By Richie Ramos

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The Diocese of Sacramento excommunicated a priest from the Roman Catholic Church after he continued, while suspended, to hold Mass and questioned the legitimacy of Pope Francis, according to a letter from Bishop Jaime Soto.

In his letter, Soto said Father Jeremy Leatherby was exiled by his own volition, refusing the bishop’s instructions to refrain from offering public Mass to parishioners.

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“He has instructed them against the legitimacy of His Holiness, Pope Francis,” Soto said. “He has substituted the Holy Father’s name with the name of his predecessor, and omitted my name during the recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer while offering Mass.”

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Soto said he attempted to reach Leatherby in a number of ways but did not get any response.

An investigation into other alleged behaviors of Leatherby that violated his “priestly promises, was already in motion while he was suspended, Soto said. The bishop said those prior concerns are viewed as separate and did not contribute to the decision to excommunicate Leatherby.

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“Both clergy and faithful are instructed to refrain from any further attempt by Fr. Leatherby to offer the Mass or other sacraments. Join me in praying for his reconciliation and return to full communion with the Roman Catholic Church,” Bishop Soto said.