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The Sad End of the Priestly Ministry of Mr. Roy Bourgeois
By Deacon Keith Fournier
November 21st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Disobedience and preaching against the teaching of the Catholic Church about women's ordination led to his excommunication, dismissal and laicization. Then Fr. Bourgeois engaged in an obstinate crusade which involved public and direct defiance of the Holy See and a repudiation of the unbroken teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church concerning sacred ordination.
MARYKNOLL, N.Y. (Catholic Online) - The short Press Release from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers confirmed some sad news on Monday, November 19, 2012. The priestly ministry of Roy Bourgeois has come to an end:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith Canonically Dismisses Roy Bourgeois
Nov. 19, 2012: The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on October 4, 2012, canonically dismissed Roy Bourgeois from the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, also known as the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. The decision dispenses the Maryknoll priest from his sacred bonds.
Few Press sources have reported on this sad news. The National catholic Reporter (NCR) which calls itself an "Independent News Source", carried an article by Joshua J. McElwee entitled "Maryknoll: Vatican has dismissed Roy Bourgeois from order" The article began by acknowledging the dismissed cleric's role as a "longtime peace activist".
There are many "longtime peace activist" members of the clergy who stay obedient to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. Sadly, after 45 years in the Maryknoll community and 39 years as a priest of the Catholic Church, this one did not and he is now referred to as Mr. Bourgeois.
Mr. Roy Bourgeois was ordained to the priesthood in 1972. From the beginning of his priestly ministry he worked with the poor and the oppressed. He took public and sometimes controversial stands against Latin American leaders who did not respect human dignity and seemed to have little concern for the oppressed or the poor.
He founded the "School of the America's Watch" in 1990 to call attention to what he long maintained was American complicity in some of the very unjust activities he had dedicated his life and ministry to exposing, opposing and changing.
Up to that point, Catholics of various political persuasions could - and often did - disagree with him and his leftist political leanings. However, he was within his rights to engage in that work. He had not veered from Catholic teaching in so doing.
However, all that changed on August 9, 2008 when Fr. Bourgeois chose to become a "concelebrant" and homilist at the attempted ordination to the "priesthood" of Janice Sevre-Duszynska. The attempted "ordination" occurred at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lexington, KY.
Then Fr. Bourgeois engaged in an obstinate crusade which involved public and direct defiance of the Holy See and a repudiation of the unbroken teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church concerning sacred ordination.
He received a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which explained his errors with a genuine concern for his salvation. It gave him a time period within which to recant his "belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church, or (he) will be excommunicated."
That action followed overt, repeated, defiant and public rejection of efforts from the leadership within his own religious community to return him to full fidelity with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
His letter of response to the Holy See was defiant and dismissive. It was also poorly written and failed to answer the clear teaching of the Church, choosing instead to engage in polemical advocacy.
So, by his own choice and action he incurred what is called under Canon Law a latae sententiae, or automatic, excommunication from the Church. The purpose of any excommunication is remedial. It is hoped that the one who incurs it will seriously consider their action, turn back to the Lord and seek full communion with His Church.
Mr. Bourgeois did no such thing.
On May 22, 1994, Blessed John Paul II released an apostolic letter, addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church entitled "On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone" (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis)
"Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force."
"Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."
The arguments against this clear and authoritative teaching sometimes come from people who do not understand that the priesthood is not a job and have succumbed to the "rights" mentality of the current age. Other times they come from people who have no understanding of the sacramental nature of the Church and the real meaning of the ministerial priesthood.
Both groups may include among them Catholics who, as in too many other areas of doctrine, have not been properly catechized. However, there are those who know the teaching and its authoritative nature but have willfully chosen to publicly dissent and lead others astray.
Sadly, that was the approach taken by Mr. Bourgeois.
The Superiors of the Maryknoll Religious community issued a Canonical Warning of his pending expulsion from the Religious Order. It contained these words: "Since the September 27, 2008 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was received we have been in communication with you via letter, and at least two meetings where you were ordered to recant your public views on the ordination of women priests and clearly told not to participate in their meetings and public events."
"You were Excommunicated Latae Senteniae reserved to the Apostolic See because after a canonical warning by the Society in 2008 you failed to recant within the stated 30 days from contumacy and disregard for the Magisterium of the Church on the matter of women's ordination (of. 1347 CIC)."
"According to our documentation, you continued to speak publicly in favor of women's ordination in disobedience to the explicit instructions of your Superiors and recently participated (Feb. 12, 2011) in a panel of speakers following the showing of the film "Pink Smoke over the Vatican" at Barnard College in New York City."
"Sufficient time has now passed for you to consider the gravity of the matter. You are hereby asked one final time by the Superior General and his Council to publicly recant and accept the teaching of the Church on this serious matter concerning priestly ordination and the explicit teaching of the Church. If you fail to comply within fifteen (15) days of receipt of this first canonical warning, I will issue a second canonical warning."
"If you fail to respond to the second canonical warning, I will proceed with dismissal by submitting evidence of your contumacy as a priest who publicly rejects the teaching of the Holy Father (C. 1371), also a priest who acted illegitimately in "communicátio in sacris"-such as participation in an invalid ordination ceremony of a woman (C. 1384). "Concelebrating" Mass with women analogous to simulation of the Eucharist (C. 1379), giving scandal to the Christian faithful in a serious mailer over a two-year period (C.1399) and Disobedience to the instructions and warnings of your legitimate Superiors and the Apostolic See (C. 601; Mk Const. 40). The dismissal will be submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for confirmation with a request for laicization."
Sadly, he did not properly respond. He was dismissed from the Maryknolls for what the Superior General of the order called his "defiant stance". In a letter of dismissal the Superior wrote "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". Finally, the Superior noted that Fr Bourgeois had caused "grave scandal."
The priest then told the press, "They want two words: I recant...And they can't get that out of me. For me, the real scandal is the message we are sending to women: you're not equal, you cannot be priests, you're not worthy."
He hired a canon lawyer to defend him. The matter moved to the Vatican for his possible dismissal from priestly ministry. Now, the sad affair has come to an end. The Maryknoll Superiors showed him the respect and fraternal concern that all of those years of his participation and service merited.
These words, contained within the Press release, demonstrate the charity appropriate to this situation, "With this parting, the Maryknoll Society warmly thanks Roy Bourgeois for his service to mission and all members wish him well in his personal life. In the spirit of equity and charity, Maryknoll will assist Mr. Bourgeois with this transition."
We invite our readers to pray for Mr. Bourgeois.
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