Sunday, 10 November 2013

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: the Reynolds saga updated

There is a strange story in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald that provides even more context on the lead up to ex-Fr Greg Reynolds of Melbourne's laicization and excommunication (and gives me and Fr Ray Blake a mention as well!).

The article contains lots of faux outrage from people claiming Reynolds was hard done by despite his refusal to actually obey the rules of the institution which he purported to represent as a priest.

It is one of those stories that one assumes is meant to garner sympathy for him and his 'Inclusive Catholics'.

In reality the story surely does the opposite, raising questions about how he ever managed to get ordained in the first place, and then why he was allowed to stay in the priesthood for so long.

An atheist priest?

Fr Z has drawn attention to one shocking part of the story, namely that ex-Fr Reynolds apparently entered the seminary not actually believing in God:

He enjoyed it [the seminary] and began to think that he could be a priest. "But it's a bit awkward if you don't believe in God," he says laughing. "So I gave God, if She's [sic] out there, a bit of time, saying, 'You're going to have to sort this out because I can't go on here indefinitely.' "

This was of course the notorious era of Archbishop Little, where the seminarians didn't even have daily Mass; when traditionally inclined seminarians were given the boot; and where the seminary was a training ground for a disturbing number of sexual abuser priests.

According to the article Reynolds did go on to develop some vague sense of belief in God - but not perhaps an actually Christian one, since he apparently regularly inserted 'in the name of the Mother' in place 'in the name of the Father' into his Masses!

How then did he even get ordained?

And why wasn't he disciplined earlier?

Disobedience and pride

The story chronicles a rather curious career that could perhaps have been a path to sanctity - a sudden appreciation of the cause of the poor, exploration of a monastic and then eremitical vocation - had it been coupled with genuine charity, an appreciation of the virtue of obedience, and genuine humility.

Instead though it lead him to  decide that he knew better than the Church what the Holy Spirit required when it comes to issues such as  homosexuality and the ordination of women, leading to his eventual exit.

Unfortunately the story doesn't end where the SMH leaves it.  Mr Reynolds may have been ex-communicated, but the group of 'Inclusive Catholics' he leads continues to operate.

Inclusive bishops?!

Indeed, a reader has forwarded me some emails to this group from Mr Reynolds which announce a series of wacky events, including something that sounds awfully like ancestor worship for All Saints day, and the purported 'ordination' of two notorious practising homosexuals, one as a 'priest' and one as a 'bishop' for the group:

"On October 20 our community shared a ritual in which we affirmed the ordinations of two of our long-term members, John Rolley and Michael Kelly. Both men are ordained in the Independent and Old Catholic traditions – John as a priest and Michael as a bishop. The entire gathered community laid hands on these brothers of ours, and as we affirmed their ordinations, we also called them to be sacramental ministers and spiritual leaders for us, along with me. This action also affirmed the role of the community in choosing and commissioning its priests and minsters – something that the Catholic community as a whole needs to recover.  John and Michael are both well qualified and very experienced in theology and ministry. Both are also openly gay men...."

 Archbishop Hart should perhaps consider declaring the excommunication on these two men in particular for simulation of a sacrament, and the group as a whole...


James said...

A good point with, in particular, your last paragraph. But has there been the slightest sign that the leaders of Sydney's notorious "Acceptance" church will undergo medicinal excommunication by that city's archdiocese?

No, I thought not. The "Acceptance" website, which your blog has rightly condemned before, is still going strong.

So is the increasing bizarre NSW Premier, who continues to style himself as some species of Catholic. Any sign of him being threatened with the denial of communion either? (Well, we can dream, can't we?)

Kate Edwards said...

Agreed James, I do find it hard to understand why Cardinal Pell continues to defend the Newtown Gay Mass even though similar events such as in Soho have finally been dealt with.

And why action hasn't been taken against pollies of all colours there and elsewhere.

And why no one has taken some of the bizarre comments Mr Abbott made in the leadup to the election - his commentary on not finding time to go to Mass regularly for example, even though he neglects he duties to go on assorted sporting and volunteer events for example I found quite scandalous.

The Australian Church is, alas, largely a middle class club, where mates get special 'rates'. Kind of like the rest of our corrupt society...