Pope Francis Excommunicates Priest for Supporting Women, LGBT People

All this talk of a progressive new Pope may have been jumping the gun.

Writing for the National Catholic Reporter, Brian Roewe reported this week that Pope Francis has excommunicated an Australian priest from the Church for his liberal values and activism. Fr. Greg Reynolds publicly supports LGBT rights, marriage equality and women’s ordination, three big no-nos in Catholic tradition. (We reported on Reynolds’ dismissal from the church the other day, but at the time, Pope Francis’ role wasn’t exactly clear.)

Father Greg Reynolds (Angela Wylie – The Age)

Here’s the Vatican’s “explanation” behind its decision, according to NCR:

“Accuses Reynolds of heresy (Canon 751) and determined he incurred latae sententiae excommunication for throwing away the consecrated host or retaining it “for a sacrilegious purpose” (Canon 1367). It also referenced Canon 1369 (speaking publicly against church teaching) in its review of the case. Pope Francis, Supreme Pontiff having heard the presentation of this Congregation concerning the grave reason for action … of [Fr. Greg Reynolds] of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, all the preceding actions to be taken having been followed, with a final and unappealable decision and subject to no recourse, has decreed dismissal from the clerical state is to be imposed on said priest for the good of the Church.”

Reynolds, however, doesn’t see such “grave reason for action” in his liberal practices as a priest. In fact, he says the Church’s statement actually gives little reason for its decision:

Father Reynolds told Australia’s The Age he had expected to be laicised (defrocked), but not excommunicated.

“In times past excommunication was a huge thing, but today the hierarchy have lost such trust and respect,” he said. “I’ve come to this position because I’ve followed my conscience on women’s ordination and gay marriage. The Vatican never contacted me, and it gives no explanation.”

As The Atlantic points out, Reynolds isn’t exactly a first-time offender, and his “crimes” include more than simple statements of support for women and LGBT people. Does that mean he deserved to be excommunicated? Certainly not. Ironically, his list of accomplishments actually makes him sound like a priest I’d like to get to know:

The priest’s advocacy goes a beyond a statement of support for female ordination. Reynolds is the founder of Inclusive Catholics, which advocates for women’s ordination and for a reform of the church’s teaching on homosexuality. He resigned from his parish ministry to lead the group (but not from the priesthood), providing a further reason for the church to seek him out for censure.

While excommunication might seem a punishment reserved only for truly heinous acts within the Church — pedophilia, for example — it’s becoming more common for members of the clergy to be kicked out for their progressive-ish beliefs. A Maryknoll priest named Roy Bourgeois was “dispensed” last year for advocating for women’s ordination, and just this past July a Brazilian priest named Roberto Francisco Daniel was booted for supporting same-sex marriage, open marriages and divorce.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that Francis is merely following in Pope Benedict XVI‘s footsteps. In 2008, that Pope decreed that ordination of a female priest was grounds for immediate excommunication, perpetuating women’s exclusion from much of the Church. While Francis has been lauded recently (present company somewhat included, I admit) for expressing a bit more tolerance for women and LGBT people in the Church, he doesn’t seem to be practicing what he preaches. All that talk is nice, and it’s worth acknowledging, but actions like this one prove that this Pope certainly isn’t as open-minded as we want him to be. He’s still bounded by his Catholicism.

The conditions of his excommunication mandate that Reynolds may no longer hold any position in the church hierarchy or participate in Mass. He can, however, remain Catholic — but at this point, I’m having a hard time seeing why he would want to.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • Lando

    Misread “The conditions of his excommunication mandate that Reynolds may no longer hold any position in the church hierarchy or participate in Mass.”
    ‘He can’t hang out in Massachusetts? Seems pretty harsh. Oh, wait… THAT mass.’

  • the moother

    I never doubted for a second that Uncle Frank’s words were anything but:
    1) just words, not sincerely meant or felt
    2) a smokescreen behind which to hide the stupidity of the church

  • flyb

    “He can, however, remain Catholic — but at this point, I’m having a hard time seeing why he would want to.”

    Given the rampant sexism and homophobia in the Catholic church, I can’t see why many women and gays continue to remain Catholic. It’s a conundrum.

  • Bitter Lizard

    I can’t help but take a certain satisfaction in seeing all the “I love my liberal Pope” delusions shot down as I knew they inevitably would be. If you read anything a loyal, conservative Catholic has written about the Pope’s comments, they weren’t fooled for a second.

    • pictor

      He’s still a fairly liberal pope (at least in comparison), but church dogma is what it is. Saying “gays are decent people, and we shouldn’t judge” isn’t against dogma as such (depends on interpretation I guess), but a priest saying “gays should be able to marry and women should be priests” is 100% black and white against dogma. That’s too far, even for Francis.

      This article doesn’t surprise me at all…and I would have expected no less. I still think Francis is one of the best things to happen to the papacy in a while, but it’s a case of bringing a ghost of progress to the institution. Expecting is a complete reinvention of the whole church is more than we will ever see out of one pope.

      • Bitter Lizard

        I reject the idea that our standards for religious people are so low now that when we see a wolf in sheep’s clothing, we’re supposed to gush about what a nice outfit he’s wearing. Whether this means I’m giving them too much credit or too much blame, I don’t know.

        • pictor

          No one is gushing. A lot of people are expressing a measure of guarded admiration for the good he has done. There is nothing wrong with that. We can respect what he has done right, and condemn what he continues to do wrong.

          • Bitter Lizard

            I don’t think I disagree with any of the words you just said (except I would call some of what I’ve seen “gushing”), but the idea that we should praise anyone for being marginally less terrible than another terrible person just rubs me the wrong way. Should we praise al-Qaeda leaders for being slightly less terroristy than their predecessors? The Catholic Church doesn’t need to be “reformed”, it needs to be diminished and undermined at every turn. And so does the Pope.

            • Olive Markus

              I completely agree with you. Saying the same thing with nicer words doesn’t change the meaning.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          The problem is that the media is filled with formerly religious people (often Catholic as the news media is headquartered in NYC) who are nostalgic for a church of their childhood that never was but disgusted by the church is it actually is. they latch on to things like the pope’s statement last week and publicize it blindly without much thought because regurgitating what you are told without actually thinking about whether or not it’s true is what religion is all about.

          • Bitter Lizard

            The liberal theists and conciliatory atheists were definitely the worst offenders. Hardcore Catholics and hardcore atheists tended to know better. Religion is a lot like politics in this way–the “undecided”, “moderate” voters are generally the low-information voters.

      • The Other Weirdo

        How many popes does it take to screw in a light bulb to light up the darkness of their dogma?

        • 3lemenope

          I think the over/under is seven.

        • pictor

          Honestly? Several.

          Francis is important in that he might, MIGHT begin a shift in the general attitudes of Catholics around the world. If catholics in general start to shift their attitudes towards women, members of the LBGT community, atheists and other non-catholics, that is something. I will give him no more credit that he has earned, but I will give him that much.

          A billion people. A billion people with generations of traditions and old school Catholicism. Maybe attitudes like this, will breed more priests such as we see in the article. More priests that try and speak out, more churchgoers that create a pressure that future popes will have to at least attempt to follow that trend.

          Or maybe they will backslide entirely with the next pope…who knows. I for one will try a little cautious optimism, but it’s an optimism with a limit.

          • Nox

            That is a good point.

            I’ll reserve being impressed with this pope until he uses his papal office to actually change the policies or doctrines of the church.

            But these statements are a dramatic departure from the kind of sh*t Benedict would have said. If they change the mentality of the church to a more accepting one, that alone could have some positive results (the flip side of this being that a more progressive catholic church will stay in power longer and as long as there is a catholic church it will be working to stifle progress). If the church were merely less vocal about its condemnation of gays, women and heretics, the lives of many people would be improved.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      But will this get the mainstream news coverage that the “look the pope said something kinda sorta progressive that will be retracted in the same news cycle” hoopla received? Of course not. And most people will continue to believe the “hey the new pope is more liberal” PR blitz without knowing what a big lie it really is.

  • The Other Weirdo

    It’s becoming more and more apparent that Francis is merely following in Pope Benedict XVI‘s footsteps.

    Really? I assumed from the start he would simply put on a less harsh face than his predecessor and look not quite like Emperor Palpatine.

    • Tor

      It’s not working…. He may be “prettier” but the theology is still the same old theology

      • 3lemenope

        Yeah, except expecting him to change the theology is like expecting the US president to pass laws.

        That’s not the way it works.

  • Art_Vandelay

    That dude looks pretty pissed about it too considering that this is only like the greatest thing that ever could have happened to him.

  • http://ronebofh.livejournal.com/ rone

    “Does that mean he deserved to be excommunicated? Certainly not.” Why exactly does a “friendly atheist” site weigh in on whether a church deservedly or not threw someone out of their make-believe club? This is like someone who hates football arguing over whether a holding call was deserved.

    • flyb

      The NFL doesn’t attempt to get their crazy rules adopted into the laws of the government in various ways. So we are interested in what the Catholics are up to, especially their hypocritical antics.

      • 3lemenope

        The NFL doesn’t attempt to get their crazy rules adopted into the laws of the government in various ways.

        Except, of course, for the general mockery of antitrust laws that their existence represents, and of course their impressive ability to sneeze and cause a taxpayer-funded sports stadium to be built, you know, wherever.

        • flyb

          Ha! Yeah, well, there’s that.

      • http://ronebofh.livejournal.com/ rone

        Let me know when any country passes laws that strips the rights of the excommunicated.

        • TurelieTelcontar

          Actually, may I present to you the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation? From 1220 to quite probably 1812 excommunication from the Catholic Church led to an imperial ban (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_ban) within six weeks of excommunication, without additional court proceedings, and allowed anyone to kill that person, without having to fear consequences.

          Just pointing out that it’s not all that improbable.

          • http://ronebofh.livejournal.com/ rone

            Well, golly, by that standard, we can expect the Inquisition to return any day now, too.

            • 3lemenope

              You never expect them.

          • http://ronebofh.livejournal.com/ rone

            Yes, all we need is a time machine and BOOM! The excommunicated will totally be screwed in the H.R.E.!

    • Art_Vandelay

      Even if we do have every right in the world to weigh in, I would argue in fact that he absolutely deserves to be excommunicated. As an employer, if you have an employee going around speaking in direct conflict with your policies and values, you are absolutely 100% justified in firing that person. Just because their policies and values happen to be archaic and oppressive, shouldn’t change that one bit. Either own it, or find a new job.

      • Itarion

        That would be defrocking, rather than excommunication. Defrocking was, as said, fully expected. Excommunication is more like an employee who gets fired, and then banned from the store, for the same actions unbecoming of a representative of said store.

        • http://ronebofh.livejournal.com/ rone

          So the Pope went overboard, maybe. Again, so *what*? What’s it to us non-Catholics? I can’t even imagine why a Protestant would give a rat’s ass about this.

          • Itarion

            Because His Excellency is the head of a large foreign governmental body, with significant impact on the world at large. His actions and opinions have a real and significant impact on the world at large. We care about what he does for similar reasons to why we care about what North Korea does, or China does. The Pope has power, so somebody needs to watch what he’s doing with it.

            • http://ronebofh.livejournal.com/ rone

              Let’s keep an eye on what he has for breakfast, too, then.

              • 3lemenope

                That would make sense if what he had for breakfast wasn’t almost certainly adiaphoric under the vast majority of circumstances. When he starts having veal sausages glazed with baby fat garnished with grapes picked by starving immigrant families, that might change.

                You are spending, on this thread, a truly impressive amount of mental effort to avoid the rather simple point being made. People, for the obvious reason of the RCC being the largest elephant in any room anywhere on Earth, are wanting to suss out whether there’s any meat to the kinder, gentler tone that Il Papa is pumping out on all media channels. This matters because as much as tone is important, policies (and those the Church is willing to spend its immense resources in realizing) matter more. If there’s a mismatch, it’s worth pointing out.

                If you don’t personally care, more power to you. This article isn’t for you. But it isn’t “weak sauce” or anything of the sort, merely on a topic of concern that you don’t share.

                • http://ronebofh.livejournal.com/ rone

                  That’s fair. I think that it’s perhaps all too plain to me that the new Pope is easily a kinder, gentler pope than his predecessor, which is a very low bar to clear. But i didn’t think for a minute that his calls for tolerance meant a damn thing until he actively started making them a matter of canon. That hasn’t happened, and i don’t expect them to happen. So i would say that the original post only served as a sort of “OW! FIRE HOT!” warning. But, as you say, it seems that i’m simply not part of the audience for it, so i’ll just move along.

    • Itarion

      I would say it’s more like someone weighing in on the most recent fines and suspensions levied against someone for their most recent touchdown dance.

    • Edmond

      It WOULD be, if the NFL commisioner had announced that they should stop focusing on holding so much, and then a player was completely banned from ever playing again, just for supporting someone ELSE’S holding, while not actually committing any holding themselves. Even a football hater might want to comment on THAT hypocrisy.

    • Sven2547

      Wouldn’t it be nice if the Roman Catholic Church was just a “club”?
      It’s not, though. It’s a political powerhouse. A massive, hilariously corrupt, fabulously wealthy international organization that holds itself to be the supreme Earthly arbiter of right and wrong. What they do matters, and when they do wrong, it’s important to draw attention to it.

      Your comment is deeply ironic: YOU aren’t very fond of this blog, yet YOU seem to think you’re qualified to criticize it just fine. Double standards much?

      • http://ronebofh.livejournal.com/ rone

        Uh, that isn’t a double standard. I am, in fact, an atheist *and* an ex-Catholic, so this is completely in my wheelhouse, but thanks for the poorly conceived analogy.

        The Church’s worldwide power has nothing to do with this guy’s excommunication. It’s not like he’ll be turned away from a supermarket or clothing store because he was excommunicated. He can’t go to Mass anymore. It might be a big deal to him; again i ask, why is it a big deal *here*? Just to dump on the pope? It’s completely weaksauce.

        • Sven2547

          The Church’s worldwide power has nothing to do with this guy’s excommunication.

          But it DOES have to do with expressing an opinion on the matter, which is exactly the objection you raised. What the Pope does is a big deal. When the Pope does something unethical, that’s still a big deal.

          again i ask, why is it a big deal *here*?

          Because maybe Hemant (and people like him) give a damn about ethics. Why can’t that be enough for you?

          • http://ronebofh.livejournal.com/ rone

            Ha, yeah, the concern here is the Pope’s ethics, you keep telling yourself that.

            • Deus Otiosus

              Uh yeah, it is. The point of the article and the discussion here in the comments is that, of late, there’s been a lot of buzz about Jorge being a “new hope” of Vatican liberalism. Some (certainly not all) have been hoping his inclusive comments have been indicative of a change in direction for the Vatican which is a political force that affects us all. This article is pointing out the the new boss bears a striking resemblance to the previous boss and, as such, should be noted and commented on as it bears directly on our perception of the Vatican and the pope. It suggests that acceptance of LGBT, women, and atheists has been premature.

              • http://ronebofh.livejournal.com/ rone

                Ah, i see, people are eager to play the part of Captain Obvious, then. Carry on.

    • baal

      The RCC holds itself out as holy and good and the foundation of morality. If we are to believe them, then whoever they throw out should have moral problems. That’s rarely the cases. Instead, they throw out those who do not obey. It would then seem that the church values obedience more than it values the rights of children to not be raped.

      I think that’s entirely appropriate a topic for discussion. Now, if the FA did a story saying we should believe that there are black hat lizard men secretly running the RCC or the USGOV or some other conspiracy tied up with religion piece, then your point would be more apt.

  • Nox

    This pope was hired to reform the church’s image. Not to reform the church. For all his well advised photo ops, he hasn’t changed any policies at all.

    Note that in his much lauded statements from last week he didn’t say being gay was okay and the church no longer condemns it. He said being seen as hateful was bad for the church’s reputation and they should focus less on condemning homosexuality and contraception.

    • ZenDruid

      In other words, it is right and proper to condemn homosexuality and contraception very graciously and discreetly.

      • Tor

        It is right and proper so to do.

    • JuneAbend

      Nox, your first two sentences above just made me realize that this guy is the Gorbachev of the Papacy…i.e. an insider made to look like something new, in a large, repressive organization going through major changes. He puts the Poe in Pope.

  • bananafaced

    Too many old guys with mindsets firmly entrenched in “late medieval times” run the Catholic Church. If they want to attract young people into their flock, they are going to have to open the clergy to women, support LGBT rights, and bring the Vatican into the 21st Century. Kinda hard to do when all your mates are old and dressed in robes that make them look like they stepped out of a movie set in the 15th century.

    • Tor

      They also claim to be an unchanging institution. Not much hope for recovery there.

  • invivoMark

    “Does that mean he deserved to be excommunicated? Certainly not.”

    What, you don’t think he’s good enough? Has he done some horrible things that make him unworthy of that honor and privilege?

    He sure sounds like someone who deserves a free pass out of that nasty, immoral criminal organization to me!

  • LesterBallard

    I don’t care about how “liberal” this pope is, I don’t care what changes he might make in the RCC. I want it’s influence to disappear; and I want its massive wealth to be put to good, practical use.

    • anniewhoo

      Personally, I think popes like Benedict are better for the world. Benedict’s white knuckles clinging to the Code of Canon Law drove Catholics away in droves. The Vatican isn’t stupid, and they know how to market their product better than any other organized religion. I think Francis was chosen to calm down all of the liberal Catholics, but honestly, there is only so much talk can do. Tonight’s email from Catholics United, however, showed that he successfully sucked them in and gave liberal Catholics hope for a different Church in the future. I hope none of them are holding their breath.

  • Brian Daugherty

    yup still a bigoted pasty white piece of shit in a funny hat.

    • Bob

      Why is his race relevant? If he was black, would you be calling him ‘swarthy’? His skin color has nothing to do with his bigoted opinions, anymore than his gender or his age, so please leave it out. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of anti-gay Catholics of color.

      • Tor

        Ok. He’s just a bigoted piece of shit in a funny hat.

        • Steve Willy

          Maybe you are just a bigoted piece of shit period, you Hitchens-Dawkins parroting basement dwelling megadouche. Yours is a petty, trivial, localized, earth bound philosophy, unworthy of the universe.

          • RobMcCune

            Maybe you are just a bigoted piece of shit period,

            When automaton steve willy goes off script, the best it can manage is “I am rubber, you are glue.”

            • 3lemenope

              “I am rubber, you are glue.”

              …and my, aren’t these fascinating organic substances!

      • Brian Daugherty

        IF you think the white privilege complex doesn’t exist among the catholic church elites you are blind.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    As a progressive Christian, I am certainly saddened by this new.

    But “Roma non e stata fata in uno giorno” “Rom was not made in one day”, I am looking at the progression and believe he is a promising pope.

    Friendly greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

    • Bitter Lizard

      Reply to this if you aren’t just spamming us with your blog again.

      • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

        Reply to what?

        I am disappointed by the attitude of the pope but also think he is progressive.

        So I have hope that in the future there will be new changes :-)

        Atheists rightly reproach to believers to stay among themselves and avoid confrontation.

        I am welcoming open conversations and challenges.

        Friendly greetings from Europe.

        Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

        http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

        • Bitter Lizard

          So you actually do sometimes read responses to your posts–kudos for that. The problem is, that was nowhere near evident last time I saw you here, and anyone can click on your name and see that you mostly hop from blog-to-blog to advertise your own. People might be a little more interested in giving you clicks if you stuck around to engage more often.

          • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

            Thanks for your answer.

            I am genuinely seeking to foster discussions between people from different perspectives and I am fed up with this culture war raging in the English-speaking world.
            With my blog I try to bring up alternative perspectives about topics many people are passionate about.

            I am well aware that my opinions are EXTREMELY faillible, limited and also evolving and that I have a lof of progresses to achieve in many domains.
            But it is my hope there will be a springboard for helping people make up their own mind (and probably transcend my own thoughts).

            If somneone is bothered by my signature I will certainly remove it.

            But I fail to see why GENERALLY it is always wrong to attach a signature given the fact that people gave me positive feedbacks and told me I gave them food for thoughts.

            I orient myself according to the Golden Rule. If someone post a comment on my blog, is genuinely interested in the topic I’ve adressed but also attach his or her signature I would not feel annoyed at all.

            As I posted my short comment here, my goal was certainly not to win fans (since I know the overwhelming majority of folks strongly disagree with me) but to contribute to the debate: is religion inevitably evil and unable of change?
            Insatead of focusing on all the bad stuff in the Catholic Church, could we not acknowledge the clear progresses which are taking place?

            I am interested in truth and loving human exchanges. I have also spent hours writting private emails with bloggers which I will NEVER publish just for the sake of the conversation.

            As a human being I am far from being perfect and even extremely flawed in many respects but I am not trying to exalt my own person.

            So even if I am most likely a spammer, I am probably not the most immoral one who is living under the sun.

            lotharlorraine@gmail.com
            http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

            • Anna

              I’m curious what makes you think the Pope is progressive.

              Insatead of focusing on all the bad stuff in the Catholic Church, could we not acknowledge the clear progresses which are taking place?

              What examples of progress are there? Do you think the Pope is going to change Catholic doctrine? He hasn’t changed the church’s position on women’s ordination, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, the idea of sin and hell, or anything else.

              • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

                Alas that’s true enough and I hope and pray he will gather the courage to do this.

                That said I don’t agree with your entire list.

                I would leave Reproductive Rights out of it: while abortion should certainly be LEGALLY allowed, I fail to see how one can consider the killing of a future human to be a good thing.
                In Europe, widespread abortion is causing huge demographic problems and the rapid relative increase of the Muslim population.

                I find the marriage of two commited gay people really great!

                But it is delusory to deny the reality of sins in our lives.

                Eternal hell sucks both philosophically and theologically.
                But God will never force someone who does not truly desires Him to spend the eternity in His presence.

                I know you probably feel outraged but I just state what I think, for the sake of honesty, even if this won’t make me very popular here.

  • joe smith

    Do what many Gay-positive catholics have been doing for ages: become an ex-catholic

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Really? All the gay-positive Catholics I know make excuses for their church but continue to go and give them money, part of which is used to fund anti-gay ballot initiatives. Hypocrisy like that is what religion is all about.

      • Tor

        Yup. You are right. Even my gay “catholic” friends. Yoiks.

  • David Pearce

    Given that the a previous name for the Congregation was the inquisition, I can’t help but think that this is a case of “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

  • Piotr Hencel

    That is only show what kind of people we are dealing, they say something else, do something else, for example today they don`t kill people at the stake and not a witch-hunt, but if they could… Well, this is called like hipocrisy, and they never will change.

    • Tor

      No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

  • SabsDkPrncs

    He was previously warned for giving alternate forms of the Eucharist. Wonder what that was. Gluten-free body of Christ? Non-alcoholic blood?

  • Librepensadora

    “Why am I not surprised? I think I’ll have a heart attack and DIE from NOT SURPRISE.” (spoken by the parrot in Disney’s “Aladdin.”)

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Iago.

      best. line. ever.

  • Cattleya1

    It took them up to 20 years to defrock some of the child rapists they were finally forced to rid themselves of, but (correct me if I am wrong) they didn’t excommunicate them… This guy advocates a rather mild heresy which would solve a lot of problems for them and he gets the express treatment. Why would installing a new old, celibate man in the papacy change anything about the church?

    • Tor

      No no no. The heresy advocated by the Father is much much worse than fucking little children.

  • A3Kr0n

    I love that picture of him!

  • Darric

    Rape a kid, meh, they will just move you. Support women’s and homosexual rights, and they ban you from their special club.
    Why am I not surprised?

    • Tor

      Ban you from their social club – excommunication means a one-way ticket to hell, for those who believe in it.

  • Paula M Smolik

    Why is this a story? A closed group with certain rules kicks out a member for not following the rules. Do you expect the Catholic church to change any time soon? I don’t. He’s better off. Maybe he can join the Episcopalians.

    • Mogg

      That’d be the Anglicans, over here.

  • james

    It was all a Publicity stunt?

  • alfaretta

    Francis has done one good thing that I can see — his talk about poverty is countering the influence of Ayn Rand Catholics. I don’t know how many Catholics will listen to him, but the way the poor are being demonized in this country, this is not a small thing.

  • Anna

    Does that mean he deserved to be excommunicated? Certainly not.

    According to the Catholic church, he absolutely deserves to be excommunicated. He’s going against Catholic doctrine, and he’s a leader (or former leader) in the religion, and they don’t want people in those positions to challenge the dogma.

    While excommunication might seem a punishment reserved only for truly heinous acts within the Church — pedophilia, for example — it’s becoming more common for members of the clergy to be kicked out for their progressive-ish beliefs.

    As far as I understand it, excommunication is meant to be a disciplinary measure. It’s a serious way to tell dissident Catholics that they’d better get back in line, or else there are going to be eternal consequences. There’s no point in excommunicating a repentant sexual predator because he already acknowledges he did something wrong. Defrock maybe, but not excommunicate. Progressive Catholics don’t agree they’re doing anything wrong by standing up for LGBT rights, reproductive rights, and women’s ordination, so excommunication is how the church tries to get their attention and send them a message.

  • guest

    Let’s invite him to become a discordian Pope.

    • DavidMHart

      Too late – he already is. And so is everyone reading this :-)

  • Olive Markus

    Cover up and turn a blind eye to child rape? PROMOTION

    Believe that women and LGBT are people, too? EXCOMMUNICATION

    Thanks, Catholic Church. I’ll totally consider your advice the next time I’m having a moral or ethical quandary.

    Really.

    • Miss_Beara

      I think about the Brazilian child who was raped by her step father and she had an abortion. She, her mother and the doctors were excommunicated but the child rapist wasn’t. Or the nurse nun who was excommunicated, she might have been reinstated but I am not sure, in Arizona for performing a late term abortion on a woman who was definitely going to die without one.

      Also, comparing women priests to child molesters but real child rapists in the church get to quietly move parishes!

      Stay classy Catholic Church.

      Edit : I forgot the liberal feminist nuns investigation as well. They weren’t discussing anti gay and women matters… investigation! Child rape? Meh… off you go to another parish. Oh, here is some money too.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Oh, the nun didn’t perform the abortion. She wasn’t a trained OB, just an administrator. She merely gave her permission on the ethics committee for the abortion to take place. And no, she hasn’t been reinstated because she’s refused to back down- she continues to insist (correctly) that she did the right thing.

        • Miss_Beara

          It is difficult to keep all of these anti choice stories straight.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            It is. They all blur together into a giant amalgamation of awful.

      • Olive Markus

        These things go a long way to define the awful that is the Catholic Church for me. They believe they are the sole moral light in this evil world and they can’t even get the basics right.

  • Lurkey

    Question, Why do atheist care with issues regarding CATHOLICISM?Is it so important with you that you post newsletter and makes commit concerning about the faithful and the curia?For all I know atheism is belonging not to any religion so why make a fuss about it?Or Maybe at the back of your minds you are searching for God and challenging the catholic faith and doctrine is your way of proving if your beliefs are right or wrong.Ask your self why are you interested with the Catholic Church?…Maybe not all of you will agree but try to ask your conscience.

    • Bitter Lizard

      Variations of this question have been asked probably hundreds of times here, and the answer is pretty obvious: atheists care about what theists believe and do because of something called consequences, which is evidently a novel concept to you.

      • Steve Willy

        Wrong answer neck beard boy, I think you tacitly know that its time for you to stfu. Yours is a petty, trivial, localized, earth bound philosophy, unworthy of the universe.

        • RobMcCune

          So says the petty trivial neckbeard steve willy.

        • Bitter Lizard

          Thank you for your brilliant response. Your logic is impeccable. It so clearly negates the idea that religious apologists are a bunch of mouth-breathing imbeciles.

          • Steve Willy

            Sweeping generalization much, neck beard boy? I thought atheists were supposed to be immune from logical fallacies? Every religious apologist is an imbecile because one vomment by one person failed to meet your subjective standards for intellectual ‘integrity.’

            • RobMcCune

              Sweeping generalization much,

              Actually there are much more generalizations coming from steve willy.

    • nakedanthropologist

      I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m interested because I’m a former Catholic and most of my family is still Catholic. The Catholic Church still has a great deal of political and monetary influence around the world, which transmits into social influence. Therefore, when the pope acts hypocritically or unethically it is of concern to me – and to many people.

    • alfaretta

      Injustice stinks no matter who’s administering it.

    • trj

      Given that half the world’s Christians are Catholics, why shouldn’t we be interested in what the Church says and does? In fact, how can we possibly avoid discussing the Catholic Church, given the combination of its large number of adherents and the hypocrisy and moral failings it so regularly displays?

    • Anna

      I care because the beliefs and actions of the Catholic church negatively affect the lives of people I love and care about. I think your religion teaches things that are false and immoral, and I think this belief system has a detrimental effect on society as a whole.

      • Steve Willy

        Thanks for the mindless pseudo-intellectual regurgitation of Hitchens-Dawkins parroting basement dwelling blather. I hope sophomore philosophy is going well for you so far.

        • Anna

          LOL, okay. Let me know if you something substantive to say.

        • RobMcCune

          Thanks for the mindless pseudo-intellectual regurgitation

          Don’t be so modest, you were the one doing most of it. Feel free to take the credit you deserve.

    • Miss_Beara

      Because the Catholic Church thinks everyone should follow Catholicism, even non Catholics. The Catholic Church is saying that I shouldn’t be allowed to take birth control or have an abortion even if my life is in danger. The Catholic Church is saying that LGBT shouldn’t be able to get married and they get compared to pedophiles. That is why we care and follow the news regarding Catholicism.

      • Steve Willy

        Wrong answer, neck beard girl. I think you tacitly know that its time for you to stfu.

        • 3lemenope

          You have an obsession with neck beards. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m not judging.

          Weirdo.

          • Anna

            Poe?

            • RobMcCune

              Nah, this is what he does and all he does.

              • DavidMHart

                Actually, that’s not quite true. I kind of almost got him to make an intellectual argument for his case the other day – when challenged to explain why one should believe in a god despite the utter lack of evidence, he presented the case that gods are by definition immune to empirical evidence, and their existence can only be determined by philosophy (but their non-existence can’t, apparently) – but I didn’t get much out of him until we were back to neckbeard this and megadouche that.

                Assuming he is sincere, he’s quite a character: it’s like he realises on some level that atheists are starting to win the argument, and that if he wants to defend his religion, he’s going to have to actually make an intellectual defense of it, but on another level he’s driven to such visceral fury by the existence of people who disagree with him that the impulse to throw playground insults overwhelms his ability to actually present an argument.

                [Edit - and if he isn't sincere ... then he has a hobby that is far weirder than merely having an obsession with neckbeards]

            • 3lemenope

              Well, the insults are not only bizarre but are rather lacking otherwise in content.

              So, really slovenly troll, or Poe.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Okay, what the fuck is a “neckbeard”?

            • Fred

              Ummmm. Dont Hate Me, I couldn’t resist. :)

              http://bit.ly/16N3TcD

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                …and that’s supposed to be an insult?

                • Heidi McClure

                  Maybe he’s calling us Amish?

                • Fred

                  It doesn’t seem to be that much of one.
                  Putting down someone on the internet based on their supposed physical appearance seems dumb as hell to me.

                • Mogg

                  Possibly the worst insult ever. Seriously? “Neckbeard girl”?! Sounds like a character from Mystery Men.

    • baal

      hrm, i’ve just started this thread and there are 3 nyms making this same point. I don’t think the coverage on this one is that strange a thing.

    • Heidi McClure

      As soon as they stop trying to change laws affecting my bodily autonomy, and get their faces out of people’s bedrooms, I’ll stop caring what they do.

  • aoscott

    I feel for the guy, even though excommunication seems trivial, to him, it’s a huge deal. I remember being taught that it was done to the worst of the worst, done to someone who has not only strayed from Jesus’ teachings, but has denounced them.

  • Steve Willy

    Since you all believe that both the excommunicated priest and the Pope who excommunicated him are deluded belivers in imaginary Bronze Age Skymen, to be taken no more seriously than Zeus and Thor, I’m not really seeing how Neckbeardom has a dog in this fight. Put another way, don’t your gods of reason and logic command you to simply stfu about certain issues? Or is this specious crap just another symptom of atheism being incoherent?

    • RobMcCune

      The bigger question is what makes steve so incoherent.

      • baal

        It’s steve’s unusually large and full neckbeard. The animals housed therein have a habit of climbing over Steve’s face in little jaunts now and again. It’s really preventing Steve from keeping it together long enough to be coherant but he just won’t give the damn thing up.

      • Heidi McClure

        He’s talking out his willy.

    • baal

      My atheist handbook doesn’t ask me to STFU. How about the RCC excommunicate the former pope for not disclosing to authorities about all the child abuse he knew about?

      • Itarion

        Or perhaps excommunicate the former Pope for resigning without a serious controversy over who’s in charge, a literally unprecedented action?

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Jesus loves you despite your bitter, festering rage, projection, and inability to form an argument that doesn’t rely on the fantasy that other people are stupider than you.

    • Brooklyn_Reader

      I fear you missed the most important “god” of atheists, Ethics. Because atheists believe neither in predetermination, divine guidance, nor guardian angels, they tend to concentrate very closely on the ethics conveyed to, held by, and practiced by people. In the view of atheists, we are the only force for good or evil. We are the only ones who make peace or war. We are the only ones who build institutions, or who can uphold equality. We are the only ones who bring love to the world. And we are the only ones who can forgive the sins of our brothers and sisters.

      (By the way, I’m a Quaker, and we get the best of both worlds. We believe God gives us these gifts and this Love and lends us this Light, but the rest is still up to us. I’ll take an ethical atheist for a friend over a devout hypocrite any day of the week.)

  • Meagan_Dawkins

    Your headline is not true. If you had read the Vatican’s explanation closely, you would have seen that they had determined that he had incurred latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication for desecrating the Eucharist. In other words, the Church didn’t excommunicate him for his support of gay marriage and woman’s ordination. He excommunicated himself by his actions against the Eucharist. The Church did defrock him as a priest but they did not excommunicate him.

    • http://crissa.twu.net/ Crissa

      Really? It’s the lamest excuse on earth. He’s effin’ the cookies? Honestly?

  • Bren

    I am not of the Catholic faith but I love the Pope just the same for he is a child of God. Everyone could live a liberal life as long as it does not contradict the word of God. Although the Pope was identified as a liberal he stood on holy ground to show the word of God has the final say. The action he has taken was not just for the church but to honor God to say he will be obedient to him as long as he shall live. Praise God that the Pope decided to honor God and his holy word.

  • uncleRick74

    .. I believe the act of ‘desecration of the Host’ was a much bigger element in this than is given weight to in the article.. a number of other unanswered questions bother me.. he just got here, fer Chrissake.. you don’t turn over two millenia of tradition overnight.. I’m very encouraged by what he’s said and done so far…


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