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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 23, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 47
Vatican fires activist priest
Section One
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Vatican fires activist priest

Roy Bourgeois defied church authorities by ordaining women

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Vatican announced on November 20 that it had defrocked and excommunicated Father Roy Bourgeois, an outspoken Maryknoll priest.

'They finally got him,' the independent National Catholic Reporter editorialized.

Bourgeois is a well-known human rights activist and was one of the founders of School of the Americas Watch, a group dedicated to ending the relationship between the U.S. Defense Department and Latin American military establishments.

According to a statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) published by Christian News Wire, Bourgeois was fired October 4 for helping to ordain women clergy.

DISMISSED AND 'DISPENSED'
'The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on October 4, 2012, canonically dismissed Roy Bourgeois from the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, also known as the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. The decision dispenses the Maryknoll priest from his sacred bonds,' the statement read in part.

'As a priest during 2008, Mr. Bourgeois participated in the invalid ordination of a woman and a simulated Mass in Lexington, Kentucky. ... Disobedience and preaching against the teaching of the Catholic Church about women's ordination led to his excommunication, dismissal, and laicization.'

'Dispensing' Bourgeois from his vows as a priest means he is no longer authorized to perform the sacraments of the church, such as marriage or Holy Communion. Excommunication, a more severe sanction, means Bourgeois may no longer take any active role in church liturgy.

NOT BACKING DOWN
While Bourgeois said his dismissal was 'very difficult and painful,' he remained defiant.

'The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church,' Bourgeois said in a statement posted November 20 on the Women's Ordination Conference website.

'The demand for gender equality is rooted in justice and dignity and will not go away,' he continued. 'My conscience compelled me to break my silence and address the sin of sexism in my Church. My only regret is that it took me so long to confront the issue of male power and domination in the Catholic Church.'

The incident for which he is being punished took place in August 2008. Bourgeois delivered the sermon at a Catholic ordination service for Janice Sevre-Duszynska at a Unitarian Universalist church in Lexington, Kentucky, in a calculated act of disobedience to church authority. The CDF had ruled the previous May that any woman who attempts to be ordained a priest, and anyone who assists her, are subject to excommunication.

WANTED PAPAL MEETING
Although he had been warned by his Maryknoll superiors that he faced church charges, Bourgeois demanded a face-to-face conference with the pope.

'There is no room for such discussion,' wrote Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter. 'The fear of that discussion is so great that clerics who dare to raise it are dealt with swiftly and severely.'

In 2011, Bourgeois was arrested by Vatican police when he and several women, all dressed in liturgical vestments, tried to deliver a petition to Pope Benedict XVI. Bourgeois has also been arrested several times in the United States as a result of protests against the School of the Americas.

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