An Italian Catholic priest is making headlines on the Apennine Peninsula for coming out as gay last week, according to a report from Gay Star News. On International Coming Out Day, Don Mario Bonfanti — a priest in the Lombardy region of Italy — wrote on Facebook, “I am gay. Or, better, I am a happily gay priest.”

He continued:

Truth makes us free, so Jesus said.

But, strangely, the Church denies this sentence. Catholic LGBT people must come out. They have to accept the truth.

don mario bonfanti 261x300 Italian Catholic Priest Comes OutAs Huffington Post notes, further details about Bonfanti’s coming out and the reaction among Italian Catholics are scarce in the English-speaking media, but a Facebook group called “Io sto con Don Mario” (“I support Don Mario”) has already gathered nearly 1,600 members.

For a Catholic priest to come out of the closet requires a great deal of courage. I know I’m always calling out the hierarchy of the Catholic Church for the way it persecutes LGBT people, but in my view it’s equally important to amplify and commend those, like Bonfanti, who are working hard to take their church back from the forces of homophobia and proclaim that theirs is not a god of bigotry, but one of love. Bravo!