A California priest who was excommunicated after denying the legitimacy of Pope Francis has been laicized, according to a Nov. 2 letter from his bishop. The priest has also been accused of sexual coercion and manipulation, prompting Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento to call priests to a day of fasting and reparation for the sins of clerical sexual abuse.

“On September 10, 2020 the Holy Father, Pope Francis, granted the personal request of Fr. Jeremy Leatherby for a return to the lay state and a dispensation from the promise of celibacy…. Mr. Jeremy Leatherby was informed of the Holy Father’s decision on Tuesday, October 27. Mr. Leatherby no longer has any responsibilities or rights proper to the clerical state. The Catholic faithful are admonished not to participate in Mass or any further sacraments attempted by him,” Bishop Soto wrote in a Nov. 2 letter.

In August, Leatherby explained that he continued to celebrate Mass in public settings, despite a prohibition from his bishop against doing so. He admitted that he did not accept the papacy of Pope Francis.

“I continue to regard Benedict as retaining the Office of Peter, as mysterious as that might be. Therefore, I do not regard Bergoglio as the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church,” Leatherby wrote.

In the same month, Soto announced that “by his words and actions” Leatherby was “in a state of schism with the Roman Catholic Church.”

The bishop declared that the priest had incurred a latae sententiae excommunication, after which Leatherby said he planned to petition for laicization, acknowledging that he is no longer “in union with the church over which Bergoglio reigns.” The priest said that he would “live out my priestly promises independently.”

Leatherby’s laicization likely brings to a halt the canonical trial against him related to allegations of sexual coercion and manipulation.

In March 2016, the priest was removed from ministry at a Sacramento parish, amid allegations that he had engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman at the parish. He was prohibited from public ministry and his sacramental faculties were withdrawn.

The priest said in August that “I violated boundaries in ways with that woman….”

The above comes from a Nov. 2 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.