Roy Bourgeois Faces Excommunication
Father Roy Bourgeois, M.M., the Maryknoll priest best known for work to close the School of the Americas (the US-run school that had trained paramilitary forces, primarily from Latin American countries, some of whom carried out brutal murders), has been told in a letter from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that if he does not, within 30 days, recant his support for women’s ordination he will face excommunication. The Maryknoll priest had preached a homily at the "ordination" of Janice Sevre-Duszynka in August, in Lexington, Kentucky. Bourgeois received notification from the CDF on Oct. 21, according to a subsequent letter from the priest.
The CDF’s letter says that Bourgeois must recant "belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church, or (he) will be excommunicated."
On Nov. 7, Fr. Bourgeois replied in letter to the CDF, saying, in part, "With all due respect, I believe our Catholic Church’s teaching on this issue is wrong and does not stand up to scrutiny. A 1976 report by the Pontifical Biblical Commission supports the research of Scripture scholars, canon lawyers and many faithful Catholics who have studied and pondered the Scriptures and have concluded that there is no justification in the Bible for excluding women from the priesthood."
The full story, and the full text of his letter, is reported by John Allen at NCR. H/t to Dave Gibson at Dotcommonweal.
James Martin SJ
But for now conformity to what seems to be the will of Christ is in order. Women aspiring to the priesthood is not a byproduct of the Woman’s Liberation Movement. As far back as 494 Pope St. Gelasius I, stopped the practice which had sprung up in the Church of Southern Sicily. The Fourth Century Laodicean Council, Canon XI also forbade the practice.
Saint Therese of Lisieux , Doctor of the Church, also desired to be a priest. The desire to be a priest by anyone, including women, is in itself a holy and wholesome aspiration.
In more recent times in the underground WW II Church in Eastern Europe, in the former Czechoslovia if memory serves me well, women were ordained as priests so as to confect Eucharist for the hidden Faithful. But at the end of the War after an investigation Pope Pius XII declared the ordinations null and void. Interestingly in the same area Faithful yearning for the Eucharist called forth some men from the Community of Believers and in the absence of any clergy these men began confecting Eucharist. Their “ordination” was subsequently declared valid and their priesthood authentic.
But I think what the Church should do now is to start ordaining women as Deacons. But that may prove to be not helpful ecumenically with the move towards unity with the Orthodox Church. I mention this because an Orthodox priest once told me that a great barrier blocking unity of the Catholic Church and Orthodoxy is the presence of women in the Sanctuary! Even laymen in the Sanctuary without at least some kind of ecclesial garb is also viewed as a hinderance
Besides women Deacons I think it would be very good to admit women and laymen into the College of Cardinals, serving as Papal advisors and electors. The Cardinalate is honorary and has no sacramental connection to Holy Orders. But the Church would have to change the rules to allow lay women and men in the College. It can be done!
My prayers are with Roy.