National Catholic Register


Maryknoll: 'Excommunicated'

BY Tom Hoopes

| Posted 12/10/08 at 3:08 PM


I just got off the phone with Betsey Guest, spokeswoman for the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in New York, to ask about the reported excommunication of one of their priests for participating in an attempt to ordain women. Here’s the raw interview:

Does Maryknoll consider Father Roy Bourgeois to be excommunicated?
“We believe that he has been excommunicated. This was done by the CDF, not by us.”

As of today, Dec. 10?

Have you heard from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about it?
“There has been no direct communication from the CDF regarding that.”

Then why do you consider him excommunicated?
“Because he was given 30 days to recant his actions, and he had responded saying that he could not recant those actions, he has been excommunicated at the end of that” period of time.

Is there usually a communication in cases like these?
She said she had no idea, but reiterated that Maryknoll leaders “have not received any formal notification to that effect and are in fact awaiting a response from the CDF to Father Bourgeois’s letter sent Nov. 13.”

Is he still a member of Maryknoll?
“He’s still a member, but possibly open to possible further penalty. We don’t know whether that will take place or not. We have not had official word.”

So, any further penalty would be in the hands of the CDF and not the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers?
“We are awaiting their response.”

He can be excommunicated and still be a Maryknoll?
“He is still a Catholic.” Many people misunderstand what excommunication means, she said. “He is just prohibited from receiving or administering the sacraments.”

Does the order regret the stance Father Bourgeois took on women’s ordination?
“We’re very saddened. The fathers and brothers are very saddened by the course of the events that have taken. He’s been a member of the family for 63 years. They give him their love and pastoral response.”

Yes, but does the order regret his stance on women’s ordination?
“We are saddened by the whole circumstance.”

Does Maryknoll have a stance on women’s ordination?
“Maryknoll has no official stance by the order.”

Either for or against?
“We have no official stance. The order follows the rules and regulations of the Catholic Church.”

How is Father Bourgeois taking the news?
“He does not live here at headquarters. His work is quite separate.”

Have you spoken to him personally?
“I have not.”

Where is he now?
“He lives outside Fort Benning, Ga. The School of the Americas Watch is his ministry. Peace and Justice work is his ministry. He speaks around the country on many issues of peace.”

How will this affect that work?
“It remains to be seen. This is all so new.”

— Tom Hoopes