A celibate gay priest fired from his job as a university chaplain has urged Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics when he makes his trip to the US later this year.
Rev Warren Hall says that the Church is "alienating them [LGBT Catholics] more and more".
"I realize that there are great expectations being placed upon you when you make your pastoral visit to the United State this September," Hall wrote in a letter to Francis last week.
"I ask that among all of those, that you mind time to listen to the challenges faced by LGBT people, especially those who are Catholic and wish to remain a part of the Church they have grown up in, which they love, and yet which it seems is alienating them more and more."
Hall added that "Good teachers are being fired, pastoral and compassionate priests and religious women are being silenced and accept it out of fear of being disciplined by their superiors, and good, faith-filled people are leaving the Church as they witness all of this happening.
"As a gay priest, I am personally experiencing all of these things."
Hall was sacked from his job at New Jersey's Seton Hall University after posting a picture on Facebook in support of "NOH8", a campaign against bullying LGBT people. He says that the Archbishop of Newark justified the dismissal as it "raised serious questions in my mind about where you stand with reference to some important Church teachings".
Hall, who came out as gay in May, remains committed to the priesthood, and is celibate, according to Religion News. He told the website that he had not intended to become a spokesperson for gay people in the Church, but wants to use the opportunity well.
"I am not a theologian. I am not a politician. But I am gay. So I think I have something to say at this moment in time," he said.
Pope Francis will be in the US from the 22-27 September. The following month, the Vatican will hold the Synod on the Family in Rome, which some campaigners had hoped would spark the beginning of a more liberal approach to homosexuality. The Holy See has made clear that the issue will not be allowed to dominate the conference, however.
A working document released in June confirmed that the Catholic Church remains opposed to gay marriage and the adoption of children by gay couples. It also said that "everyone, regardless of their sexual tendencies, should be respected in their dignity and welcomed with sensitivity and tact."