Archbishop Dennis Hart’s Statement on Excommunicated Priest

25 September 2013

Advice has been received from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the decision by Pope Francis to dismiss Fr Greg Reynolds from the clerical state and to declare his automatic excommunication.

Fr Reynolds resigned in August 2011 as the Parish Priest of Westernport Parish and as a priest of the Archdiocese which resignation was accepted by me. However, after his resignation and my withdrawal of his priestly faculties, he continued to conduct public celebrations of the Eucharist and to preach contrary to the teachings of the Church.

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.

Excommunication means that he is forbidden to have a ministerial role in the celebration of any sacraments or acts of public worship, receive any sacrament, exercise any Church ministry or hold any office in the Church.

Fr Reynolds has been informed of the decision of the Holy Father and has signed acceptance of the Decree.

The Pope, and all Bishops in communion with him, are responsible for promoting and defending the Catholic faith, which at times includes taking disciplinary action against ordained ministers of the Church who publicly present and maintain positions which are in contradiction of central teachings of the Church.

Such action is never taken without due consideration of all the circumstances and having first of all attempted to persuade the cleric to return to adherence to the Catholic faith he committed himself to publicly uphold. On this occasion, I sought in a spirit of pastoral and fraternal concern to encourage Greg Reynolds to cease his activities contrary to the teachings of the Church but without success.