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Bourgeois dismissed from priesthood

WASHINGTON - The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has dismissed Roy Bourgeois from the priesthood because of his participation in the invalid ordination of a woman and "a simulated Mass," the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers announced Nov. 19.

The order said in a statement the canonical dismissal came Oct. 4.

Citing Bourgeois' participation in the invalid ordination in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 9, 2008, the Maryknoll statement said, "With patience, the Holy See and the Maryknoll Society have encouraged his reconciliation with the Catholic Church."

Bourgeois could not be immediately reached for comment.

"Instead, Mr. Bourgeois chose to campaign against the teachings of the Catholic Church in secular and non-Catholic venues," the statement said. "This was done without the permission of the local U.S. Catholic bishops and while ignoring the sensitivities of the faithful across the country. Disobedience and preaching against the teaching of the Catholic Church about women's ordination led to his excommunication, dismissal and laicization."

The church holds that it has no authority to ordain women. This year at his Holy Thursday chrism Mass at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the church's ban on women priests.

The Maryknoll statement said, "Mr. Bourgeois freely chose his views and actions, and all the members of the Maryknoll Society are saddened at the failure of reconciliation. 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," the statement concluded.

Maryknoll spokesman Mike Virgintino declined further comment in a brief interview with Catholic News Service.

Bourgeois first gained the attention of Vatican authorities after participating in the attempted ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynskaa sponsored by Roman Catholic Womenpriests Aug. 9, 2008, in Kentucky. In a meeting with his Maryknoll superiors nine days after the ceremony, he received a canonical warning related to his role. At the time, then-Father Bourgeois said he hoped the issue was settled because he had no intention of participating in any other such event.

Subsequently, he spoke about his support for women's ordination, saying it was a matter of sexism within the church that caused him to speak out.

The former priest was excommunicated Nov. 24, 2008, "latae sententiae" - automatically - for not recanting his public statements supporting the ordination of women. He has said that his beliefs are based on his understanding of justice and equality as expressed in the Gospel, but the Catholic Church teaches it cannot ordain women because Jesus chose only men to be his apostles.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970