The Catholic Church has excommunicated a Brazilian priest, because he publicly defended homosexuals, open marriage and other practices counter to the Church’s beliefs. In a statement released on Monday, the priest's eparchy 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 "violated the Catholic Church with grave statements counter to the dogma of Catholic faith and morality." In the statement, his actions were assessed as "heresy and schism," big enough reason to be excommunicated from this religious community.
The priest has repeatedly challenged Church doctrine, in his online videos and other public activities, such as a radio broadcasts and local newspaper columns.
This 47-year-old man who studied theology in Germany is particularly popular among the residents of the city of Bauru where he has been a parish priest since 2001. He became known for his T-shirts with pictures of rock bands, piercing in the right ear and his habit of posing, as on his official Facebook page, with a glass of beer.
"I feel honoured to belong to the long list of people who have been murdered and burned alive for thinking and searching for knowledge."- Daniel posted on his Twitter
Daniel's excommunication, which prompted headlines across Brazil and protests in social media, illustrates the rising influence of more moderate social views in Brazil. Progressive stances on sexuality, birth control, scientific research and other delicate topics for the Church are increasingly common in Latin America, home to 42 percent of the world's Catholics, more than any other region worldwide.