Magazine article In These Times

The Rebel Feminist Priest

Magazine article In These Times

The Rebel Feminist Priest

Article excerpt

THE VATICAN'S OUTRAGE at American priest Roy Bourgeois for publicly supporting the ordination of women to the priesthood has nearly reached its final stage: removal from the priesthood ("laicization") and expulsion from the Catholic missionary order Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, which ordained him 39 years ago.

Bourgeois has repeatedly charged the Church with sexism for refusing to recognize women's ordination, which he considers a "call from God." In 1994, Pope John Paul II declared women's ordination forbidden and proclaimed that "there will be no more discussion." The Vatican and Pope Benedict XVT have declared the proclamation "infallible," the unalterable word of God.

Regardless of whether he is laicized, Bourgeois will continue to act as head of SOA Watch, the group he helped found in 1990 that aims to close the U.S. Army s School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Ga. (In 2001, the school was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.) The school is infamous for training Latin American military officers, many of whom have been involved in military coups and dictatorships. Bourgeois has served nearly five years in prison for nonviolent protest.

"[Bourgeois] will be a part of the movement ... even if Maryknoll is going to follow through with this," Henrik Voss, national organizer for SOA Watch, told the National Catholic Reporter on March 29. SOA Watch takes no stance on political or religious issues, and confines itself to demanding the closing of SOA/WHITSEC and supporting human rights in Latin America.

Maryknoll, a longtime financial supporter of SOA Watch, suspended its $17,000 grant to the group in 2010. After being assured that SOA Watch does not advocate for women's ordination, the organization restored the funds. Financial support for SOA Watch will continue even if Bourgeois is laicized, according to Mike Virgintino, director of publicity and marketing for the Maryknoll Order. …

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