Two reminders: the recent excommunication of a priest who advocated the ordination of women and new rules that limit Roman Catholic military chaplains ministry to homosexual service members.
Catholic military chaplains cannot be forced to witness or bless a same-sex marriage, nor are they allowed to take part in any marriage counseling retreats that are open to gay couples under new rules issued by the Archdiocese for the Military Services.
The rules, sent to chaplains on Sept. 18 by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, head of the AMS, also bar chaplains from taking part in a funeral for a Catholic if that participation “would give the impression that the church approves of same sex ‘marital’ relationships.”
But the new rules also set out conditions that would allow Catholic military commanders to comply, without violating their beliefs, with rules giving same-sex couples under their command federal employee benefits as required by law.
An Australian priest vocal in his support of women's ordination has become the first person excommunicated for such beliefs under the papacy of Pope Francis.
Fr. Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia, told NCR by email late Monday night his initial reaction was "shock" upon learning of his separation from the church. Australian media have reported he is the first member of the Melbourne archdiocese excommunicated and the first priest from the area laicized for reasons other than pedophilia.
The news came Sept. 18 through a canon lawyer for the Melbourne archdiocese, Fr. John Salvano, who invited Reynolds a few weeks earlier to meet "to discuss 'some canonical issue,' " Reynolds said. The former priest said Salvano presented him the letter of excommunication and proceeded to read it to him, since Reynolds did not read Latin.
Part of the shock stemmed from uncertainty with who initiated the excommunication and laicization process. During the meeting, Salvano told Reynolds that while Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart previously considered beginning the laicization process, he had not gone forward with that plan. Instead, unknown people had contacted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which requested Reynolds' file from Hart.