You know, it was only a few days ago that I was posting on Facebook about how encouraged I was by the recent positions taken by Pope Francis. I went so far as to say that, from my non-Catholic perspective, he might be the best thing to happen to Catholicism since the end of the Crusades.
About Gay priests he said: “Who am I to judge?”
About Abortion and the gay community he said that it was too much of an “obsession” for the church.
Please don’t misunderstand my enthusiasm. From my socially liberal position I do not in any way consider the Pope’s statements a sufficient indicator of real change. I also understand that my socially liberal position is at odds with conservative religious positions that I may not accept but whose holders right to advocate for them, I respect. Woman’s equality, choice, gay rights, and other values that I hold will never be the positions of the Evangelical, Orthodox, or Catholic churches. Still, every step toward universal respect for equal rights, equal respect, and universal human dignity is a step forward; baby step though it may be.
So, I have to say that I’ve been truly encouraged by Pope Francis.
Unfortunately, it may be that I jumped the gun just a tad. You see, last week it turns out that Father Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia was informed that Pope Francis had excommunicated him with no explanation other than the generic “crime” of heresy through the violation of the sacrament of the Eucharist. He was shocked and he does not know why this occurred. It seems likely that the “heresy” results from Fr. Reynolds advocacy for women in the priesthood and for gay rights. It’s sadly ironic that, if this turns out to be the explanation, then Pope Francis seems to have just eaten all of his encouraging words. The next few days will, perhaps, tell.
In the mean time, all I can say is this: Excommunicated for heresy with no explanation? Perhaps we’re still closer to 1098 that I thought.