which is it?

Priest says he was fired for being gay, church says he was fired for hanging out in sex clubs

Pierre Valkering

A Dutch priest is blowing the whistle after he says he was fired by the Catholic Church for being gay.

Pierre Valkering’s troubles began back in March when he was suspended from his duties after coming out during a mass in the Vredeskerk in Amsterdam.

During the mass, the 57-year-old priest talked about the “big pink elephant” within the Catholic Church and criticized its culture of silence around homosexuality, saying he had “suffered a lot” because of it.

Around that same time, Valkering published a memoir, in which he wrote extensively about his life as a gay man, including frequent visits to sex clubs (which he calls “dark rooms”) and overcoming an addition to gay porn while in the priesthood.

Since then, Valkering has been on “vacation” from his job.

Until this week, that is, when the Amsterdam Peace Church sent a letter to parishioners informing them he had officially been let go.

Valkering tells the Dutch news organization NOS that he’s “not happy” with the diocese’s decision, but “this way of operating does not surprise me.”

He says he plans to continue enjoying the remainder of his vacation and will worry about the next steps when he returns home.

“I will let it rest until after my vacation. My life has been turned upside down enough and it is nice to be able to take some distance.”

Meanwhile, the diocese insists Valkering was “absolutely not” fired for being gay and instead says it was because he broke his vows of celibacy, which he openly admitted to in his book.

At the time of the book’s release, Valkering told an interviewer, “It is clear that with this book I am going on particularly slippery ice, or even a minefield.”

“Because it is largely about sex and about the priesthood and those are, certainly in combination with each other, great taboo subjects where the signals quickly turn red and the alarm bells start to ring.”

Related: Retired priest reinvents himself as gay adult film star at age 83, says he’s “having a party!”