Pope Francis is reported to have carried out the first excommunication of his papacy. Australian priest Greg Reynolds has been officially stripped of his priesthood and excommunicated by the Vatican under Pope Francis' authority. The former father Reynolds is known in his order as a supporter of gay rights and other advocacies that the Catholic Church has not been open to. Despite Pope Francis' recent statements suggesting the Church spends too much time concentrating on gays and abortion, it is said father Reynolds was excommunicated for his support of same sex marriage and female clergy.
In 2011, Reynolds resigned his post as a parish priest and in 2012 created the Inclusive Catholics Organization. Reynolds always knew his views and ideas were not popular with the Church and expected to be reprimanded, but not excommunicated. The act of excommunicating someone bars that person from receiving the Holy Sacraments, especially the Eucharist also known as the sacrament of Holy Communion. Reynolds spoke to The Age saying, "In times past excommunication was a huge thing, but today the hierarchy have lost so much truth and respect. I've come to this position because I've followed my conscience on women's ordination and gay marriage."
Reynolds received the notice of his excommunication last week. The papal document was written in Latin and sent to the priest by the office of the Pope. Reynolds was surprised that his excommunication came during the papacy of Pope Francis. The Pope was elected seven months ago and quickly gained a reputation as a Pope looking to make reforms within the Church including over gay rights and women's issues. "I am very surprised that this order has come under his watch; it seems so inconsistent with everything else he has said and done," Reynolds told the National Catholic Reporter.
Time Magazine has pointed out that while an excommunication does require papal approval the order may not have come directly from Francis himself. Since the priest has openly preformed "unofficial" marriages between gay couples, Time believes he could have been on his way toward excommunication for some time. "Excommunication processes tend to take a long time, even years, and Reynolds was likely already tagged for removal before Francis took office in March," writes Time Magazine.
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