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Roman Catholic Activists in Rome

Father Roy Bougeois poses with (l-r) Deacon Donna Rougeux, Priests Ree Hudson and Janice Sevre-Duszynska in front of the Vatican, October 17, 2011.

Some senior leaders are willing to pay an enormous price in order that women might follow their calling. Roy Bourgeois was excommunicated and expelled from the priesthood for consistly advocating the ordination of women.  It is ironic that the Catholic Church, the most patriarchal of all churches, finds no theological objections to women’s ordination, just that of tradition.

“It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate. Wikipedia

It would seem that this is also the case with the LCA, given that the CTICR comes to a similar position.

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Roy Bourgeois tells his story – N.Y.Times

 
 

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In my lifetime – my mantra and mission

Marybeth Redmond, Vermont Public Radio

Women’s ordination is a real issue in the Catholic Church, especially in the U.S.A.  The love that parishioners have for nuns suggests that this issue will not disappear.

The following story (link), from Vermont Public Radio, and partly a reflection on Father Roy Bourgeous, is another story of calling to ordained ministry. The link has an audio recording of the article.

(Host) For writer, journalist and commentator Marybeth Redmond, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has restimulated feelings of heartache, not for the Pontiff himself, but for a friend of hers who met the wrath of this church hierarchy.

(Redmond) A heartfelt postcard arrived in my mailbox recently.  On its cover – a photograph of a Catholic school girl dressed in her plaid uniform with hand raised high, as if to say “pick me.” On the chalkboard behind this earnest youngster are scrawled the words, “who wants to be a priest?”

I grinned upon seeing it, but winced as well.   Appropriate humor from my friend, Father Roy Bourgeois, in light of his present circumstances.  On the postcard’s reverse side he had penned, “Thanks for your good support at this challenging time.  You give me hope in the struggle.”

In 2008, Father Roy was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church during Pope Benedict XVI’s reign. Then last October, Father Roy was dismissed by his religious society of 40-plus years, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, for refusing to recant his public position on the right of women to be ordained priests. Most likely pressure from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith forced Maryknoll’s hand.

I recall a lunch conversation with this humble, soft-spoken priest a few years back.  We sat overlooking Lake Champlain eating crepes on a breathtaking day.  Father Roy was in town to speak at the Unitarian Church atop Church Street in Burlington about his decades-long campaign to close the School of the Americas, a military camp in Fort Benning, Georgia with a history of training Latin American militias in torture.

At that time, colleagues were advising Father Roy to stay a one-issue activist, so as not to dissipate his message of non-violent protest to close the S-O-A.  But his conscience was advising him otherwise-as a male clergyman-to decry sexism and discrimination against women in his own church.  To Father Roy, this was a matter of justice, and silence for him was complicity.  He wanted my opinion.  I listened carefully as he spoke, sure I was witnessing history unfold.

Maybe Pope Benedict didn’t personally demand Father’s Roy’s excommunication, but he certainly set up and supported the system that led to the ultimate decision.  I am immensely sad that this church I still call home definitively rid itself of a faithful, 75-year-old man who has trekked across this country with messages of peace and inclusion for decades.  At the same time, that Catholic Church has kept in its fold cardinals and bishops who protected priests responsible for the sexual abuse of children.  The irony is astounding.

I myself recall as early as 8 years old, having a compulsion to serve others, to bring mercy, to deliver words of hope – to become a priest.  I was told this vocation was closed to me forever because of gender-despite my own stirrings of conscience.

This day, I took Father Roy’s Catholic school girl postcard to my refrigerator where I can peer at it each day.  In my lifetime, becomes my mantra and mission now.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in women's ordination

 

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Editorial: Ordination of women would correct an injustice | National Catholic Reporter

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Breaking news! In a historic move, the National Catholic Reporter announced its public endorsement of women’s ordination! Please take a moment to thank NCR staff for being a prophetic voice & standing with the majority of Catholics who believe women should be ordained as priests! Women’s Ordination Conference Facebook page

This is quite a day.  National Catholic Reporter (NCR) in the U.S., while having supported women’s ordination for a while, has now publicly endorsed women’s ordination.  It makes its stance quite clear.

The call to the priesthood is a gift from God. It is rooted in baptism and is called forth and affirmed by the community because it is authentic and evident in the person as a charism. Catholic women who have discerned a call to the priesthood and have had that call affirmed by the community should be ordained in the Roman Catholic church. Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand. Editorial: Ordination of women would correct an injustice | National Catholic Reporter.

NCR’s public stance appears to be precipitated by a Nov. 19 press release from the Vatican of Roy Bourgeois‘ “excommunication, dismissal and laicization” “from the Maryknoll order following his participation in the ordination of Roman Catholic Womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska in August 2008.” ref

The similarities with the LCA are interesting.
1.

In April 1976 the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded unanimously: “It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.” In further deliberation, the commission voted 12-5 in favor of the view that Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women, and 12-5 in favor of the view that the church could ordain women to the priesthood without going against Christ’s original intentions.

… while the LCA’s CTICR voted with a 2/3 majority in 200o and 2006 with similar wording.

2. After the 1976 Pontifical Biblical Commission the current and previous Pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith upped the ante, ignored the statement and declared the exclusion of women from the priesthood as, first, “irreformable” and then as belonging “to the deposit of the faith.”  This association with being “founded on the word of God” was trying to “stop all discussion”.

In the LCA, Pr Semmler ignores the CTICR recommendations of 2000 and 2006 and has decreed that public discussion on women’s ordination should stop because it doesn’t uphold the current position of the Church.

3. Benedict and John Paul both decreed that women cannot be ordained, despite the 1976 statement from the Pontifical Biblical Commission but laity of the Catholic Church support it.

Pr Semmler, Pr Greg Lockwood, Pr John Kleinig, Pr Andrew Pfeiffer state that women cannot be ordained, while laity are in favour.

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The gathering of the perfect storm

The church would like to think that it stands for eternal unchanging values. Well, yes … but change is in the air in striking ways, and not just in one or two churches.  The groundswell among laity and (often) clergy is overwhelming but the resistance from those who hold the reigns of power is strikingly alike. Power and authority is a tough thing to give up.

Rome has criticised US Catholic nuns for working too closely with the poor and not speaking loudly enough about birth control and homosexuality. While nuns say that they will not compromise their mission three Catholic bishops are in talks with the nuns in hope to find agreement. Bishops and Nuns hold ‘cordial and open’ meeting

A Maryknoll priest has been dismissed from the priesthood for refusing to recant his call for the ordination of women.  Maryknoll: Vatican has dismissed Roy Bourgeois from order | National Catholic Reporter.

While the Church of England votes against ordaining women bishops, down in Africa Anglicans have ordained their first woman bishop.

Seventh Day Adventists have voted to ordain women at all levels of their organisation except for the General Conference leadership, which focusses simply on organisational unity.  Why women’s ordination in the Seventh Day Adventist churches?

I guess you’ve heard of Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church. This link records convictions against Australian Catholic  priests and religious brothers but we know the abuse has occurred around the world.  Meanwhile the church declares that it has “taken decisive steps in the past 20 years to make child safety a priority and to help the victims of abuse,”  yet, the abuse continues.  Why is it that a supporter of women’s ordination is dismissed while child abusers are not?

The church is in turmoil.  These are pivotal days.  Without engaging with our changing culture we are a lost people and a lost church.

 
 

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