Three hermits living on a Scottish island have been excommunicated from the Catholic Church after accusing Pope Francis of heresy in an online declaration.
The Black Hermits, who live on the island of Westray in Orkney — Father Stephen de Kerdrel, Sister Colette Roberts, and Brother Damon Kelly — were informed of their excommunication from the Catholic Church on Christmas Day in a written notice from the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles.
“In April, the group wrote to Bishop McGee to say they intended to withdraw their ‘obedience from Pope Francis and sever communion with the Holy See,’” a spokesman for the diocese told the BBC.
“The bishop advised them that their actions would incur automatic excommunication and urged them to reconsider and made several offers of dialogue, all of which were refused. As a result, the penalty of excommunication now applies,” he said.
The diocesan bishop, Brian McGee, reportedly wrote to the Hermits when he learned of their intent to sever communion with Rome, warning them of the consequences and urging them to reconsider.
The diocese was responding to a declaration posted by the hermits last April, in which they declared that tragically, “the head of the Church on Earth, Pope Francis, by his utterances, his behaviour, his teaching and his actions, has shown himself to be indeed a great heretic.”
“Never in history has there been such a Pope, who by his actions, words and teaching, has thrown the whole Church into confusion,” the declaration stated.
“Though we are utterly unimportant, for who is interested in hermits that dare to speak out, we cannot keep silent for fear of damning not only our own souls, but the souls of countless others,” the hermits wrote.
As a result of their excommunication, the three hermits will no longer be able to receive the sacraments licitly, unless they reconcile with the Church.
Father De Kerdrel, a former Capuchin novice master, founded the Black Hermits in 1999 by for “young men seeking a more primitive form of life.”