A high-ranking Polish Catholic priest who was sacked after he came out as gay has accused the Vatican of making the lives of homosexuals "a hell", in a letter sent to the pope.
Krzysztof Charamsa thanked Pope Francis for his positive words and gestures but criticised what he called the Vatican's hypocrisy in banning gay priests even though he said the clergy was "full" of homosexuals.
"Have a minimum of mercy. At least leave us alone, allow civil societies to make our lives more human, while you, with your church, have managed to make the lives of us homosexuals a hell," he wrote in the letter.
Charamsa sparked outrage at the Vatican that day by publicly declaring his homosexuality - and presenting his Spanish boyfriend Eduardo Planas - on the eve of a bishops' synod which touched on the divisive issue of the Church's relationship to gay believers.
A Polish bishop last week defrocked the 43-year-old priest, who now lives in Barcelona with his partner.
Charamsa had held a senior position working for the Vatican office for protecting Catholic dogma, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
He wrote that after a "long and tormented period of discernment and prayer", he had taken the decision to "publicly reject the violence of the Church towards homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual people".
"Today I have put myself on the side of the fantastic homosexual people, who have during centuries been humiliated by a fanatical church," he added.
While Charamsa can no longer perform priestly duties, he has not been excommunicated, a move that would entirely banish him from the Catholic Church.
The pontiff met a gay former student of his during his recent visit to the United States and has previously said that gay people should not be marginalised in society.