Priest advocate for women’s ordination is dismissed

An excommunicated Maryknoll priest who became an outspoken advocate for women’s ordination has been dismissed from his order and the priesthood, but supporters are questioning the manner in which he was removed.

A Maryknoll statement said Roy Bourgeois, 74, had been canonically dismissed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for “disobedience and preaching against the teaching of the Catholic Church about women’s ordination”.

“As a priest in 2008,” the statement said, “Mr Bourgeois participated in the invalid ordination of a woman and a simulated Mass in Lexington, Kentucky.

“With patience, the Holy See and the Maryknoll Society have encouraged his reconciliation with the Catholic Church. Instead, Mr Bourgeois chose to campaign against the teachings of the Catholic Church in secular and non-Catholic venues.”

Following his participation in the invalid ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska in 2008, Bourgeois was notified by the Vatican congregation that he had incurred automatic excommunication.

Subsequently Maryknoll asked Bourgeois to publicly recant his support of women’s ordination, telling him in March last year that he faced laicisation and removal from the order if he did not comply. In a series of letters and interviews since then, Bourgeois said he could not comply with the request.

In a statement released by the Women’s Ordination Conference, Bourgeois said “the exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, our church and our loving God, who calls both men and women to be priests”.

Canon lawyers quoted by the National Catholic Reporter said it was ambiguous under what authority the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was able to dismiss Bourgeois.

They questioned why his dismissal came from the doctrinal congregation and not from the Vatican congregation that deals with religious orders.

Oblate Father Francis Morrisey, a professor of canon law at Ottawa’s Catholic University of Saint Paul, said the doctrinal congregation might have become involved because of a norm the Vatican approved in 2010 that called the ordination of a woman a “grave delict” and left judgment on such matters to the doctrinal congregation.


National Catholic Reporter

Catholic News Service

National Catholic Reporter

Image: National Catholic Reporter

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