On October 21, 2008, the Vatican sent a letter to the Maryknoll community stating that Father Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest of 36 years, had 30 days to recant his statement of public support of women's ordination or he will be automatically excommunicated. Fr. Bourgeois co-presided and gave the homily during the ordination ceremony of Roman Catholic Womenpriest, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, which took place on August 9 in Lexington, Ky.
Fr. Bourgeois stands firm in his support of women’s ordination. Read his response to the Vatican at www.womensordination.org
Please stand with Fr. Roy Bourgeois and join Women's Ordination Conference, with Roman Catholics Womenpriests and Call to Action as partners, as we break the silence on women's ordination in the Roman Catholic Church.
We, the undersigned, support Fr. Roy Bourgeois as we take a prophetic stand in support of women's ordination into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church.
In the face of inevitable excommunication, we urge the Maryknoll leadership to do everything within their power to support Fr. Bourgeois, just as Sr. Joan Chittister's order did when she publicly supported women's ordination in 2001. We also urge the Vatican to listen to the voices of the Catholic faithful and the movement of the Holy Spirit by opening the discussion of women's ordination.
The penalty of excommunication threatened upon Fr. Bourgeois - a Maryknoll priest who has dedicated his entire life to serve the Church - is a prime example of the misuse of church discipline as a way of dealing with differences. It will not intimidate those of us who dare to shatter the stained glass ceiling.
We applaud Fr. Bourgeois' dedication to social justice, including justice for women in the Church. His conscience and his personal relationship with women called to priesthood compelled him to stand up for what he believes. We echo his words, "I cannot possibly speak out about the injustice of the war in Iraq, about the injustice of the School of the Americas and the suffering it causes, and at the same time be silent about this injustice in my church. I belong to a huge faith community where women are excluded, and I have a responsibility to address this."
This inappropriate use of excommunication and the Vatican's stance on ordination are based on arguments that have been refuted time and again. In 1976, the Vatican's own Pontifical Biblical Commission determined that there is no scriptural reason to prohibit women's ordination. In our efforts to ordain women into an inclusive and accountable Church, we see it as contrary to the gospel itself to excommunicate people who are daring to break the silence in support of women's rightful role in the Church.
The refusal to ordain women is nothing more than an egregious manifestation of sexism in the church. It is time for the Vatican to listen to its own research, its own theologians and its own people who say that women are equally created in the image of God. The Holy Spirit calls women, as well as men, to serve as priests in a renewed and inclusive Catholic Church.
Founded in 1975, the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) is the oldest and largest national organization that works solely to ordain women as priests, deacons and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic church.
Call To Action (CTA) is a Catholic movement working for equality and justice in the Church and society.
The mission of Roman Catholic Womenpriests North America is to spiritually prepare, ordain, and support women and men from all states of life, who are theologically qualified, committed to an inclusive model of Church, and are called by the Holy Spirit and their communities to minister.
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