An Australian priest has been excommunicated by the Vatican over his support for gay rights and women, just days after the pope called for Catholics to “find a new balance” by refraining from frequent condemnation on gay issues.
On Thursday, Pope Francis said the Roman Catholic Church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception – and that he was choosing to avoid discussing those subjects. He said he feared that the church would become a “small chapel”, rather than a “home for all”.
The document excommunicating Father Greg Reynolds was written in Latin, and which gave no reasons, came from the Vatican, and came just days after Pope Francis’ speech.
Father Reynolds had told The Age that he expected to be defrocked, but that he did not expect to be excommunicated.
“In times past excommunication was a huge thing, but today the hierarchy have lost such trust and respect,” he said.
“I’ve come to this position because I’ve followed my conscience on women’s ordination and gay marriage… The Vatican never contacted me, and it gives no explanation.”
Fairfax Media notes that the only other priests in Melbourne who have been defrocked, is when they have been notorious paedophiles.
“I’m a bit annoyed, if not angry, at the process or lack of process,” Mr Reynolds said to AAP.
Peter LaBarbera, the president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, took umbrage at an apparent softening of stance by Pope Francis, as he made comments on Thursday around the Catholic Church’s treatment of gay issues.
Chad Griffin, the president of the HRC wrote an open letter on Friday addressed to the Knights of Columbus and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops calling the Pope’s speech “a remarkable moment”, and calling on the Catholic hierarchy to follow his comments.