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Bourgeois faces imminent dismissal from Maryknoll over support of women’s ordination

August 09, 2011

Father Edward Dougherty, the superior general of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, has formally warned Father Roy Bourgeois that he will be dismissed from the institute if he fails to retract his support of women’s ordination.

A New York Times report on the case said that Bourgeois had already been dismissed from the Maryknoll order. But the superior's letter, dated July 27, indicated that dismissal would take place in 15 days--that is, on August 11--if Bourgeois did not recant. The excommunicated priest has already said that he will not do so.

“Your participation in the event in support of women priests at Barnard College in New York City on February 12, 2011 presents a clear act of disobedience of the explicit instructions of your Superiors and the warnings from the Holy See,” Father Dougherty wrote. “Also, in the wake of continuing efforts over the last couple of months by your brother Maryknollers inviting you to consider the effects of your actions on the Society and the Church, you have remained unmoved.”

Father Dougherty added:

The dismissal is based on your defiant stance as a Catholic priest who publicly rejects the Magisterium of the Church on the matter of priestly ordination. Your public statements are directly opposed to the definitive letter of John Paul II in the Apostolic Letter "Ordination Sacerdotalis" and in a response to a "dubium" on the matter, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated this Apostolic Letter "is to be understood as pertaining to the deposit of faith.“ Your numerous public statements and appearances in support of the women's priests movement continues to create in the minds of many faithful the view that your position is acceptable to our Church, which as described above has ruled that your position is contrary to Church teachings. …

If you fail to publicly recant and retract your stand on this issue of women's ordination, after excommunication and several warnings of your Superiors, within fifteen days of receipt of this second canonical warning, I will proceed with the process of dismissal. I will submit evidence of your violation of Canons 1371:2; 1384; 1379; 1399; 750; 908; 696:1.

Taking into consideration all of the Canons listed above, the reasons for the dismissal are in accordance with Canon 696:1:

1. For obstinate disobedience to your legitimate Superiors in violation of Canon Law and your Oath to the Society and the Magisterium in a grave matter.

2. Grave scandal given to the people of God, the Church, especially in the United States, and scandal given to many of the Maryknoll priests and Brothers in a serious matter defined in Catholic doctrine, tradition and Canon Law.

3. Diffusion of teachings opposed to the definitive teaching of John Paul II and the Magisterium of the Church.

Bourgeois, who was automatically excommunicated in 2008 for taking part in a woman’s “ordination” ceremony, said in an August 8 response that he will not retract his position.

“After much reflection, study, and prayer, I believe that our Church's teaching that excludes women from the priesthood defies both faith and reason and cannot stand up to scrutiny,” he said in a letter to his superior. “This teaching has nothing to do with God, but with men, and is rooted in sexism. Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination against women, in the end, it is not the way of God, but of men who want to hold on to their power.”

“I will not recant,” Bourgeois added. “I firmly believe that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, against our Church, and against our God.”


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  • Posted by: john1948 - Aug. 10, 2011 6:28 AM ET USA

    In the past two months I have received from Maryknoll three donation requests which I promptly discarded because of this very situation. Why didn't Maryknoll act more quickly to expel this priest from the order after he was excommunicated? He was given plenty of time to repent before the excommunication and he has refused.