Vatican Officials Have Threatened to Ex-communicate Fr. Roy Bourgeois for his support of Women's Ordination.
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Many of you are aware that Fr. Roy Bourgeois (Maryknoll priest of 36 years) has taken a strong stance on many issues relating to peace and justice. One which is very dear to him is that of women's ordination. And while you may not have heard him talk about this publically, it has been a focus of his for many years. In fact, in 2000 Fr. Roy addressed this issue while being interviewed on Vatican Radio.
A few years later, I brought a letter from Fr. Roy with me to Rome and Bishop Gumbleton hand delivered it to one of the Papal Swiss Guardsmen to give to the Pope on Roy’s behalf. This letter was his second direct attempt to appeal to the Papal leadership to support women's ordination.
On August 9, 2008 in Lexington, KY, Fr. Roy concelebrated an ordination Mass for Janice Sevre-Duszynska, an SOA Watch POC and friend of Fr. Roy's. The presiding bishop was Dana Reynolds.
As a result of his public support for Janice and his participation in the Mass Fr. Roy was summoned to a meeting with the leadership at Maryknoll. Subsequently, an investigation by church leaders and canon lawyers resulted in a report being submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.
The congregation has given him 30 days (the letter was dated October 21, 2008) to recant his “belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church, or (he) will be excommunicated.”
Below is Fr. Roy's letter, dated November 7, 2008.
Bill Quigley, a dear friend and legal council to Fr. Roy, has enclosed some action items with addresses where people can write. Please take the time to read this and take action!
Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
PO Box 3330
Columbus, GA 31903
November 7, 2008
TO THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, THE VATICAN
I was very saddened by your letter dated October 21, 2008, giving me 30 days to recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church, or I will be excommunicated.
I have been a Catholic priest for 36 years and have a deep love for my Church and ministry.
When I was a young man in the military, I felt God was calling me to the priesthood. I entered Maryknoll and was ordained in 1972.
Over the years I have met a number of women in our Church who, like me, feel called by God to the priesthood. You, our Church leaders at the Vatican, tell us that women cannot be ordained.
With all due respect, I believe our Catholic Church's teaching on this issue is wrong and does not stand up to scrutiny. A 1976 report by the Pontifical Biblical Commission supports the research of Scripture scholars, canon lawyers and many faithful Catholics who have studied and pondered the Scriptures and have concluded that there is no justification in the Bible for excluding women from the priesthood.
As people of faith, we profess that the invitation to the ministry of priesthood comes from God. We profess that God is the Source of life and created men and women of equal stature and dignity. The current Catholic Church doctrine on the ordination of women implies our loving and all-powerful God, Creator of heaven and earth, somehow cannot empower a woman to be a priest.
Women in our Church are telling us that God is calling them to the priesthood. Who are we, as men, to say to women, "Our call is valid, but yours is not." Who are we to tamper with God's call?
Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard or how long we may try to justify discrimination, in the end, it is always immoral.
Hundreds of Catholic churches in the U.S. are closing because of a shortage of priests. Yet there are hundreds of committed and prophetic women telling us that God is calling them to serve our Church as priests.
If we are to have a vibrant, healthy Church rooted in the teachings of our Savior, we need the faith, wisdom, experience, compassion and courage of women in the priesthood.
Conscience is very sacred. Conscience gives us a sense of right and wrong and urges us to do the right thing. Conscience is what compelled Franz Jagerstatter, a humble Austrian farmer, husband and father of four young children, to refuse to join Hitler's army, which led to his execution.
Conscience is what compelled Rosa Parks to say she could no longer sit in the back of the bus. Conscience is what compels women in our Church to say they cannot be silent and deny their call from God to the priesthood. Conscience is what compelled my dear mother and father, now 95, to always strive to do the right things as faithful Catholics raising four children.
And after much prayer, reflection and discernment, it is my conscience that compels me to do the right thing. I cannot recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church.
Working and struggling for peace and justice are an integral part of our faith. For this reason, I speak out against the war in Iraq. And for the last eighteen years, I have been speaking out against the atrocities and suffering caused by the School of the Americas (SOA). Eight years ago, while in Rome for a conference on peace and justice, I was invited to speak about the SOA on Vatican Radio. During the interview, I stated that I could not address the injustice of the SOA and remain silent about injustice in my Church. I ended the interview by saying, "There will never be justice in the Catholic Church until women can be ordained." I remain committed to this belief today.
Having an all male clergy implies that men are worthy to be Catholic priests, but women are not.
According to USA TODAY (Feb. 28, 2008) in the United States alone, nearly 5,000 Catholic priests have sexually abused more than 12,000 children. Many bishops, aware of the abuse, remained silent. These priests and bishops were not excommunicated. Yet the women in our Church who are called by God and are ordained to serve God's people, and the priests and bishops who support them, are excommunicated.
Silence is the voice of complicity. Therefore, I call on all Catholics, fellow priests, bishops, Pope Benedict XVI and all Church leaders at the Vatican, to speak loudly on this grave injustice of excluding women from the priesthood.
Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated because of his defense of the oppressed. He said, "Let those who have a voice, speak out for the voiceless."
Our loving God has given us a voice. Let us speak clearly and boldly and walk in solidarity as Jesus would, with the women in our Church who are being called by God to the priesthood.
In Peace and Justice,
Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
PO Box 3330
Columbus, GA 31903
Additional Articles Regarding Fr. Roy's Possible Excommunication:
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Nov 15, 2008):
NCR Online (Nov 11, 2008)
NCR: Tom Robert's Article (Nov 17)
America Magazine (Nov 15, 2008)
NY Times (Nov 13, 2008)
Catholic News Agency
Ms. Magazine (Oct 15, 2008)
TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT ROY BOURGEOIS!
Some have asked for addresses to write their support of Fr. Roy and to ask that he not be excommunicated. Petitions are also appropriate.
Please write or fax or email to Pope Benedict XVI, and/or the Pope’s Ambassador to the U.S., the Apostolic Nuncio, and/or the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, the group that is moving toward excommunication of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, and/or The leaders of the Maryknoll Order (see addresses below).
ADDRESSES TO WRITE:
Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W, Washington, DC, USA
Telephone: (202) 333-7121
Fax: (202) 337-4036
Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano, Europe
The Pope’s email address (for English correspondence) is:
FAX from USA:
Congregation for Doctrine of Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy
Telephone: 06.69.88.33.57 or 06.69.88.34.13
Superior General, John Sivalon at email@example.com
and to the three-member Maryknoll Council at
firstname.lastname@example.org and/or fax to 914-944-3600
Write to: Maryknoll Council P.O. Box 303 Maryknoll, NY 10545
Please send a cc of any message or petitions you send to:
Bill Quigley / Attorney for Fr. Roy
7214 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118 or