The current Catholic pope made his mark a few decades ago by reeling in South American liberation theologians through the threat of excommunication. The following makes it evident old habits die hard.
This has come into particular highlight this very week, because the Inquisition office (now renamed the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith) has sent a letter to Father Roy Bourgeois threatening him with ex-communication (which effectively means an end to his income and to his teachings inside the church) for daring to publicly support the ordination of women and to offer remarks in a ceremony ordaining a woman as priest.
Roy Bourgeois isn't just any priest. He is, along with John Dear and Sister Joan Chittister, one of the most courageous Catholic voices for peace and non-violence and the founder and leader of the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW). The ultimatum and ex-communication would be effective the day before the annual demonstration of the SOAW at Fort Bennings where the School of the Americas is housed and where it trains South and Central American police forces in the techniques of torture, repression, and counter-insurgency. We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives have been calling for support for this demonstration which begins on Friday and goes till Sunday (if you happen to be coming to the demonstration and would help us distribute information or sit at our table to help us get the word out about our Global Marshall Plan campaign, please let us know by email).
So the Inquisition will now in one fell swoop be able to rid itself of the progressive Catholic who has created the most important spiritual progressive demonstration taking place anywhere in the country for peace and against torture, and simultaneously terrify other priests into not daring to question the Church's doctrines of women. It should be noted that the very progressive teachings of the Church against war and poverty have not served as a basis for the excommunication of any priest or other church officials who have publicly supported the US war in Iraq or Afghanistan or supported the notion of a violent war against terror. The Inquisition answers to no one,and so its arbitrary power is used against those who support progressive causes, but not against those who support authoritarian and reactionary and violent causes.
We urge all those who feel strongly opposed to this attempt to silence dissent within the Church and to oust its most celebrated peace-priest to take the following steps:
1. Write to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, Rome, Italy and protest.
2. Write to your local newspapers and protest.
3. Write to your local Catholic church and priests and protest.
4. Write to the National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, and to national news sources like the NY Times and Washington Post and CNN and NPR and let them know that the NSP is protesting this move against Father Bourgeois and re-affirming our commitment to equal rights for women plus our commitment to strengthen the demonstrations in Fort Benning until the training of this sort is stopped and made illegal in the U.S.
Catholic priest faces excommunication
In August, Father Bourgeois joined a ceremony in a Unitarian Universalist church in Lexington, Ky., in which a friend from the peace movement, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, claimed ordination as a Roman Catholic priest. Father Bourgeois gave the homily and laid hands on her.
He had known that excommunication was possible but said he thought it unlikely. His order summoned him to headquarters and gave him a warning but did not discipline him.
Then he received a letter dated Oct. 21 from the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, warning that if he did not recant, in writing, he would be excommunicated within 30 days.
“When I got the actual letter, I had to sit down,” he said. “I felt nauseous. I thought, this is serious stuff. The first thought that came to mind was, How am I going to explain this to my dad and my family?”
After weeks of prayer, Father Bourgeois informed the Vatican that he would not repent.
Roy Bourgeois threatened with excommunication
Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been threatened with excommunication by the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for his support of women’s ordination, according to a letter made public today.
The letter was written by Bourgeois and addressed to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. It was distributed via e-mail by Bill Quigley, a New Orleans lawyer who represents Bourgeois.
According to Bourgeois’ letter, which is dated Nov. 7, the congregation has given him 30 days to recant his “belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church, or (he) will be excommunicated.”
The letter indicates that Bourgeois received notification from the congregation Oct. 21.
Bourgeois, a priest for 36 years, attended the ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska in Lexingon, Ky., Aug. 9 and preached a homily.
If Bourgeois is excommunicated at the end of 30 days, it would come just before the mass rally and protest against the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., that Bourgeois has organized for 19 years. In recent years, more than 15,000 people, many of them Catholic university students, have joined the three daylong rally and demonstration.
Bourgeois was not immediately available for comment. The text of Bourgeois’ letter follows.
Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
PO Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903
November 7, 2008
TO THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, THE VATICAN
I was very saddened by your letter dated October 21, 2008, giving me 30 days to recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church, or I will be excommunicated.
I have been a Catholic priest for 36 years and have a deep love for my Church and ministry.
When I was a young man in the military, I felt God was calling me to the priesthood. I entered Maryknoll and was ordained in 1972.
Over the years I have met a number of women in our Church who, like me, feel called by God to the priesthood. You, our Church leaders at the Vatican, tell us that women cannot be ordained.
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.
As people of faith, we profess that the invitation to the ministry of priesthood comes from God. We profess that God is the Source of life and created men and women of equal stature and dignity. The current Catholic Church doctrine on the ordination of women implies our loving and all-powerful God, Creator of heaven and earth, somehow cannot empower a woman to be a priest.
Women in our Church are telling us that God is calling them to the priesthood. Who are we, as men, to say to women, “Our call is valid, but yours is not.” Who are we to tamper with God’s call?
Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard or how long we may try to justify discrimination, in the end, it is always immoral.
Hundreds of Catholic churches in the U.S. are closing because of a shortage of priests. Yet there are hundreds of committed and prophetic women telling us that God is calling them to serve our Church as priests.
If we are to have a vibrant, healthy Church rooted in the teachings of our Savior, we need the faith, wisdom, experience, compassion and courage of women in the priesthood.
Conscience is very sacred. Conscience gives us a sense of right and wrong and urges us to do the right thing. Conscience is what compelled Franz Jagerstatter, a humble Austrian farmer, husband and father of four young children, to refuse to join Hitler’s army, which led to his execution. Conscience is what compelled Rosa Parks to say she could no longer sit in the back of the bus. Conscience is what compels women in our Church to say they cannot be silent and deny their call from God to the priesthood. Conscience is what compelled my dear mother and father, now 95, to always strive to do the right things as faithful Catholics raising four children. And after much prayer, reflection and discernment, it is my conscience that compels me to do the right thing. I cannot recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church.
Working and struggling for peace and justice are an integral part of our faith. For this reason, I speak out against the war in Iraq. And for the last eighteen years, I have been speaking out against the atrocities and suffering caused by the School of the Americas (SOA). Eight years ago, while in Rome for a conference on peace and justice, I was invited to speak about the SOA on Vatican Radio. During the interview, I stated that I could not address the injustice of the SOA and remain silent about injustice in my Church. I ended the interview by saying, “There will never be justice in the Catholic Church until women can be ordained.” I remain committed to this belief today.
Having an all male clergy implies that men are worthy to be Catholic priests, but women are not.
According to USA TODAY (Feb. 28, 2008) in the United States alone, nearly 5,000 Catholic priests have sexually abused more than 12,000 children. Many bishops, aware of the abuse, remained silent. These priests and bishops were not excommunicated. Yet the women in our Church who are called by God and are ordained to serve God’s people, and the priests and bishops who support them, are excommunicated.
Silence is the voice of complicity. Therefore, I call on all Catholics, fellow priests, bishops, Pope Benedict XVI and all Church leaders at the Vatican, to speak loudly on this grave injustice of excluding women from the priesthood.
Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated because of his defense of the oppressed. He said, “Let those who have a voice, speak out for the voiceless.”
Our loving God has given us a voice. Let us speak clearly and boldly and walk in solidarity as Jesus would, with the women in our Church who are being called by God to the priesthood.
In Peace and Justice,
Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
PO Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903
Fr. Roy Bourgeois - End All Torture, No Exceptions
Are plants entitled to anarchy also? Do you reckon nature will sort it all out in the end? Does it matter if lantana chokes out native plants?
Should anarchy reign in the plant world?
And then there are animals of course. Would it be OK for your roaming-free persons to bring along some elephants, buffalo, wildebeest, iberian lynxes, greater bamboo lemurs, etc, to keep them company?
Should there be animal anarchy or is it restricted to humans? After all, I share 85% of my genes with my dog. So he's almost human. Or I'm almost dog, one or the other.
In any event he's definitely an anarchist dog.
Smashing the state one dog at a time
And then rolled over for me.