USA: Fr. Roy Bourgeois Threatened with Dismissal From Maryknoll Community

Today, March 29th, 2011, Fr. Roy Bourgeois received a canonical warning from the leadership of his community, the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. Fr. Roy has been given fifteen days to recant his belief that women, along with men, are called by God to serve as Roman Catholic priests. Failure to recant during this time period will result in a second canonical warning from his superiors, whereupon, Maryknoll leadership will submit their charge for dismissal to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with a request for laicization. Take action .

Bourgeois at the ordination of Roman Catholic Womenpriest, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, on August 9, 2008 in Lexington, Ky.

Statement from Erin Saiz Hanna, Executive Director

"The Women's Ordination Conference (WOC) supports Fr. Roy Bourgeois in his life and ministry. As a Maryknoll priest for nearly 40 years, he has followed the gospel of Jesus by speaking out against war and against the torture of countless human beings, aided and abetted by the U.S. government's School of the Americas. He has been a prophetic voice for thousands in our society.

Fr. Bourgeois' dedication to social justice, his conscience, and his personal friendships with women called to priesthood compelled him to bravely speak out against the inequality of women in our church. He remains steadfast in his faith and loyalty to the Church, and he has the support of millions of Catholics who, also in good conscience, believe that women are called by God to priestly ordination.

In our efforts to ordain women into an inclusive and accountable Church, we see it as contrary to the gospel itself to dismiss faithful priests who dare to break the silence in support of women's rightful role in the Church, and we oppose the threat of laicization as a way of dealing with differences.

The Maryknoll Society itself aims to be the heart and hands of the Catholic Church around the world, with a mission to "[J]oin the struggles for justice of the poor, indigenous peoples, women and children against economic, social and cultural oppression..."  In the spirit of justice, the threat to dismiss Fr. Bourgeois is not only a misuse of church discipline in the face of difference, but a betrayal to all those they hope to serve. It will not intimidate those of us who dare to shatter the stained glass ceiling.

We are asking our supporters to stand with Fr. Roy, and urging the Maryknoll leadership to desist from issuing a second canonical warning, and to support Fr. Roy, just as Sr. Joan Chittister's order did when she publicly supported women's ordination in 2001.

Furthermore, we ask the Maryknoll leadership to refer to the Vatican's own 1976 Pontifical Biblical Commission, which determined that there is no scriptural reason to prohibit women's ordination."

Contact: Erin Saiz Hanna, Executive Director
(202) 675-1006