US Priest has 30 Days to Recant Support for Women’s Ordination or face Excommunication: Vatican



By Hilary White

November 13, 2008 ( – Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a member of the Maryknoll missionary order, has told media that he has been given 30 days to recant his support for the ordination of women, or face excommunication. Bourgeois had preached a homily at the "ordination" of Janice Sevre-Duszynka in August, in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Bourgeois, a long-time leftist political activist, said he received a letter October 21st from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) giving him a “canonical warning” that his action in concelebrating a Mass and delivering a homily at an “ordination” ceremony of a woman at a Unitarian church earlier this year could result in his excommunication. The ceremony was staged by the radical feminist group Roman Catholic Womanpriests.

The letter tells Bourgeois to recant the “belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church, or ... be excommunicated,” according to the National Catholic Reporter. He has also been warned that his actions could result in his expulsion from his religious order. It is reported that this was the first time a Catholic priest in good standing with the Church had participated in a mock ordination.

Fr. Bourgeois responded in a letter saying that he believed that the Catholic Church’s teaching restricting clerical ordination to men is “wrong” and “does not stand up to scrutiny.” He quoted a 1976 report by the Pontifical Biblical Commission that said there was no biblical reason “for excluding women from the priesthood.”

“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,” he wrote.

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.”

While the feminist movement of the late 20th century has created the concept that women are being “discriminated” against by an all-male priesthood, the Catholic Church has made it clear that the issue is not one of politics.

In 1976, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the highest doctrinal authority in the Church under the Pope, discussed the issue of the ordination of women and issued a Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood which concluded that the Church “does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination”.

Following this, in 1994, Pope John Paul II declared the question closed in his letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, stating formally, “Wherefore, 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.”

In 1995, the CDF issued a clarification calling the matter one of “definitive and infallible” doctrine and saying, “This doctrine belongs to the deposit of the faith of the Church.”

In recent years, a spate of mock “ordinations” have caught the attention of the media, with radical feminist, leftist activist and anti-Catholic organisations claiming to have created women priests. But lay critics of the ceremonies have called them crass political stunts meant to discredit the Catholic Church.

In May this year, the Vatican responded to the mock ordinations 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.

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