Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois last year faced excommunication from the Vatican because of his decision to take part in the ordination of a women as a priest.
After taking part in the female ordination, he was given a certain amount of time to recant his role or be excommunicated but he refused and it was assumed he was subsequently automatically excommunicated after that time had elapsed.
Well one enterprising columnist Gary Stern from LoHud.com called the priest and boy did he get an earful. Firstly, Fr. Bourgeois doesn’t consider himself excommunicated.
Bourgeois told me that he has not heard from the Vatican since the fall. Not a note, an e-mail, nothing. So he is continuing to celebrate Mass and baptize babies.
“I have not gotten anything saying I am defrocked,” he said. “I continue to be a Catholic priest in good standing.”
Hmmm. Two months ago, Maryknoll’s superior general, the Rev. Edward M. Dougherty, issued a statement saying that Bourgeois had been “automatically excommunicated” when he did not meet the Vatican’s deadline to recant.
I contacted Maryknoll this week, and they were taken aback that Bourgeois disagrees.
“We are surprised and are saddened that his actions may present an obstacle in the path toward his reconciliation with Church authorities,” a new statement said. “We are still hoping that he will reconsider his position and be reconciled with the Vatican, a hope that they also have expressed.”
Seeking clarification, I faxed a note to the Vatican press office. No response so far.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops would not touch this one.
Just for clarification, as of Dec. 10th of last year, Maryknoll considered Father Roy Bourgeois excommunicated, according to the National Catholic Register which wrote that day:
Q. Does Maryknoll consider Father Roy Bourgeois to be excommunicated?
A. “We believe that he has been excommunicated. This was done by the CDF, not by us.”
Q. As of today, Dec. 10?
Q. Have you heard from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about it?
A. “There has been no direct communication from the CDF regarding that.”
Q. Then why do you consider him excommunicated?
A. “Because he was given 30 days to recant his actions, and he had responded saying that he could not recant those actions, he has been excommunicated at the end of that” period of time.
But just yesterday Bourgeois was quoted in a piece about a protest group supporting Catholic female ordination in a separate newspaper account in The Monitor in which he is introduced as “Father Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest and founder of School of the Americas Watch, an activist group that monitors U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.”
All I can say is that this is a situation begging for clear closure. Someone better get this squared away because there very well may be an excommunicated priest celebrating Mass and baptizing babies which may not be valid (or at least licit.) The Church owes it to the people to straighten this matter out.
But not content to leave well enough alone, Bourgeois upped the ante again in speaking to the columnist from LoHud.com in comparing the Vatican to the Ayatollahs in Iran.
But bombastic language and Bourgeois are well acquainted. In the past, Bourgeois has compared himself to Rosa Parks and said that because he’d been a priest since 1972 he was owed a sit down with the Pope to convince him of the correctness of women’s ordination. Here’s what was written this week by the LoHud.com columnist:
When I spoke to Bourgeois this week, he compared the Catholic Church’s unwillingness to ordain women as priests to the Iranian regime’s authoritative approach to crowd control.
“We, as men, claim this divine right to interpret the will of God, and it’s similar to what the ayatollahs are saying,” he told me.
Bourgeois then added that he believes the Vatican is guilty of “outdated sexism” and a “sin” for their failure to follow Bourgeois’ lead in ordaining women. Bourgeois said: “The exclusion of women is a grave injustice and a sin…This is a movement whose time has come. It’s not going away.” And nor does it seem will Bourgeois anytime soon.