Father Greg Reynolds resigned as a parish priest in 2011 to found Inclusive Catholics — which is exactly what it sounds like. According to The Age, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said Reynolds was excommunicated because “after his priestly faculties were withdrawn he continued to celebrate the Eucharist publicly and preach contrary to the teachings of the church.”
Reynolds’s letter of excommunication, dated May 31, was written in Latin and gave no explanation, meaning that it was given under the authority of the Pope. Reynolds said he expected to be excommunicated, though it would have made no difference to his ministry. Getting his frock snatched, however, was a shock.
“In times past excommunication was a huge thing, but today the hierarchy have lost such trust and respect,” Reynolds, who is technically no longer a priest, told The Age. ”I’ve come to this position because I’ve followed my conscience on women’s ordination and gay marriage.”
Excommunication, a temporary censure, bars an individual from holding any ecclesiastical office or receiving sacraments, while being laicized or defrocked means you’re totes dunnzos as a priest. The latter punishment is usually reserved for pedophiles, on whom the Catholic Church has always been rather, shall we say, lax. Hell, we can even say they’ve been downright negligent to the point of becoming the Vatican City chapter of NAMBLA.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has been so warm and fuzzy with the gays as of late, displaying what passes for a progressive attitude in the Holy See. He famously questioned who was he to judge if a gay seeks the divine light of the Lord back in July. Then, earlier this month, a young French ‘mo claimed the Pope called him to reassure him that it was okay to be gay. While the Vatican denied that any such conversation took place, Franny did call for the Church and its followers to be more welcoming and less “small-minded” just last week.
So Reynolds’s strict punishment for supporting the inclusion of women priests and gays seems contrary to what Francis has been extolling these past few months. Of course, the pontiff never advocated for women to be included in the clergy so much as for people to give more props to Mary for birthing the Lord and all. But maybe Reynolds’s dismissal was just the Vatican’s way of getting out of that modest severance package they owe Reynolds.
Reynolds was penniless when he resigned as a priest and was later offered a $5000 payout for 32 years of service. The standard amount is $1500 per annum, coming to a grandiose grand total of $48,000. Negotiations are still ongoing, or the Vatican could just send him one of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s couture bath robes and call it even.