An excommunicated Catholic priest has rejected claims he gave Communion to a dog, an assertion backed by the Melbourne Archbishop.
Former priest Greg Reynolds, 60, was removed from the clerical state and excommunicated on September 18, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
The decision to remove Reynolds from the clerical state and excommunicate him came "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," a letter to priests in the Melbourne Archdiocese read.
He is also accused of giving the holy sacrament to a dog during Mass.
When asked by Fr John Salvano if he gave Communion to a dog, he told the canon lawyer that he did not.
"I did not give a consecrated host to any dog or any animal and never would," Reynolds told NCR in a Sept. 24 email.
In an email to NCR, Archbishop Denis Hart seems to confirm Reynolds account of what transpired.
"From media reports, the archdiocese is aware of the presence of Reynolds where the sacred species were given by another person to an animal. That anyone would feed the Eucharist to an animal is an abomination," Hart said.
Reynolds resigned from active ministry in August 2011 and founded a community called inclusive Catholics. The aim of the organization was to create a safe space for Catholics feeling disenfranchised by the Church to celebrate the Eucharist. A story published in an Australian newspaper in August 2012 about Reynolds and the community claimed a dog had received Communion at one of their liturgies.
The story, published in The Age claimed that a first time visitor to the groups mass arrived late with his German shepherd. During Communion the man reportedly broke off a piece of his host and gave it to his dog.
Reynolds told NCR he found out about the incident after the mass.
"Only a few people observed it, including the journalist," he said.
In a letter to the editor, Harte responded to the report in which he said giving an animal holy Communion is "an abomination."
Reynolds told NCR he had no contact with church officials until “the bombshell last week” when he was excommunicated.
"All they had to do was ask; there are witnesses [to the dog incident]," he said.
"Something seems to have got lost in transit and translation. I would dearly love to know what was Pope Francis told."