Excommunicated US priest laicized for public dissent on ordination of women
MARYKNOLL, NY, November 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has canonically dismissed Roy Bourgeois from the priesthood because of his public dissent from the Catholic Church’s teaching on the ordination of women. Bourgeois’ dismissal was announced by the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, also known as the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, in a Nov. 19 statement.
As a Maryknoll priest during 2008, Bourgeois participated in a mock ordination of a woman and a simulated Mass at a Unitarian church in Lexington, Kentucky. The radical feminist group Roman Catholic Womanpriests staged the ceremony.
Subsequently Bourgeois was given a “canonical warning” that his actions could result in his excommunication and expulsion from his religious order.
Bourgeois was given thirty days to recant his position, but instead he initiated a campaign against the Church, and published a letter insisting the Church was “wrong” on women’s ordination. “After much prayer, reflection and discernment, it is my conscience that compels me to do the right thing,” he wrote. “I cannot recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church.”
He went on to demand that “all Catholics, fellow priests, bishops, Pope Benedict XVI and all Church leaders at the Vatican ... speak loudly on this grave injustice of excluding women from the priesthood.”
The Vatican responded with a decree saying that any Catholic bishop who attempts the ordination of a woman or any woman who participates in such a ceremony, is subject to automatic excommunication.
This decree is backed up by the late Holy Father John Paul II’s 1994 Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in which he states, “In order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, ... I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
Bourgeois was excommunicated “Latae sententiae” (meaning “sentence already passed” or automatically) for not recanting his public stance supporting the ordination of women.
The Maryknoll statement says that while “the Holy See and the Maryknoll Society have encouraged his reconciliation with the Catholic Church,” the priest instead “chose to campaign against the teachings of the Catholic Church in secular and non-Catholic venues.”
“This was done without the permission of the local U.S. Catholic Bishops and while ignoring the sensitivities of the faithful across the country. Disobedience and preaching against the teaching of the Catholic Church about women’s ordination led to his excommunication, dismissal and laicization.”
Bourgeois, 74, called his expulsion from the priesthood and the Maryknoll order “very difficult and painful,” in a Nov. 20 statement published by the “Women’s Ordination Conference.”
“The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender inequality in the Catholic Church,” the statement said. “The demand for gender equality is rooted in justice and dignity and will not go away.”
The Maryknoll Fathers’ statement says, “Mr. Bourgeois freely chose his views and actions, and all the members of the Maryknoll Society are saddened at the failure of reconciliation. With this parting, the Maryknoll Society warmly thanks Roy Bourgeois for his service to mission and all members wish him well in his personal life.
“In the spirit of equity and charity, Maryknoll will assist Mr. Bourgeois with this transition,” the Fathers conclude.