.- A priest from the Diocese of Phoenix has been excommunicated for joining a breakaway sect, it was announced on Monday.
The excommunication of Rev. Chris Carpenter, who had been on leave from the diocese for three years, was issued in April but made public on Monday. According to the Arizona Republic, Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmstead said the decision came because Father Carpenter had joined an offshoot church, the Reformed Catholic Church.
Father Carpenter is banned from participating in Mass, Communion or other religious ceremonies either as a participant or a celebrant. He was well-known as the movie reviewer for the Catholic Sun newspaper. Citing health reasons, he took a leave of absence in 2006 after 10 years at Christ the King parish in Mesa, Arizona.
Rev. Carpenter, who is openly homosexual, has long disputed with the diocesan leadership over ministry to the homosexual community, the Arizona Republic reports.
In an e-mail to friends, Father Carpenter said the Reformed Catholic Church supports ordination of women, full participation of homosexual members and a married priesthood. He reportedly plans to begin a parish in California.
Rev. Gene Young, another former Phoenix priest excommunicated by Bishop Olmsted, is also a member of the church.
A third priest of the diocese, Monsignor Dale Fushek, was excommunicated last year.