The Sad End of the Priestly Ministry of Mr. Roy Bourgeois
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)
It is a short, succinct affirmation of the clear teaching of the Catholic Church which should be read by every Catholic - and any other Christian - who wants to understand the who, what, where and why of this entire question. There is no room for dissent, debate or disagreement on it.
The letter ends with these words:
"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.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Roy Bourgeois, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, School of the Americas, clerical state, congregation for the Clergy, priesthood, male priesthood, Maryknolls, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Deacon Keith Fournier
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