NCAN has issued the following press release regarding the Vatican's censure of Rev. Roy Bougeois. Support NCAN's work by donating through Paypal.
More than 100 Roman Catholic nuns from 22 religious congregations have written the Vatican protesting the threatened excommunication of Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest who publicly favors the ordination of women. In July, he participated in the ordination ceremony of a woman priest.
On October 21, 2008, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave Bourgeois 30 days to recant his belief and public statements supporting the priestly ordination of women or face excommunication. On Nov. 7, Bourgeois responded that he could not, in conscience, do so.
The nuns' Dec. 12 letter says the Vatican's action "has diminished our Church." They believe that "excommunications depend not on edicts or laws, but on compliance" by the faithful. If the faithful do not exclude or shun someone from the community, they are not excommunicated. The letter asserts that Bourgeois is not outside the community because they "embrace him wholeheartedly." The letter was organized by the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN).
"In the first century, Christians resolved their disagreements about following traditions such as circumcision and kosher dietary laws by dialogue and discussion," said Sister Beth Rindler, speaking for NCAN. "We need to follow their example by promoting public discussion about the ordination of women," the Franciscan Sister said.
"We hope the excommunication is not issued," said Dominican Sister Donna Quinn, one of the coordinators of NCAN. "The medieval punishment of excommunication serves only to embarrass our Church in the eyes of the world and fuels further anger and resentment among the U.S. faithful."
"Many of the signers have served the Church for more than 40 or 50 years. Many are prominent leaders in their fields," said Loretto Sister Jeannine Gramick, another NCAN coordinator. She pointed to Mercy Sister Theresa Kane, who made worldwide headlines when she asked Pope John Paul II to open all ministries to women on the occasion of his first visit to the U.S in 1979, and Dominican Sister Carol Coston, who founded Network, a Catholic social justice lobby. She also noted the signatures of Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, a prolific writer in the field of spirituality, Notre Dame Sister Ivone Gebara, a noted Brazilian feminist theologian, and Loretto Sister Maureen Fiedler, host of the public radio show Interfaith Voices.
The nuns' statement said they "join Fr. Roy Bourgeois and the majority of U.S. Catholics, who believe that women are called to priestly ordination in the Catholic Church." They "look forward to the day when Catholic women, following in the footsteps of Mary Magdalene, who announced the Resurrection to the male Apostles, will minister as full equals in our church."
The nuns' statement, together with 113 signatories, is below.
NATIONAL COALITION OF AMERICAN NUNS
FOUNDED TO STUDY AND SPEAK OUT ON ISSUES OF JUSTICE
IN CHURCH AND SOCIETY
12434 Klinger St., Detroit, MI 48212, 313-891-2192
Via FAX: 06.69.88.34.09
December 12, 2008
Cardinal William Joseph Levada
Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio 11
00193 Roma, Italy
Dear Cardinal Levada:
The Vatican’s threatened excommunication of Fr. Roy Bourgeois because of his belief in the priestly ordination of women has diminished our Church.
As women religious who love our Church and who have served the People of God for decades, we support our brother Roy. As a Maryknoll priest for 36 years, he has followed the Gospel of Jesus in his ministry for peace and justice by speaking out against the war in Iraq and against the torture of countless human beings, aided and abetted by the U.S. government’s School of the Americas. He has been a prophetic voice for thousands in our society.
Roy is now a prophetic voice in our church because of his support for women's equality in all Church ministries. Excommunications depend not on edicts or laws, but on compliance. We do not believe Roy is outside the community and we embrace him wholeheartedly. Like Roy, we know women who testify that they are called to priesthood. We know that Jesus did not discriminate in calling both women and men to ministry. And we know that our church needs the gifts of everyone called.
So we join Fr. Roy Bourgeois and the majority of U.S. Catholics, who believe that women are called to priestly ordination in the Catholic Church. We look forward to the day when Catholic women, following in the footsteps of Mary Magdalene who announced the Resurrection to the male Apostles, will minister as full equals in our church.
Jean Ackerman, OP
Connie Kelly, SC