Warning: Fr. Ray Bourgeois facing dismissal over women's ordination

Warning: Fr. Ray Bourgeois facing dismissal over women's ordination March 30, 2011

A prominent priest may soon be removed from his order over his very public support of women priests.

From the National Catholic Reporter:

Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the longtime peace activist and founder of SOA Watch, has received a letter from his order giving him 15 days to “publicly recant” his support of women’s ordination or face dismissal from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

The letter, which is dated March 18, is signed by Maryknoll Fr. Edward Dougherty, the order’s superior general, and warns Bourgeois that his dismissal will also be forwarded to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith “with a request for laicization.”

NCR received the letter in a fax from Bourgeois this morning.

Bourgeois, who attended and preached a homily at the ordination of Roman Catholic Womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszunska in August, 2008, was notified by the same congregation shortly after that event that he had incurred a Latae Senteniae, or automatic, excommunication for his participation.

Dougherty’s letter references that event and says Bourgeois’ continued support of women’s ordination since — specifically mentioning his Feb. 12 participation as a panel speaker at a showing of the film Pink Smoke Over the Vatican — has been “in disobedience to the explicit instructions of your Superiors.”

If Bourgeois does not respond with 15 days, the letter says he will be given a second warning, after which Dougherty will dismiss him for “publicly reject[ing] the teaching of the Holy Father.”

In an e-mailed statement this afternoon, Dougherty told NCR that Maryknoll is “very saddened” by the turn of events.

“We have stood by Roy during this difficult time for him and his church, and we remain hopeful that the issues separating them can be reconciled.”

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16 responses to “Warning: Fr. Ray Bourgeois facing dismissal over women's ordination”

  1. What’s saddening is the NCR article’s combox. Picture the visceral, juvenile reaction to Rebecca Black’s YouTube video, with bad Catholicism thrown in.

  2. You know, it’s completely rational to believe that this or that belief of the church is wrong. (Believe that about enough things that are important enough, and that makes you simply “not Catholic.” A perfectly respectable state shared by 5 billion of the earth’s inhabitants.) But thinking that “oh, no, the Church doesn’t really believe that!” when the Church most obviously does believe it? That’s just crazy!

  3. Why are his superiors even giving him a chance? He aided in the simulation of a sacrament by preaching at her ordination and committed heresy by supporting it.

  4. In recent years, I have tended to ignore anything of Fr. Roy’s. My main concern was not with him specifically — particularly this women’s ordination issue — but with the “SOA Watch” he founded and that organization’s blanket condemnation of the United States Army’s School of the Americas and its successor school.

    All of the ranting and raving — and the very noisy public demonstrations about “hired assassins” being schooled there — continues to miss several very important points:

    –Most of the Central and South American military accused of being Human rights violators by the “SOA-Watch” went through the SOA before it moved from Fort Amador in the Canal Zone to Fort Benning in Georgia — some 25+ years ago.

    –There was absolutely no adverse publicity from American Roman Catholics against the SOA until after the move to Fort Benning and specifically after the murder of the four missionary women in El Salvador. Prior to that point, no one cared — yet it is clear that those abuses were going on long before.

    –I was particularly annoyed at Roman Catholic Campus Ministers who heavily promoted bus-trips to the Fort Benning demonstrations without properly briefing their naive college students how to demonstrate in a non-violent way; what to do to avoid arrest; what to do if arrested; and what an arrest and conviction record will mean for those students when they have to apply for employment after graduation.

    Now, I have noticed that the size of those “SOA-Watch” demonstrations at Fort Benning has shrunk considerably. I wonder if that is because a typical college student in today’s economy is not a single 18 year old with gobs of time on their hands and living on parents’ money but often 26-27 years of age, married and with little or no free time or money.

    Then someone reminded me that many of today’s college students are veterans themselves — or spouses of military veterans.

  5. “SOA Watch” = anti-US military liberal protests outside US military bases. Remind again how Fr. Roy Bourgeois maintains a tax free status given his overt political activities?

  6. I’m a longtime supporter of SOA Watch and was arrested at Fort Benning in the days before 9/11 jitters led to much tougher measures against demonstrators who “crossed the line” into the base. I was very disappointed that Fr. Roy decided to take on a very different and wholly intra-ecclesial cause at the very moment when there was a realistic chance of shutting down the SOA. As a result, this charismatic leader has apparently been excommunicated and will most likely be dismissed from his order and from the priesthood itself. Meanwhile, the SOA (under its new name, and under the leadership of none other than Barack Obama) is sailing merrily along. The good guys did not win this one.

  7. Ron #6; “I was very disappointed that Fr. Roy decided to take on a very different and wholly intra-ecclesial cause at the very moment when there was a realistic chance of shutting down the SOA.”

    I’m not sure there ever was a “realistic chance” to shut it down completely because you protesters were going about it the wrong way. The ONLY way to close it down is cut cut off its funding and the only way you can cut off its funding is by direct congressional action.

    Picketing Fort Benning did not do it — will not do it; picketing Congress could have done it when there was a Democratic majority. With the Republican majority in both houses of Congress, closing down the SOA just is not going to happen.

  8. One of these days (okay: it’s actually several decades away), men in the church who stood up on behalf of women’s ordination will be viewed as lights shining on the hill. And the same for the women who had the courage to answer God’s call to the priesthood, even when the holy father and his appointees kept up the boys-only-club mantra.

  9. Deacon Norb, I certainly never thought picketing Fort Benning would close the SOA. I thought the picketing might keep the issue closer to the front burner so that when and if a more liberal Congress was elected, the members would be reminded by their youthful constituents that it was high time the place was closed. When President Obama and the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress were elected, I figured we had lose some important battles but won some others. I certainly expected the SOA to go–even before the administration closed the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, as promised during the campaign. Of course, nothing of the sort happened, and given President Obama’s disappointing track record, perhaps nothing would have happened even if SOA Watch had had Fr. Roy’s full attention. But I suspect it might have. After all, we had had some pretty close closure votes in Congress in the past even before Hope and Change were in the political air.

  10. We need more of the dissenting priests and even bishops sent packing. There are areas that are settled issues within the Church and this is certainly one of them. As to the comment that down the road, we will be looking at these dissenters are being right, that will not happen. Pope John Paul II said very emphatically that the Church has no authority now or ever to change this teaching. That seems pretty strongly stated and with great authority as the Pope who will soon be both a saint and delcared Great as well.

    What will be the case down the road is the question why did the Pope and Bishops who understood Church teaching allow all the dissent which led so many astray from truth and could cost them life eternal with Christ. We know the baibes killed by abortion will be waiting to ask those type of questions if there is truly justice at the end of time.

  11. Rom…

    Last I heard, Bourgeois was refusing to recant, and his dismissal was all-but-certain.

    Dcn. G.

  12. Jesus never cared what sex his priests should be. Jesus never wanted priests at all. If he had met the same Catholic priests that I have, he wouldn’t want any now.

    Roy Bourgeois is way too good to be a Catholic priest.

    Whatever Roy does from now on will be better than before. I wish him well. I’m sure Jesus wishes him well.

    The Church will lose a lot of what legitimacy it has left when he’s gone.

  13. Singe — You are free to imagine on absolutely no evidence that you know what was in the mind of Jesus. But there are facts which suggest that your imagination is your own wishful thinking rather than a true insight into the mind of Jesus. The first fact is that he wanted what he did at the Last Supper to continue to be done. This, of course requires people to do it. The second fact is that the people he told to do it were the apostles. Now that the apostles have died we have priests in their place. And the third fact is that, so far from not caring about the sex of the priests, he chose men to be the ones to whom he gave the command to do what he had done.

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