Friday, November 23, 2012

More Catholic News: Father Roy Bourgeois Defrocked for Supporting Women's Ordination

And yet more Catholics-in-the-news news:

As Tom Roberts reports several days ago for National Catholic Reporter, they finally got him.  "They" is the Vatican; "him" is Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois, who has just been defrocked by Rome for supporting the ordination of women.  Here's Bourgeois's sin in the eyes of the Vatican, Roberts points out:

Bourgeois spent the first part of his life working with the poor and victimized in Vietnam as a naval officer there and later, as a priest, with the marginalized in Bolivia and El Salvador. 
Still later, he would set up shop in a tiny apartment outside the gates of Fort Benning, Ga., opposing the U.S. School of the Americas (since renamed) and its program of teaching anti-insurgency techniques, including torture, to the militaries of Latin American regimes notorious for horrible human rights abuses. 
Bourgeois was not into clerical career advancement. He didn't curry favor with the correct think tanks or develop the proper relationships with the guys in purple and red. 
He just did the kinds of things that make people nervous, questioning those otherwise viewed as guarantors of our security, and attracting thousands every year to confess our national sins. 
But worst of all, he began speaking to women and he allowed himself to be convinced. They should be permitted to become priests, he said. Not quietly, as do lots of priests and some bishops, but openly. The question of women and their place in the church should be open to discussion, he kept saying.

Meanwhile, as Roberts notes, no punishment at all was ever meted out to Cardinals Bevilacqua and Rigali for their years of hiding pedophile priests in Philadelphia and foisting them on unsuspecting parishioners.  Cardinal Law was "punished" by being brought to Rome and given a cushy Vatican position where he wields enormous power.  The U.S. bishops have just met with a convicted criminal in their midst, Bishop Finn of Kansas City, and said not a word about Finn's crimes or his presence in their midst as they delivered moral teaching to the faithful.

But Father Bourgeois was quickly and decisively punished by Catholic officials merely for asking that the church reconsider its mutable, historically developed ban on ordaining women.  From a moral standpoint, something is exceptionally rotten in this story--and in the lives and behavior of men exercising "pastoral" leadership who can come to such conclusions.

Father Bourgeois's statement on his defrocking, via Michael Bayly's Progressive Catholic Voice blog:

The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church. The demand for gender equality is rooted in justice and dignity and will not go away.

History will vindicate Roy Bourgeois and those with whom he stands in solidarity.  But not before the men now leading the Catholic church, along with their allied political-religious watchdog groups funded by unnamed big-money donors, will have done very serious damage to the Catholic brand.

And not in time to reverse the pain and suffering being inflicted on Bourgeois and other Catholics courageous enough to speak out about the demand to pursue equality of all kinds, if we truly follow Jesus and live by the dictates of the gospels.

P.S. A question to a reader of this blog, Squinchpix, who persistently attacks me for telling the truth about the misery unjust homophobic structures in church and society inflict on gay and lesbian persons: is Tom Roberts unloving and unforgiving for telling the truth about what Catholic church leaders are doing to Father Roy Bourgeois, and what the fails to do to bishops shielding child molesters?

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