A Vatican official has said that the excommunication of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, an American Maryknoll priest who advocates the ordination of women, will "certainly take place" unless the priest renounces his stand.
In exclusive comments made to CNA, the official called Fr. Bourgeois’ November letter defending his stand a "sad piece of propaganda" and argued the dissenting cleric takes his inspiration from American newspapers rather than Catholic doctrine.
Fr. Bourgeois, who is involved in organizing human rights protests at the military training school formerly known as School of the Americas, has called the Catholic position on women’s ordination "sexist." In August, he delivered a homily at a ceremony at a Unitarian church purporting to ordain a woman to the Catholic priesthood.
In an October 21 letter, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave Fr. Bourgeois 30 days to renounce his public support for the ordination of women, on penalty of excommunication.
In a November 7 letter, Fr. Bourgeois said he was compelled to take his stand as a matter of conscience and would not renounce it. The priest said he knew many women who feel called to the priesthood and argued that the Church cannot treat this reputed vocation as invalid.
He characterized the "exclusion of women from the priesthood" as an "injustice."
CNA spoke with an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the case of Fr. Bourgeois. The official reiterated that all procedures at the CDF are confidential. However, since Fr. Bourgeois decided to make public his letter to the Congregation, he said that "clearly the letter is a sad piece of propaganda and in no way expresses any doctrinal substance for his position."
"Rather, Fr. Bourgeois feels he can engage with the (CDF) to change the doctrine of the Church… quoting American newspapers as if they were a source of any kind of Catholic doctrine."
The official said that the formal excommunication will "certainly take place" as soon as the CDF "responds personally to the letters sent either supporting or denouncing (Fr. Bourgeois.)"
"Of course, Fr. Bourgeois could avoid excommunication at any point if he recants, but unfortunately all his latest actions do not seem to point in that direction," the official told CNA.