Wednesday, June 29, 2011

33 and out: A former Franciscan provincial chooses Lutherans and love

Il Gazzettino
June 29, 2011

BOLZANO - At 56, he has decided to change churches because he doesn't agree with the Church hierarchy about celibacy. This is why Georg Reider (photo) has decided to abandon the role of Franciscan priest to go into the Evangelical Lutheran church.

The affair came to light after the announcement that the priest, who was formerly a Franciscan provincial, has been relieved of the last position he held, managing a Franciscan welcome center in Appian, near Bolzano. The cleric had kept the job despite the fact that he had reported to his superiors the decision to move over to the Protestants because the Catholic Church had found his religious position to be incompatible with his relationship with a woman.

The former Franciscan told the diocesan weekly Sonntagsblatt that "it's a valuable relationship, which I can not and will not give up. It would not be fair either to the persons concerned or in respect of my testimony of faith."

According to an article in Südtirol Online published in March when he decided to change denominations, Fr. Reider had been a Franciscan friar since 1977. From 1992 to 2000, Reider, who has a PhD from the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome, taught religion and spirituality at the Higher Institute of Theological Education in Bressanone. Reider was Provincial of the Franciscans in Alto Adige from 1996 to 2001.

The priest told Südtirol that he no longer wanted to hide, that he felt his relationship helped him to have a better understanding of what his parishioners were going through and to be a better minister. He said that he anticipates going through hard times but that, in the end, "I want to go my way."

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