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Feb 20th
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Fr. Roy Bourgeois threatened with excommunication PDF Print E-mail

Fr.Roy Bourgeois
Fr. Roy Bourgeois
After participating in the recent ordination of former SOA Watch Prisoner of Consciece Janice Sevre-Duszynska, SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois received a letter from the Vatican. The letter stated that he had 30 days to recant his belief and public statements that support the ordination of women, or be excommunicated.  

After much reflection, Father Roy Bourgeois sent the below letter to the Vatican and is currently awaiting a response.

See actions to support Father Roy and a Democracy Now! interview with Father Roy on the bottom of this page.  


Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
PO Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903
November 7, 2008


I was very saddened by your letter dated October 21, 2008, giving me 30 days to recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church, or I will be excommunicated.

I have been a Catholic priest for 36 years and have a deep love for my Church and ministry.

When I was a young man in the military, I felt God was calling me to the priesthood. I entered Maryknoll and was ordained in 1972.

Over the years I have met a number of women in our Church who, like me, feel called by God to the priesthood. You, our Church leaders at the Vatican, tell us that women cannot be ordained.

With all due respect, I believe our Catholic Church’s teaching on this issue is wrong and does not stand up to scrutiny. A 1976 report by the Pontifical Biblical Commission supports the research of Scripture scholars, canon lawyers and many faithful Catholics who have studied and pondered the Scriptures and have concluded that there is no justification in the Bible for excluding women from the priesthood.

As people of faith, we profess that the invitation to the ministry of priesthood comes from God. We profess that God is the Source of life and created men and women of equal stature and dignity. The current Catholic Church doctrine on the ordination of women implies our loving and all-powerful God, Creator of heaven and earth, somehow cannot empower a woman to be a priest.

Women in our Church are telling us that God is calling them to the priesthood. Who are we, as men, to say to women, “Our call is valid, but yours is not.” Who are we to tamper with God’s call?

Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard or how long we may try to justify discrimination, in the end, it is always immoral.

Hundreds of Catholic churches in the U.S. are closing because of a shortage of priests. Yet there are hundreds of committed and prophetic women telling us that God is calling them to serve our Church as priests.

If we are to have a vibrant, healthy Church rooted in the teachings of our Savior, we need the faith, wisdom, experience, compassion and courage of women in the priesthood.

Conscience is very sacred. Conscience gives us a sense of right and wrong and urges us to do the right thing. Conscience is what compelled Franz Jagerstatter, a humble Austrian farmer, husband and father of four young children, to refuse to join Hitler’s army, which led to his execution. Conscience is what compelled Rosa Parks to say she could no longer sit in the back of the bus. Conscience is what compels women in our Church to say they cannot be silent and deny their call from God to the priesthood. Conscience is what compelled my dear mother and father, now 95, to always strive to do the right things as faithful Catholics raising four children. And after much prayer, reflection and discernment, it is my conscience that compels me to do the right thing. I cannot recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church.

Working and struggling for peace and justice are an integral part of our faith. For this reason, I speak out against the war in Iraq. And for the last eighteen years, I have been speaking out against the atrocities and suffering caused by the School of the Americas (SOA). Eight years ago, while in Rome for a conference on peace and justice, I was invited to speak about the SOA on Vatican Radio. During the interview, I stated that I could not address the injustice of the SOA and remain silent about injustice in my Church. I ended the interview by saying, “There will never be justice in the Catholic Church until women can be ordained.” I remain committed to this belief today.

Having an all male clergy implies that men are worthy to be Catholic priests, but women are not.

According to USA TODAY (Feb. 28, 2008) in the United States alone, nearly 5,000 Catholic priests have sexually abused more than 12,000 children. Many bishops, aware of the abuse, remained silent. These priests and bishops were not excommunicated. Yet the women in our Church who are called by God and are ordained to serve God’s people, and the priests and bishops who support them, are excommunicated.

Silence is the voice of complicity. Therefore, I call on all Catholics, fellow priests, bishops, Pope Benedict XVI and all Church leaders at the Vatican, to speak loudly on this grave injustice of excluding women from the priesthood.

Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated because of his defense of the oppressed. He said, “Let those who have a voice, speak out for the voiceless.”

Our loving God has given us a voice. Let us speak clearly and boldly and walk in solidarity as Jesus would, with the women in our Church who are being called by God to the priesthood.

In Peace and Justice,
Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
PO Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903


Support Father Roy

Some have asked for addresses to write their support of Fr. Roy and to ask that he not be excommunicated.  Petitions are also appropriate.
Please write or fax or email to Pope Benedict XVI, and/or the Pope’s Ambassador to the U.S., the Apostolic Nuncio, and/or the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, the group that is moving toward excommunication of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, and/or The leaders of the Maryknoll Order. 

Their addresses are below. 


Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W
Washington, DC, 20008
Telephone: (202) 333-7121
Fax: (202) 337-4036

Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano, Europe
The Pope’s email address (for English correspondence) is: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
FAX from USA:

Congregation for Doctrine of Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy

Please send a cc of any message or petitions you send to:
Bill Quigley – Attorney for Fr. Roy
7214 St. Charles Avenue, Box 902
New Orleans, LA 70118 or
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


Democray Now! Interview with Fr. Roy (Part 1)

Democray Now! Interview with Fr. Roy (Part 2)



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Comments (9)Add Comment
Father Roy Bourgeois should not be excommunicated
written by Laura Borst, February 04, 2009
Father Roy Bourgeois is a peaceful man who helped promote the equal participation of women in the Catholic Church, and he should not be excommunicated. Father Bourgeois has also stood up for human rights by leading the School of the Americas Watch, which exposes the teaching of repressive techniques such as torture to Latin American military and police officers, which is being done by the United States military at the School of the Americas, now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security and Cooperation. While the current Pope honors a Holocaust denier(Richard Williamson), it is really egregious that he would punish a priest for merely encouraging the equal participation of women in the Catholic Church.
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written by Patricia Dion, February 04, 2009
I am a firm believer that Father Roy was acting in solidarity with the poor and abused of Central and South America. Considering the number of innocent people who have died because of the current replacement for the SOA, his actions of protest are morally commendable. To excommunicate him would be a travesty of the highest moral order.
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Votes: +22
written by Megan Rice shcj, February 04, 2009
We are deeply saddened to speak with understatement, at the treatment by Church officials who should be in the ministry of genuine service to our world family, bringing healing, compassion and love in universal dimensions, Words cannot concey our disappointment and shame at the behaviour of Vatican leadership.

We carry on in coresponsibility as equal participants in serving the real needs of the world community.

Sincerely, Sr. Megan Rice, shcj
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Votes: +14
Remember, the orderly Authority of Christ., Lowly rated comment [Show]
written by george, February 19, 2009
Let us not forget the 3 "C's" of Catholicism: (1) CONTROL - control the people and what they believe, (2) CASH - get controlof their cash / give to the church, and (3) CONSTRUCTION - invest in more buildings that will be owned in Vatican City. It is a good old boy's club. I was born into a Catholic family and went to Catholic grade school, Catholic high school and one year Catholic college. I am over seventy years old and have now quit going to the Catholic church because it is all about the money and the physical assets. Sorry that you could fool me some of the time, but no longer.
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Why not cookies bread and water, instead? , Lowly rated comment [Show]
written by Mary-Lee , March 22, 2009
Really! How many people even knew about Fr. Roy's position on women's ordinations? He is known far better for his work to close the School of the Americas and his passion for the rights of people in Central and South America.

The Church has not yet made Archbishop Oscar Romero a saint. Why is that? Could it possibly be because it fears the loss on support from the wealthy families in El Salvador?

Are there some hidden reasons why Fr. Roy is being singled out for his stand on women's ordination that have nothing whatsoever to do with the example he might have given on that occassion and much to do with the threat to monied interests if the School of the Americas is closed and the nations of Central and South America give ALL their citizens a voice?
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