Priest Contests Excommunication

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

A priest facing excommunication for his participation in an ordination rite for women has announced plans to travel to the Vatican to appeal the decision “with a contingent of fellow priests and a bishop.”

Fr. Roy Bourgeois, MM, a Maryknoll priest who gave the homily during the “ordination” of Janice Sevre-Duszynska in Lexington, Kentucky on Aug. 9, was notified by the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) on October 21 that he had 30 days to recant his “belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church, or (he) will be excommunicated.”

Fr. Bourgeois responded to the order with a letter addressed to the CDF which he made public on Nov. 11 saying he “was very saddened” by the news of his impending excommunication but refused to recant his position.

“With all due respect,” he writes, “I believe our Catholic Church’s teaching on this issue is wrong and does not stand up to scrutiny.”

He goes on to say that as people of faith, we profess that the invitation to the ministry of priesthood comes from God. “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.”

Fr. Bourgeois says he believes “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.”

One of his reasons for supporting female ordination is to offset shrinking vocations in this country.

“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.”

Fr. Bourgeois will now take his appeal to Rome. He has not yet named the priest and bishop who will be accompanying him.

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