This likely wouldn't have been too much of a story a week ago, but
since some journalists and pundits announced last week that Pope Francis
was supposedly tossing out all the rules, remaking every jot and tittle
of Church doctrine, and formally becoming an Episcopalian (is my
sarcasm obvious enough?), it becomes a bit more newsworthy (via The Age):
priest Greg Reynolds has been both defrocked and excommunicated over
his support for women priests and gays - the first person ever
excommunicated in Melbourne, he believes.
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, according to Father Reynolds.
excommunication document - written in Latin and giving no reason - was
dated May 31, meaning it comes under the authority of Pope Francis who
made headlines on Thursday calling for a less rule-obsessed church.
Reynolds, who resigned as a parish priest in 2011 and last year founded
Inclusive Catholics, said he had expected to be laicised (defrocked),
but not excommunicated. But it would make no difference to his ministry.
The "best traditions of the inquisition"? Goodness, does someone have
a persecution complex? Well, we're fortunate that Mr. Reynolds is still
alive, having survived the paper cuts he must have suffered while
opening his letter from the Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei.
Meanwhile, the Newcastle Herald reports
that Reynolds claims over half of the Catholic clergy Down Under are
over the top (but secretly, so to remain under the top) for the
ordination of women and openly homosexual unions:
Melbourne priest of more than three decades founded Inclusive Catholics,
which he calls an "evolving community", last year. A priest and bishop
from the Independent Catholic tradition have joined him and services are
held “every couple of weeks.”
A following of a dozen or so
people attend the services but Father Reynolds says Inclusive Catholics
has a mailing list of around 200 people and support is growing.
from my own experience, I’m aware of a number of priests who share my
belief and my guesstimate would be well over half of the Australian
clergy would share that belief.
“Understandably none of them
haven’t spoken out publically about it because they fear they will
suffer the same fate as myself," Father Reynolds said.
when they weigh it up they feel they can do more good for the
community by staying within the system and trying to bring about
reform and renewal from within.
A blog operated by New Ways Ministries ("Building Bridges Between the LGBT Community and the Catholic Church") expressed confusion as to why a (former) priest who repeatedly and publicly rejected Church teaching, openly disobeyed clear rules (ah, there's that word), and scorned correction would suffer such a fate:
Denis Hart did say the excommunication is a consequence of Fr.
Reynolds’ continuing to preach and celebrate Mass after he resigned from
the priesthood. ... Last week, Pope Francis’ interview with Jesuit publications was a hopeful sign for many that
the Catholic Church was moving towards an era where it is less obsessed
with rules and more in a posture of mercy and dialogue. Fr. Reynolds
claims that interview makes his excommunication “outdated” as the two
men are working for similar ends of renewal and reform. Still the
excommunication formally remains. Does this mean that Pope Francis’
positive words on LGBT issues won’t be translated into equally positive
acts from the Catholic hierarchy? Or was this decision made too early
in his papacy to be a real indicator of his attitude?
As Tim Stanley notes in The Telegraph: "Actually what the Pope was saying was that he wants the Church to talk more about what it's for than what it's against. But that doesn't mean it won't still be against those things that contradict its teachings and traditions."
Why is that so hard to figure out? For one reason, many of those who
openly reject the Catholic Church will not rest until the Church is
either silenced or neutralized, and a simple way to accomplish such
neutralization is to continually misrepresent what the Pope actually
says. After all, it really does work on a large number of people, who
still listen to and even trust the mainstream media, which is an act of
blind faith that I do not understand in the least. Faith and reason go
hand-in-hand, and having an unquestioned faith in secular journalism is
not reasonable; in fact, it might well be superstitious, and as a
Catholic I'll have no part of that. In the meantime, Mr.
Reynolds can keep pursuing his conscience (which was not properly formed
or enlightened by the Truth (see CCC 1783), while the Church continues to preach the Truth.