This story about Luiz Albuquerque Couto's suspension from the priesthood has been all over the Brazilian news today. The version below is a loose translation of the AFP version of the story. My question is: Since, according to his Web site, Couto has been in political office since 1995, how come he wasn't suspended back then? Or does the Brazilian Church operate under a different set of rules than the rest of the Roman Catholic Church? Inquiring minds want to know...
The Archbishop of the state of Paraíba, in northeastern Brazil, has suspended a priest who is also a Brazilian lawmaker from priestly ministry after he came out in the press in support of the use of comdoms and homosexual unions and criticized celibacy.
According to local agencies, Aldo di Cillo Pagotto decided to suspend Father Luiz Couto, who represents the leftist Brazilian Workers Party (PT) in the government, from his religious functions after his opinions were publicized in the O Norte newspaper.
The decision of the local church authorities is applicable in the 75 parishes in which Couto is authorized to act, so therefore he will not be able to celebrate Mass or officiate at weddings, or perform baptisms, among other things. The lawmaker could return to his role if he publicly retracts his assertions.
Pagotto justified his decision as a response that was unfortunately required because Couto’s “summary and ambiguous statements about the use of preservatives and homosexual unions are …diametrically opposed to the positions of the Vatican and that is unacceptable. "
Despite the resolution, Couto told a local television station that he would “continue to celebrate Mass in my house with my friends, wherever…”
Couto, who has been a priest since 1976, had stated to O Norte that the use of condoms is “a matter of public health”, a stand that the government of President Lula, also a PT member, has repeatedly defended in his domestic policy.
Couto also criticized discrimination against homosexuals and their unions, supported an end to celibacy for priests and spoke in favor of medical attention for women who decide to have abortions even though he stated that he himself was against the practice.