With great sadness we letting you know that the Vatican has dismissed Father Roy Bourgeois from the priesthood and from his religious order, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, because of his stands for gender equality in the Catholic Church. Father Roy has served with great courage and commitment for 45 years. He has dedicated his life to serving the poor and oppressed, those whose human rights have been violated by dictators, assassins, torturers, bullies, and racists.
Father Roy has lived this mission throughout his life by engaging a deep commitment to solidarity in the pursuit of justice. He has explored the boundaries of solidarity with Latin America, pushing himself and the movement into deeper relationships with those most impacted by U.S. foreign policy. He has spent four years in prison for nonviolent protests against the SOA. While defending human rights in Bolivia he was beaten, and in El Salvador he was detained, barely escaping with his life. But he continued.
Later his conscience called him to defend the right of women to participate fully in the Catholic Church, to follow their call to become priests. The Vatican demanded that he recant, but as he said, how can I deny what I believe to be true? I must follow my conscience. And he continued.
Over the decades Father Roy has been consistent in following one single path— that of defending the rights of others, even when this placed his own life and well-being in jeopardy. He has never strayed from this path.
Father Roy sees solidarity as a foundation to creating change but also fundamental to being human. The ability to empathize and take seriously the struggles of others is not just an organizing tactic. It is what allows us to be a presence of radical love, struggling to transform a world fraught with injustice. It is no surprise to the SOA Watch community that his commitment to solidarity would also extend to include the concerns of his Church and that Father Roy would feel compelled to act.
We support and honor Roy's decision to follow his conscience. As a movement based in civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance for over 20 years we understand the role of discernment and conscience as sacred. We support the right of individuals to choose to speak truth to power and we stand by them when power chooses to punish rather than listen. As a community committed to justice we support the struggles of people everywhere to change oppressive systems and challenge inequities.
Please stand with Father Roy at this moment just as he has bravely stood with us and people throughout the Americas and the Caribbean for four decades.
November 20, 2012
STATEMENT BY FATHER ROY BOURGEOIS ABOUT HIS DISMISSAL FROM MARYKNOLL
I have been a Catholic priest in the Maryknoll community for 40 years. As a young man I joined Maryknoll because of its work for justice and equality in the world. To be expelled from Maryknoll and the priesthood for believing that women are also called to be priests is very difficult and painful.
The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church. The demand for gender equality is rooted in justice and dignity and will not go away.
As Catholics, we profess that God created men and women of equal worth and dignity. As priests, we profess that the call to the priesthood comes from God, only God. Who are we, as men, to say that our call from God is authentic, but God's call to women is not? The exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, our Church and our loving God who calls both men and women to be priests.
When there is an injustice, silence is the voice of complicity. My conscience compelled me to break my silence and address the sin of sexism in my Church. My only regret is that it took me so long to confront the issue of male power and domination in the Catholic Church.
I have explained my position on the ordination of women, and how I came to it, in my booklet, My Journey from Silence to Solidarity. Please go to: www.roybourgeoisjourney.org.