to say if we’re at a crossroads or not,” said René Hirschfels, a gay man who runs the gay magazine Submission.

“If his departure were to have the same effect on the church that Francis’s letter to the bishops had on the sexual abuse crisis in America, we’ll have much better results,” he added.

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