The Vatican Implosion

Robert C. Mickens, Vatican correspondent and columnist for “The Tablet,” speaks about The Vatican’s implosion and what it means for Catholics.

Do you know where you were…

Do you know where you were on this date, 11/22, 37 years ago?  That would be 1975, for those who can’t do the math.

I was being ordained a Catholic priest in Oakland, CA. It all seems like a lifetime ago.

That day was filled with such promise and joy. Little did I know back then that the organization I was pledging my life too would turn out to be this rapacious monster, a destroyer of lives and vocations. That this organization’s leadership would become a heartless, insulated, monolithic, callous and tone deaf power structure hellbent on undercutting and dismantling The Second Vatican Council. Now, more than ever before and throughout the entire Church, people of conscience are being harassed, shamed and bullied, simply because they are not in lockstep with the old men in charge.

I thought things were bad when the Oblates of Mary Immaculate moved to dismiss me, on trumped up charges, in 1981. It took them thirteen years and a complete violation of our community’s rules and constitutions before they actually got around to tossed me out. I thought things were horrible back then. But those sad days pale in comparison to what is going on today. Just look what they’ve done to Roy Bourgeois. Not only did they dismiss him, but they excommunicated him and defrocked him too. Now compare the ruthless treatment Roy to how the hierarchy deals with pedophile priests in their midst and you’ll get a pretty good picture of the institution’s priorities.

It’s a scandal and it’s heartbreaking to watch.

Church of England general synod votes against women bishops

The general synod of the Church of England has voted narrowly against the appointment of women as bishops.

The measure was passed by the synod’s houses of bishops and clergy but was rejected by the House of Laity.

Supporters vowed to continue their campaign but it could be five years before a similar vote can be held.

Controversy had centred on the provisions for parishes opposed to women bishops to request supervision by a stand-in male bishop.

‘Bigger consensus’

The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, spoke of his “deep personal sadness” after the vote.

He said: “Of course I hoped and prayed that this particular business would be at another stage before I left, and… it is a personal sadness, a deep personal sadness that that is not the case.

“I can only wish the synod and the archbishop all good things and every blessing with resolving this in the shortest possible time.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury after the vote on women bishops The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury was in favour of allowing women bishops

Both the archbishop and his successor, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, the current Bishop of Durham, were in favour of a “yes” vote.

Canon Simon Killwick, vicar of Christ Church, Moss Side, and leader of the Catholic group in the synod, had spoken against the move and said the legislation was “flawed”.

He said it would be possible for the issue to return before the next synod is elected in 2015 if there were “early talks held between the various parties and a real effort to build a bigger consensus”.

Twenty years after the introduction of women priests, the issue has continued to divide traditionalists – among those on the Church’s evangelical and Anglo-Catholic wings – from reformers.

Had the motion been backed by the synod, the proposed legislation would have made its way through Parliament before receiving royal assent.

It needed two-thirds majorities in each of the synod’s three houses.

The votes were 44 for and three against with two abstentions in the House of Bishops, 148 for and 45 against in the House of Clergy, and 132 for and 74 against in the House of Laity.

The vote in the House of Laity, at 64%, was just short of the required majority – six more “yes” votes were needed.

The House of laity is the largest element of the General Synod and is made up of lay members of the church elected by its 44 dioceses.

The decision came at the end of a day of debate by supporters and opponents – and a 12-year legislative process.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, said: “It is very disappointing that the vote was lost so narrowly.”

Campaign group Women and the Church (Watch) said the outcome was a “devastating blow for the Church of England and the country”.

The Rev Rachel Weir, chairwoman of Watch, said “This is a tragic day for the Church of England after so many years of debate and after all our attempts at compromise.

The Right Reverend Graham James: “Obviously it is very disappointing that the vote was lost”

“Despite this disappointing setback, Watch will continue to campaign for the full acceptance of women’s gifts of leadership in the Church’s life.”

Watch said bishops would need to act promptly to offer pastoral support in the coming weeks to women clergy and others who felt devastated by the decision.

Writing in the Guardian, Lucy Winkett, who would have been in line to become a woman bishop, said the synod was “detonating its credibility with contemporary Britain”.
Emergency meeting

But synod member Susie Leafe said the outcome was because of faults in the legislation.

She said: “There were a lot of places along the way that we could have had a measure in front of us that wouldn’t have been voted down, and it’s very sad that this was able to go on without us facing the reality of the situation.”

The Catholic Group in General Synod said “mediation and conciliation are needed so that new legislation can be framed to provide fairly for all members of the Church of England”.

Zoe Ham, Church Society: “I am happy that the legislation in its form today has been rejected”

The group said in a statement: “We regret the synod was put in the position whereby draft legislation failed at final approval because it was unclear and unfair in its provision for those who, in conscience, are unable to accept the ministry of women as bishops or priests.

“The Catholic Group calls on the House of Bishops to reconvene the talks started in the summer between representatives of different groups, chaired by Bishop Justin Welby.

“The Catholic Group is committed to playing a full part in the process of achieving good legislation to enable us all to move forward together in mission and service to the nation.”

Traditionalist campaign group Together 4ward said: “We are reflecting on and praying about the outcome of general synod, and will make a fuller statement in due course.

“We are, however, pleased that synod has chosen not to pass the Women Bishops Measure in its current form, which we believe would not have allowed the Church to go forward together.”

The House of Bishops will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday morning following the decision, a Church spokesman said.

Complete Article HERE!

Bourgeois DISMISSED!

A Roman Catholic order in New York says the Vatican has dismissed a priest for his involvement in the movement to ordain women.

A statement from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers says the Rev. Roy Bourgeois was let go by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

It says he “participated in the invalid ordination of a woman” in 2008. The woman was a member of a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

Church teaching holds that the priesthood is reserved for men because Christ chose only men as apostles.

Maryknoll said the dismissal means Bourgeois is no longer a priest.

In a statement released Tuesday, Bourgeois said he was compelled by conscience to speak out. He says the issue of women’s equality in the church cannot be dismissed.

Former Maryknoll head decries Vatican interference in Bourgeois case

By Joshua J. McElwee

A former head of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers has expressed support for Roy Bourgeois, saying the longtime peace activist and priest has a “deep love for the church” and his dismissal from the order by the Vatican represents meddling in Maryknoll’s affairs.

In his first statement since the dismissal, Bourgeois said Tuesday, “The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church.”

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has “interfered with the integrity of the society,” said Maryknoll Fr. John Sivalon, who served as the order’s superior general from 2002 to 2008.

“It makes it very hard to consider how we talk about mission and visioning for the future and being open to the Spirit, when in fact we’re being dictated to that this is what we need to follow,” Sivalon told NCR Tuesday. “And so I think there is a question about the society itself and how the integrity of the society has been affected by this.”

The Vatican congregation dismissed Bourgeois, a member of Maryknoll for 45 years who had come under scrutiny for his support of women’s ordination, from the order in October, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers announced in a press release Monday.

In his statement responding to his dismissal, Bourgeois said his expulsion from Maryknoll “is very difficult and painful.”

“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,” Bourgeois writes in the statement, which was posted Tuesday afternoon at the website of the Women’s Ordination Conference.

“My only regret is that it took me so long to confront the issue of male power and domination in the Catholic Church,” Bourgeois wrote.

Sivalon said Bourgeois supports women’s ordination “out of a very deep love for the church.”

“That love for the church just is expressed in his belief that the hierarchical part of the church is becoming less and less relevant in the world and to changes in the world,” he said. “It’s probably with profound sadness that he himself looks upon how that hierarchy has moved away. I think it’s just a sign of his love that he has taken the position.”

Dominican Fr. Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer acting on Bourgeois’ behalf, said Monday neither he nor Bourgeois was aware of the full scope of the Vatican’s move until seeing the press release from Maryknoll on the matter.

Maryknoll’s membership was first informed in the same press release, and the society has not made available the letter from the Vatican congregation dismissing Bourgeois, Sivalon said.

Requests for comment on the matter Tuesday were not immediately returned by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Bourgeois first learned of the news Monday afternoon in a phone call from a Maryknoll priest who had called to ask Bourgeois to come up to the order’s New York headquarters for a meeting, Doyle said.

Bourgeois asked the priest the purpose of the meeting, and Doyle said the priest replied that the order had received a letter from the Vatican congregation dismissing Bourgeois both from the order and the priesthood.

Bourgeois then asked if the society would hold off on making an announcement about the matter until he could meet with them and see a copy of the letter, Doyle said. They refused.

“Roy did not see the content of this news release until I printed a copy up and sent it to him by fax,” Doyle said.

The Vatican’s removal of Bourgeois, Sivalon said, “raises questions about how open the society can be to explain avenues of being in mission in different ways.”

Prior to the congregation’s dismissal of the priest, “the society was moving toward a much more Kingdom-centered, Reign of God-centered kind of understanding of its mission and service to that, and this raises questions about it,” said the former superior general.

“My own position would be of support for women’s ordination and opening up ministry to others,” Sivalon said, “and I think it would be the position of probably many in leadership in Maryknoll.”

“I think all of us, looking at what’s happening in the church today, think that it’s just becoming less and less relevant and less and less open to the possibility that the Spirit is speaking through the world and speaking through others,” Sivalon said. “I think people that know Roy would still look upon him as a priest and respect him as a priest, no matter what the congregation has done.”

Bourgeois’ role in Maryknoll had been in question since his presence at the ordination of Roman Catholic Womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska in August 2008.

Shortly after that ordination, Bourgeois was notified by the Vatican congregation that he had incurred a latae sententiae, or automatic, excommunication for his participation at the event.

Maryknoll asked Bourgeois to publicly recant his support of women’s ordination, telling the priest in a March 2011 letter he faced laicization and removal from the order if he did not comply.

In a series of letters and interviews since then, Bourgeois has said he could not comply with the request for reasons of conscience.

Maryknoll’s leadership took a vote on removing Bourgeois from the order in the spring. While the order would confirm at the time that a vote had taken place, it would not comment on its outcome.

Doyle told NCR at the time that Maryknoll Fr. Mike Duggan, the U.S. regional superior of the order, informed Bourgeois of the vote, which was a split decision. Doyle said Duggan told him two council members voted in favor of dismissal and three members abstained.

Monday’s statement from Maryknoll states that Bourgeois’ “disobedience and preaching against the teaching of the Catholic Church about women’s ordination led to his excommunication, dismissal and laicization.”

“With this parting, the Maryknoll Society warmly thanks Roy Bourgeois for his service to mission and all members wish him well in his personal life,” the statement concludes. “In the spirit of equity and charity, Maryknoll will assist Mr. Bourgeois with this transition.”

Doyle said he and Bourgeois would discuss the possibilities for appeal of the decision once they are able to see a copy of the letter from the Vatican congregation.

“As Catholics, we profess that God created men and women of equal worth and dignity,” Bourgeois wrote in his statement Tuesday.

“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.”

Several canon lawyers contacted by NCR for background on the issues surrounding dismissal of a priest from a religious order said it is unclear how the Vatican congregation was able to act on the matter. See: Canon lawyers: Vatican’s role ambiguous in Bourgeois’ removal for more.

Complete Article HERE!