Bourgeois Dismissed (Not Quite) from Maryknoll

After declining to recant his very public support for women's ordination, Father Roy Bourgeois has been dismissed by the Maryknolls. The N.Y. Times reports that he was notified via a letter signed by the superior general and the general secretary of the Maryknoll order in the United States, which said his dismissal was necessary because of his “defiant stance” in opposition to church teaching.

" '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,' the letter said, adding that Father Bourgeois had caused the church 'grave scandal.' "

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Father Bourgeois' case will now be considered by the Vatican for possible "reduction to lay status." He has hired Father Tom Doyle, best known for his work on the church's sex abuse crisis, to represent him at the Vatican.

Read more at the Times.

UPDATED (h/t Dan Horan): NCR's Tom Roberts is reporting that the NY Times got the story wrong on Bourgeois and that he has received a "second canonical warning," not a dismissal. The July 27 letter gives him another 15 days to recant and includes an opprotunity to defend himself against a dismissal from Maryknoll.

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Daniel Horan
6 years 2 months ago
Just two updates: 

1. NCR is reporting that Fr. Bourgeois is claiming the NYT piece is incorrect because he has not yet appealed the dismissal. See "Bourgeois: NY Times Story Incorrect."

2. Little coverage has been given to the complexity of the reason(s) and process of dismissal. The popular focus has been on Bourgeois's stance on women's ordination, but his dismissal is actually a result of disobedience in religious life. See this post for more on this: "The Real Reason Roy Bourgeois Was Dismissed"  
6 years 2 months ago
#1 Thank you for posting ''The Real Reason Roy Bourgeois Was Dismissed''.   This will help ordinary people to understand about Religious Community Life that vowed members are expected to live by.  The two Jesuits cited clearly demonstrated two examples one can respond to religious obedience in one's Order.  I think the long and short of this whole thing is:  Is it about me (disguised as personal conscience...could actually be pride...one really needs the guidance of the Holy Spirit to discern the authentic), or it's about Almighty God and His Will and His Kingdom?   (As we say the Lord's prayer,,,,Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven....)
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
The essay, "The Real Reason Roy B was dismissed" made me think about the complex ways that we all have to be who we are even when we come up against the displeasure of our brothers and sisters. I don't think that there's an easy (right or wrong) answer for Fr. Roy.
Cody Serra
6 years 2 months ago
It is interesting to read Danierl Horan, OFM 's article presenting a different perspective about the reason for the dismissal from the order. He has a point about the vow of obedience religious ordained priests have made voluntarily. However, he dismisses or discount the primcacy of an informed conscience in any baptized Catholic, ordained or not. I believe it is more complex than the simple attribution of Fr. Roy's problems to his desobedience to his superiors. It is his personal conscience the issue here.

I cases like this, I always remember a quote from Cardinal Newman, recently beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. In a letter to the Duque of Norkforld, chaper 5, he wrote, and I quote: 

“I add one remark. Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing) I shall drink—to the Pope, if you please,—still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.” He continues discussing and presenting his arguments in his writings on the issue of conscience and personal responsibility facing God. And he has been beatified...

This happened many, many years before Vatican II and its proclamation of the primacy of conscience.

No human being, regardless of status, can with certainty assess the depth of Fr. Roy's conscience, as he ponders his religious obedience to the Maryknoll Order and to God's. Difficult choice if they conflict.
Let's pray for all involved.


Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
"Jesus was a religious leader and he had his renegade Judas."

THen why did they kill Jesus?
Anne Chapman
6 years 2 months ago
Mr., or Ms., or Miss, or Mrs McCue - perhaps you should reread the gospels.  Jesus regularly ''disobeyed'' what religious leaders said to do - healing on the Sabbath, working on the Sabbath (picking grain), disregarding dietary and cleanliness laws, socializing with the ''unclean'' such as Samaritans, touching lepers, going into the temple and destroying the tables - all forbidden by the religious leaders. What would he do in the church today, given that the priest-class did not merely permit commerce in the churches (temple), but allowed the priests to use churches and church propetries to rape and molest the young - the hierarchy of this church - who must sometimes be disobeyed if one is to obey God - permitted cycles of crimes the bishops could have stopped but didn't), etc, etc, etc.  Jesus's death was demanded by the religious leaders - Pontius Pilate would have freed him, but the religious leaders said to ''crucify him.''  Denying a sacrament to someone made in God's image due to gender alone is a sin - it is injust, it is immoral. Those who understand this must obey their conscience against ''ecdclesial authority'' - as Joseph Ratzinger understood. How sad that Benedict does not.

Lord Acton of England once said (in reference to Pius IX) - ''Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.''  
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
but is Fr. Roy a renegade, or is he a prophet? (or somewhere in between)

What did prophets look like within their cultures?
Anne Chapman
6 years 2 months ago
David, a look through history shows that when change or reform is needed, those who benefit from the status quo are not inclined to do what needs to be done. It is usually the renegades who say what needs to be said, and who do what needs to be done.

History is full of such examples of renegades providing the needed push - renegades who include Jesus Christ, who was tortured and killed - a renegade who posed such a threat to the religious leaders, and by extension, the Roman leaders, that he was executed also. But, it didn't work, did it? He was dead, but the truths he proclaimed have lived on. This can be seen with many renegades.  Ghandi - both a religious and a civil leader, assassinated.  People like Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers (all of whom knew they would be killed if they lost), and Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, who risked jail and in some cases death, to name just a few well-known examples. There are many in Catholic church history as well - people who were investigated, silenced, censored,  sometimes even excommunicated, some turned over to the state for execution after being found guilty of heresy (Galileo saved his skin by partially recanting what he knew to be the truth and still had to live under house arrest the remainder of his life; as a condemned heretic, Joan of Arc was denied communion before she was burned at the stake with the blessing of the church) - generally ''exonerated'' after their deaths, and some later called ''saint'' by the church.

 Let's hear it for the renegades who are brave enough to stand up and push when most prefer not to rock the boat, preferring safety and comfort instead, even when they know that there are injustices out there that cry out for someone to DO something (But not me, Lord. It's too risky.....Let the Father Roys of the world go out on those limbs that the princes in Rome will soon cut off. I am too comfortable the way it is now to take any risks. Let someone else do it - the renegades).
Dale Rodrigue
6 years 2 months ago
Bravo Cody!
Craig Hanley
6 years 2 months ago
Hasta la vista, Bourgy!
William Russell
6 years 2 months ago
Cody Serra quotes Newman's "Letter to the Duque (sic) of Norfolk"  out of context to represent Newman as meaning the complete opposite of what he really said about conscience.  Newman was actually writing in defense ov Pope Piux IX over against Gladstone. In the same section 5, Newman writes:
"When men advocate the rights of conscience, they in no sense mean the rights of the Creator, nor the duty to Him, in thought and deed, of the creature; but the right of thinking, speaking, writing, and acting, according to their judgment or their humour, without any thought of God at all. They do not even pretend to go by any moral rule, but they demand, what they think is an Englishman's prerogative, for each to be his own master in all things, and to profess what he pleases, asking no one's leave, and accounting priest or preacher, speaker or writer, unutterably impertinent, who dares to say a word against his going to perdition, if he like it, in his own way. Conscience has rights because it has duties; but in this age, with a large portion of the public, it is the very right and freedom of conscience to dispense with conscience, to ignore a Lawgiver and Judge, to be independent of unseen obligations. It becomes a licence to take up any or no religion, to take up this or that and let it go again, to go to church, to go to chapel, to boast of being above all religions and to be an impartial critic of each of them. Conscience is a stern monitor, but in this century it has been superseded by a counterfeit, which the eighteen centuries prior to it never heard of, and could not have mistaken for it, if they had. It is the right of self-will.
Cody Serra
6 years 2 months ago
Bill Russell, are you suggesting that Fr. Roy, and for that matter. anyone who supports him, has a conscience that is superseded by a countefit one?

"Conscience is a stern monitor, but in this century it has been superseded by a counterfeit, which the eighteen centuries prior to it never heard of, and could not have mistaken for it, if they had. It is the right of self-will."

I have read Cardinal Newman's discussion on conscience, and his whole history of conversion to Catholicism, and certainly did not understand his discourse to be reflected in the paragraph you quoted.  Quotatiosns are always, in some way, out of context.  The life experience of the peson's quoted and the time in history when they were written needs to be taken into account.  Maybe we shouldn't use any reference or quotes from persons who can't any longer clarify themselves...

The primacy of an informed conscience, notwithstanding, is documented and effective even to this day, since Vatican II.

Let's end this argument here. A blog it is not the venue to change other people points of view or intrpretations.
Pat McCue
6 years 2 months ago
Gee Cioffoletti, you seem to think every religious renegade is a righteous prophet.  Jesus was a religious leader and he had his renegade Judas.  Yes, history is littered with examples of religious leaders who were sinful and did evil things to holy people.  The thing many fail to realize is that is not the rule, but more of the exception - like everything else.  Jesus also said that we should do what the religious leaders say, but not as we see them do.  That's because what they say is lead by the Holy Spirit.
Anne Chapman
6 years 2 months ago
It is no longer disputed by many that one reason for the tragedy of sexual child abuse by priests who were not stopped by bishops who knew of the crimes, but remained silent, transferring sexual criminals repeatedly to new parishes where they found new victims can be laid at the door of ''obedience'' to superiors in the Roman Catholic church. So, bishops kept their mouths shut because they had taken vows of obedience to the hierarchy of the church, to the pope.  If any of them had any pangs of conscience over this, they quelled them and were"obedient" priests, bishops, cardinals, and even Cardinal Ratzinger, out of misguided understanding of obedience, dropped his investigation of the sexual predator known as Maciel, close friend of John Paul II, when it was clear that Ratzinger's boss did not welcome this investigation. There was no concern for truth, no concern for justice, and, most damningly, no concern for obedience to GOD's laws.

 Men gave their obedience to men, and permitted evil to continue, and due to this misguided obedience to men and to an institution, created thousands of young victims of rape and molestation who might have been spared if these bishops had but remembered that their obedience must be to God, not to men.  Perhaps they, including Cardinal Ratzinger himself, should be reminded what a younger Joseph Ratzinger had once written, before he had spent too many years in Rome, perhaps clouding his vision and conscience.


“Over the pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there stands one’s own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even the official church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism”.
Joseph Ratzinger, 1967
(in: Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II )

Clergy must continuously remind themselves that their obedience must be to God - not to men. To put men, and their ''laws'' above God's law is a form of idolatory.
6 years 2 months ago
P.S.   The two Jesuits referred to above are Roger Haight and Leonard Feeney.

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