Fr. Ned Reidy, 69, former pastor of Christ of the Desert Roman Catholic parish, is being tried for heresy and schism. Alleged heresies include the denial of the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the validity of marriage only between man and woman. Alleged schism is based upon Reidy's subjection to the hierarchical claims of Mark Shirilau, "primate" of the Ecumenical Catholic Church, in defiance of the universal jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI.
The former pastor is reportedly being judged by an expert panel composed of three judges, all priests. It is unknown if the proceeding is being conducted in the form of an expedited administrative penal process, or the more lengthy judicial process or trial. Fr. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the diocese, stated: "Because of the confusion in not differentiating between his church and the Roman Catholic Church, the diocese felt we must proceed with this difficult action in order to make that distinction." The trial would "officially clarify his status within the Church," Lincoln stated.
Fr. Reidy, in refusing to retract his public denial of defined dogmata of divine and Catholic Faith, risks being declared as having automatically excommunicated himself. This means that the accused would be cut off from any hope of salvation, all the sacraments, and Christian burial according to Roman Catholic theology, until he were to publicly retract his grave errors, repent, and make amends.
Marc Balestrieri, JCL, canon lawyer and President of DE FIDE, thoroughly commends Bishop Gerald R. Barnes and his staff for the courage and moral fiber in applying criminal canon law in defense of the faithful. "Hopefully colleagues of Bishop Barnes in the episcopate will follow his example, and finally apply the disciplinary canons of the Code of Canon Law against heresy. If left unchecked as it has been for far too long, public contradiction of core tenets of the Faith will continue to wreak grave spiritual and physical harm upon the Church's members and other citizens in society."
Last year, DE FIDE filed denunciations for Heresy against five Catholics who publicly and notoriously continue to support the "Right-to-Murder" heresy, also known as the right to choose abortion: Senators John F. Kerry, Edward M. Kennedy, Susan Collins, Thomas Harkin, and Mr. Mario Cuomo. The equal enforcement of the Code of Canon Law's disciplinary provisions by their respective bishops is currently awaited.
In 1998, Pope Benedict XVI, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declared that the denial of the teaching of the Fifth Commandment condemning every direct and voluntary act of murder constitutes heresy.
(DE FIDE, a California non-profit specializing in the use of canon law against heresy, aims to stop the monumental scandal of baptized Catholics claiming in the public forum to be Christian while professing the life-threatening Right-to-Murder heresy.)