Fr. Roy Bourgeois Refuses to Recant  
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Roy Bourgeois

Fr. Roy Bourgeois Refuses to Recant

Rev. Edward Dougherty, M.M., Superior General And My Maryknoll Community
P.O. Box 303
Maryknoll, NY 10545
August 8, 2011

My Brothers,

I have been a Catholic priest for 39 years and Maryknoll has been my faith community, my family. So it was with great sadness that I received your letter of July 27, 2011 (Second Canonical Warning), stating I must recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women, or I will be dismissed from Maryknoll.

In my ministry over the years I have met many devout women in our Church who believe God is calling them to be priests. Why wouldn't they be called? God created men and women of equal dignity and, as we all know, the call to be a priest comes from God.

My brothers, who are we to reject God's call of women to the priesthood? The Holy Scriptures remind us in Galatians 3 :28 "There is neither male nor female. In Christ Jesus you are one." How is it possible for us to say that our call from God, as men, is authentic, but God's call of women is not?

After much reflection, study, and prayer, I believe that our Church's teaching that excludes women from the priesthood defies both faith and reason and cannot stand up to scrutiny. This teaching has nothing to do with God, but with men, and is rooted in sexism. Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination against women, in the end, it is not the way of God, but of men who want to hold on to their power.

As people of faith we believe in the primacy of conscience. Our conscience connects us to the Divine. Our conscience gives us a sense of right and wrong and urges us to do what is right, what is just.
What you are asking me to do in your letter is not possible without betraying my conscience. In essence, you are telling me to lie and say I do not believe that God calls both men and women to the priesthood. This I cannot do, therefore I will not recant.

I firmly believe that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, against our Church, and against our God.

As you know, I am not a lone voice crying out in the wilderness for the ordination of women. Polls show that the majority of Catholics support having women priests in the Church. Many fellow priests tell me they believe women should be ordained, but are afraid to break their silence because of the consequences.

Many years ago as a young man in the military in Vietnam, I felt God was calling me to be a priest. I entered Maryknoll and found the happiness, meaning and hope I was seeking in life by following my call. Why should we deny this call from God - this opportunity - to women?

My brothers, in God's eyes there is neither male or female. We are one. Just as you and I were called to be priests by our loving God, women are also being called to serve our Church as priests. Let us welcome them and give thanks to God.

Your Brother In Christ,
Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
P.O. Box 3330 
Columbus, GA 31903 
TeVFax 706-682-5369 


Second Warning Letter from Maryknoll Superior under Pressure from Vatican 

Fathers and Brothers • Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, Inc. Office of General Council • PO Box 303 • Maryknoll, New York 10545-0303
Phone: (914) 941-7590· Fax: (914) 944-3600· E-mail:

Rev. Roy L. Bourgeois, M.M. P.O. Box 3330
Columbus, GA 31903

Second Canonical Warning  

Dear Father Bourgeois,

In accordance the provisions of canon law and the proper law of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society, you are hereby given the second canonical warning required by Canon 697.2.

We have been in communication with you since receiving the September 27,2008 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith resulting in your Excommunication Latae Sententiae reserved to the Holy See. You were warned at that time of possible dismissal if you continued your campaign in favor of women priests and failed to recant publicly your position on this matter. On March 18, 2011 you met again with the Maryknoll General Council and were warned of the dismissal process if you did not publicly change your views on the matter of women's ordination.

Your participation in the event in support of women priests at Barnard College in New York City on February 12, 2011 presents a clear act of disobedience of the explicit instructions of your Superiors and the warnings from the Holy See. Also, in the wake of continuing efforts over the last couple of months by your brother Maryknollers inviting you to consider the effects of your actions on the Society and the Church, you have remained unmoved.

The dismissal is based on your defiant stance as a Catholic priest who publicly rejects the Magisterium of the Church on the matter of priestly ordination (C.1371). Your public statements are directly opposed to the definitive letter of John Paul II in the Apostolic Letter "Ordination Sacerdotalis" #4. and in a response to a "dubium" on the matter, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated this Apostolic Letter "is to be understood as pertaining to the deposit of faith (cf. AAS 87 (1995); (C. 750:2 and C. 1371). 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, which as described above has ruled that your position is contrary to Church teachings. (C. 1399; C.696: 1)

Here, I remind you of the words of our former Superior General, Father John Sivalon in his letter to you on October 21, 2008. "I must remind you, Roy, that if you do not recant within thirty (30) canonical days, you will be automatically excommunicated (C.1331) and this will have ramifications for your membership in the Society."

If you fail to publicly recant and retract your stand on this issue of women's ordination, after excommunication and several warnings of your Superiors, within fifteen days of receipt of this second canonical warning, I will proceed with the process of dismissal. I will submit evidence of your violation of Canons 1371:2; 1384; 1379; 1399; 750; 908; 696:1.
Taking into consideration all of the Canons listed above, the reasons for the dismissal are in accordance with Canon 696: 1:
1. For obstinate disobedience to your legitimate Superiors in violation of Canon Law and your Oath to the Society and the Magisterium in a grave matter.
2. Grave scandal given to the people of God, the Church, especially in the United States, and scandal given to many of the Maryknoll priests and Brothers in a serious matter defined in Catholic doctrine, tradition and Canon Law.

3. Diffusion of teachings opposed to the definitive teaching of John Paul II and the Magisterium of the Church (Cf. Canon 1024; Ordinatio Sacerdotalis NA 1944, AAS87-1995,1114).
You have a right under the law to self-defense, including a Canonical counsel, and we are aware that you have engaged the services of Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C. as your counsel. You have a right to present to the Superior General, in person or in writing, your defense against the second canonical warning and the proposed dismissal within fifteen days of receipt of this warning. All your communications and responses will be given due consideration in the process.
Again, please be advised of the seriousness of this matter.
Given at Maryknoll, New York July 27,2011
Rev. Edward M. Dougherty  


Reflection of Bridget Mary Meehan of the Association of
Roman Catholic Women Priests

Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois is a prophet for justice and equality for women in the Roman Catholic Church.

I will never forget the ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska when Roy preached the homily and joined us around the altar to co-celebrate this liturgy. I knew then that Roy had crossed the line as he did so often for social justice for peace in our world. Yet, I had no idea at that time just how threatened the Vatican was by women priests.

It seems hard to comprehend that the Vatican covered up crimes by thousands of pedophiles worldwide, shuffled them from place to place and did not excommunicated them, yet excommunicated Fr. Roy and is threatening to throw him out of his order.

However, no matter what Maryknoll or the Vatican does, Roy Bourgeois will always be a priest of the people and a modern day prophet who follows the example of Jesus as he speaks truth to power and walks with his sisters in the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement.

The full equality of women is the voice of God in our time. Let's hope that one day Maryknoll and the Vatcian get it! It is time for Pink Smoke Over the Vatican!

Bridget Mary Meehan

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests


Inderdaad, stuitend, hoe de hierarchie via de codex macht uitoefent op geloofsovertuigingen. Het is zaak om opnieuw het 'sensus fidelium' breed te raadplegen tegenover de veronderstelde geloofszekerheid van het Vaticaan. Overigens is het blijkbaar niet eenvoudig om de katholieken nog tot 'opstand' te brengen...
Henk Kroon - Haarlem

Ook bij dit bericht kan men geen opmerkingen verwoorden die iets nieuw bevatten. Het optreden vanuit Rome, met uitstraling naar zelfs de leefgemeenschap van een betrokken priester, zuster of broeder, bevestigt wat Eugen Drewermann diagnosticeert. De individuele gelovige rest niets anders dan zich buiten de officiële kerkelijke kaders te verenigen. De bovenbouw van de kerk van Jezus, hiërarchie met curie, dient te verdwijnen. In onze westerse landen is het proces al goed op gang.
Jac van Dam - Nijmegen

Als er meer mensen als Pater Roy Bourgeois, in onze R.-K. Kerk, zouden zijn, zou er eindelijk eens op deze discriminatie iets veranderen. Ik ben hem heel dankbaar en heb alle respect voor hem. Voor hem en voor allen die hem dit aan doen moeten we bidden.
Mariette van den Boogaard-Koolen - De Meern

Alles wat van Boven komt, komt van Beneden, zei Kuitert. Het toont de betreklijheid van de woorden van het Vaticaan aan. Alles is betrekkelijk. Het is een slechte dialoog waarin met uitsluiting wordt gedreigd. Ik spreek graag mijn waardering uit voor Roy Bourgeois en zijn standpunt.
Frans Boddeke - Nijmegen

Op mijn oude (78!) dag ben ik bijzonder blij met het feit dat er kennelijk veel katholieken zijn die ook het priesterschap voor vrouwen gewenst en noodzakelijk vinden. Alleen al uit puur 'lijfsbehoud' zou de R.-K. Kerk zijn/haar(?) standpunt moeten herzien. Er is een geweldige leegloop, mede doordat er te weinig geïnspireerde voorgangers zijn. Laat (in Godsnaam?) ook vrouwen met inspiratie en liefde voor kerk en gelovigen toe tot het priesterschap. Zij zijn nog de enige mogelijkheid om de geweldige ontkerstening een halt tot te roepen. May your God bless you.
Ad van Empel - Geldrop

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