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Brazil priest excommunicated over support for gays

SAO PAULO, Brazil - A Catholic priest in southeastern Brazil was excommunicated on Monday, April 29, after publicly resigning from his duties to protest against the church's opposition to homosexuality.

"Father Roberto Francisco Daniel can no longer celebrate the divine rite because he has been excommunicated," a statement from the Bauru diocese in Sao Paulo state said.

The 48-year-old priest, who renounced his church duties over the weekend, was accused of "heresy" and "schism" by the church hierarchy in the world's biggest Catholic country, which will welcome Pope Francis in late July during a major youth festival in Rio de Janeiro.

"Father Beto," as his parishioners call him, announced on social networks that he was giving up the priesthood, urging the Church to modify its views on homosexuality and bisexuality to adapt to "new realities."

"We should simply be considered as gendered beings and not as homosexuals or bisexuals since love can spring at all these levels," the priest said in a video posted on YouTube.

"For me it has become impossible to live the Gospel in an institution where freedom of thought and freedom of expression are not respected," he said in an online message. - Rappler.com