Just one day before Pope Francis criticized the Catholic Church over its obsession with gays, an Australian priest learned he had been both defrocked and excommunicated over his support for women priests and same-sex marriage.
Father Greg Reynolds said the order comes direct from the Vatican, not at the request of Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, and apparently follows a secret denunciation in the best traditions of the inquisition, reported Australia’s The Age.
The excommunication document — written in Latin and giving no reason — was delivered Sept. 18 through a canon lawyer for the Melbourne archdiocese, Fr. John Salvano, who invited Reynolds a few weeks earlier to meet “to discuss ‘some canonical issue,’” Reynolds said.
A separate letter sent Friday from Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart indicated Reynolds’ support of women’s ordination was a primary reason for the excommunication
But Reynolds said he believes the excommunication also resulted from his support of the gay community.
Reynolds said the letter was dated May 31, meaning it comes under the authority of Pope Francis, who made international headlines on Thursday calling for a less rule-obsessed church.
According to church teaching, excommunication refers to the severest measure of censure for Catholics and forbids an individual from holding any office or receive any sacraments. Being laicised means one is no longer a priest.
Reynolds said he was penniless when he resigned as a Melbourne priest, and was later offered $5,000 as a payout for his 32 years of service, though he says the usual figure is about $1500 per year of service – in his case, $48,000.
Negotiations are continuing.