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Pope Francis excommunicates Australian priest

By on Friday, 27 September 2013

Pope Francis issued his first excommunication since become Pope in March (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

Pope Francis issued his first excommunication since become Pope in March (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

An Australian priest who supports the ordination of women has been excommunicated by Pope Francis.

In the first such excommunication since the new pontiff took office Fr Greg Reynolds was dismissed in a letter from the Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart, which stated that “the decision by Pope Francis to dismiss Fr Reynolds from the clerical state and to declare his automatic excommunication has been made because of his public teaching on the ordination of women contrary to the teaching of the Church and his public celebration of the Eucharist when he did not hold faculties to act publicly as a priest.”

Archbishop Hart also told other priests in the archdiocese by letter that Fr Reynolds’s excommunication was “because of his public teaching on the ordination of women”, which are grounds for automatic excommunication.

Fr Reynolds is also a supporter of same-sex marriage and has attended rallies in favour of changing the definition of marriage. He has even reportedly presided at same-sex ceremonies.

He told National Catholic Reporter: “I am very surprised that this order has come under his watch; it seems so inconsistent with everything else he has said and done.”

In August 2011 Fr Reynolds resigned his position as a priest at two rural parishes and, after Archbishop Hart removed his priestly faculties, he founded Inclusive Catholics, a pro-female ordination and gay marriage group.

Australian media also reported that in August 2012 he was present at a Mass where a dog had received Communion, which Fr Reynolds said he was not aware of until after the incident.

That month Archbishop Hart wrote to him warning that if he continued to act publicly as a priest he would “be forced to take further canonical action for the good of the Church”.