|Father Greg Reynolds: Defrocked and excommunicated over his support for women priests and gays. |
Photo: Angela Wylie
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.
The 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.
Father 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.
According to church teaching, excommunication is the strongest sanction and means one can not hold any office or receive any sacraments. Being laicised means one is no longer a priest.
Fairfax Media understands that the only other Melbourne priests laicised against their will have been notorious paedophiles.
Archbishop Hart was widely criticised after his appearance at the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled child sexual abuse when he replied to a question about why it took the church 18 years to ask the Vatican to defrock paedophile Desmond Gannon: ''Better late than never.''
As with the removal of Bishop Bill Morris from Toowoomba, the Vatican moved much more swiftly on Father Reynolds over women priests.