Order Dismisses a Priest Trying to Ordain Women

The Rev. Roy Bourgeois, who refused to renounce his increasingly public campaign to see women ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church, has been notified of his dismissal by his religious order, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

A letter to Father Bourgeois, signed by the superior general and the general secretary of the Maryknoll order in the United States, said the dismissal was necessary because of his “defiant stance” in opposition to church teaching.

“Your numerous public statements and appearances in support of the women’s priests movement continues to create in the minds of many faithful the view that your position is acceptable to our Church,” the letter said, adding that Father Bourgeois had caused the church “grave scandal.”

Father Bourgeois has gone further than any other priest in good standing to ally himself publicly with the growing women’s ordination movement. The group Roman Catholic Womenpriests claims to have ordained 120 women as priests and 10 as bishops in the last few years. The Vatican regards the ceremonies as illicit and invalid. Father Bourgeois participated in one such ceremony in 2008, and since then has given speeches around the country in support of female priests.

“They want two words: I recant,” Father Bourgeois said. “And they can’t get that out of me. For me, the real scandal is the message we are sending to women: you’re not equal, you cannot be priests, you’re not worthy.”

The case now moves to the Vatican for his formal removal from the priesthood, or laicization. Father Bourgeois said he had hired the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer known for testifying as an expert witness on behalf of victims suing the church in clergy sexual abuse cases, to represent him at the Vatican.

The order’s move, while expected, nevertheless surprised Father Bourgeois and some of his supporters who had hoped that the Maryknolls, often in the forefront of liberal causes, would stand with their fellow priest. More than 200 priests signed a petition to the Maryknolls saying that they supported his right to follow his conscience.

“I’m disappointed,” said Sister Beth Rindler, a coordinator of the National Coalition of American Nuns, a small group that has long called for women’s ordination. “I thought that with the support that Father Roy’s been receiving, maybe they would yield. It seems to me that the church is trying to teach that women are subservient to men, and I’m just surprised that they hold onto that.”

http://tinyurl.com/3q67skj

Federal Grand Jury Indicts KC Catholic Priest

A federal grand jury has indicted a Catholic priest on 13 counts of possessing and producing child pornography.

Shawn Ratigan, 45, is already facing state charges.

KMBC’s Micheal Mahoney reported that the indictment accuses Ratigan of 11 counts of production or an attempt to produce child porn. Prosecutors said Ratigan “exploited five minor victims.” They say the victims range from 2 to 12 years old.

“When a person who has been places in a position of trust exploits and customizes children, he victimizes the entire community,” said U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips.
Ratigan’s arrest on the child porn charges earlier in the year launched a firestorm of controversy surrounding the Kansas City Catholic diocese and its leader, Bishop Robert Finn.

http://tinyurl.com/3wsxmuq

Hundreds of Roman Catholic priests across the United States have died of AIDS-related illnesses

Remarkable series at The Kansas City Star. See the full series HERE!

Catholic priests are dying of AIDS, often in silence
Hundreds of Roman Catholic priests across the United States have died of AIDS-related illnesses, and hundreds more are living with HIV, the virus that causes the disease. It appears priests are dying of AIDS at a rate at least four times that of the general U.S. population.

Priests speak out in national survey
Six of 10 Roman Catholic priests in The Kansas City Star’s survey know at least one priest who died of an AIDS-related illness, and one-third know a priest currently living with AIDS.

• About The Star’s survey
AIDS, gay-related issues trouble many denominations
The Roman Catholic church may be the nation’s largest denomination, but it isn’t the only one grappling with the issues of homosexuality and AIDS. Many denominations have lost clergy to AIDS, and numerous churches are mired in battles over whether to ordain homosexuals or to perform same-sex marriages.

Homosexuality, AIDS and celibacy: the church’s views
The Roman Catholic Church has no national policy on dealing with priests who have HIV or AIDS. Nor does the church have specific guidelines on educating priests about sexuality. Priests and seminarians are expected to rely on church doctrine on homosexuality and celibacy and to follow their bishop’s or superior’s lead in ministering to colleagues afflicted with AIDS.

Florida priest finds acceptance after devastating news
In early 1989, the Rev. Dennis Rausch was thinking about leaving the priesthood. Though ordained for nearly a decade and serving as Catholic chaplain at a Florida university, Rausch felt unfulfilled. Then he tested positive for HIV.

MARK ZIEMAN: EDITOR AND VICE PRESIDENT
Priests’ stories carry crucial messages
The credibility and worth of any newspaper series should rest squarely on the stories themselves, not on columns such as this one. Our series beginning today on AIDS in the Catholic priesthood is no exception. That’s why I urge you to read our coverage for yourself.

Priests’ letter supports Bourgeois

A group of “priests in good standing within the Roman Catholic church” wrote to Maryknoll superiors last month to support the priesthood of Fr. Roy Bourgeois “and his right to speak from his conscience.”

The letter bore the signatures of 157 priests.

Bourgeois, 73, has been threatened with dismissal from Maryknoll, a New York-based missionary order, for his public support of women’s ordination and participation in such events.

“The priests felt the need to stand in support of, not only Fr. Bourgeois, but their own right to speak from their conscience,” the July 21 letter said.

The letter is addressed to Fr. Edward Dougherty, superior general of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

“While we understand the difficulty of your position we hope that seeing support of ordained priests in good standing will help you come to a fair and just conclusion,” the letter said.

The letter does not specifically address the issue of women’s ordination, only that the signees support the right to speak from conscience. The letter and the signatures have not been made public, but NCR obtained a copy of the letter with the names.

The letter is “an attempt to let the superior general of Maryknoll and Vatican officials know that priests in the United States really support Fr. Roy Bourgeois and feel that his right to speak from his conscience is certainly something that is justified,” said the spokesman for the statement, Fr. Fred Daley of Syracuse, N.Y.

There is “certainly a concern, too, that we’re moving into a situation where it’s a church of fear rather than a church of love,” Daley said. The signees were a mix of diocesan priests and order priests, he said.

Maryknoll’s spokesman, Mike Virgintino, confirmed to NCR that the order had received the letter and that it “acknowledges” the right of Bourgeois and anyone in the Catholic church to present their views and speak from their conscience on any issues.

He said that this is an ongoing situation between Bourgeois and the church, not between Bourgeois and Maryknoll.

Daley said that the letter was addressed to Dougherty because as the superior general of Maryknoll he is the one who will be doing the removing.

Other letters in support of Bourgeois have been sent to Maryknoll or the Vatican, but no letter or statement has had so many priests sign onto it.

“It’s sad that someone who has given [his] whole life to the church and has witnessed for peace and accompanied the poor is being treated in such an embarrassingly scandalous way,” said Daley, a friend of Bourgeois.

According to Daley, in early July a group of concerned priests began talking about a way to support Bourgeois and the idea of a letter emerged.

The group approached Call to Action, a Chicago-based church-reform organization, for help in reaching out to other priests. Bourgeois was notified of the letter while it was being created, Daley said.

In other parts of the world, priests have been banding together as a united front for the rights of Catholics.

The National Council of Priests of Australia has defended ousted Toowoomba Bishop William Morris.

In Ireland, the Association of Catholic Priests formed last year to represent Irish clergy and promote a reform agenda, including a reevaluation of the church’s teaching on sexuality and the inclusion of women at every level within the church.

And last month in Austria, 300 priests signed a letter calling for reform, including ordaining woman and married priests.

In March, Dougherty and Maryknoll secretary general Fr. Edward McGovern wrote Bourgeois telling him that he had 15 days to “publicly recant” his support of women’s ordination or face dismissal from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

After 15 days, a second letter would be sent, and if Bourgeois did not recant after that, Maryknoll would send his dismissal records to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “for confirmation with a request for laicization.”

Bourgeois responded in a letter dated April 8, stating that he could not recant without betraying his conscience.

To date, Bourgeois has not received the second letter from Maryknoll.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a letter to Bourgeois in 2008 ordering him to stop his public support of women’s ordination and not to participate in events related to it, but Bourgeois did not adhere to those demands.

Bourgeois is also the founder of SOA Watch, an organization seeking to close down the former School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, a U.S. Army school that trains soldiers and military personnel from Latin America.

http://tinyurl.com/3mbvhyx

The Church Doesn’t Get It

Why Bishop Chaput is not the answer

The testimony before a grand jury in 2003 and 2004 of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, during the D.A.’s investigation of clerical sexual abuse, is now online courtesy of the Inquirer; it was filed as part of the current trial of Monsignor William Lynn. Reading Bevilacqua’s actual words is important, to get the feel of who he was, his thinking, and the way he should run his archdiocese.

There’s another reason we should read what he said. The problem that the archdiocese of Philadelphia faces is not merely that it has been run by men who were far more concerned with protecting pedophile priests and the Church itself than the children who were raped by those priests. If that were the case, the solution would be straightforward: You get rid of those men at the top. But the problem is far deeper than a few Cardinals who are morally bankrupt. And that is what the Church refuses to understand.

Bevilacqua’s testimony is telling. At one point over many hours and many days, assistant D.A. Charlie Gallagher asked the Cardinal several times why–when a priest who had sexually abused a parishioner was removed–Bevilacqua did not inform that parish as to why their spiritual leader was gone.

Charlie Gallagher: “Don’t you think it would have been advisable to do that, to find out if he had abused anyone else?”

Cardinal Bevilacqua: “I repeat what I said before–we did not see it was necessary because no one was held back from reporting it.”

Gallagher: “Weren’t you concerned about whether or not there were other victims in that parish?”

Bevilacqua: “Oh, I’d be concerned about any victim, but there’s–if they wanted to come to us, they could have come anytime.”

Gallagher: “So you left it all up to these innocent children to come forward and make these claims; is that correct?”

Bevilacqua: “Their families. I don’t see–there was no restriction on anybody. They could come any time at all.”

Gallagher: “I’m not questioning the restriction … put upon the other parishioners. All I’m asking is: Don’t you think it would have been wise to go back to that parish to find out if there were other victims in that parish?”

Bevilacqua: “No, I didn’t think it was necessary, and I don’t see why we had to do that.”

That exchange, of course, is only the tip of the iceberg. We now know the story, of how the Church protected priests who raped children by moving them around to other parishes, where they went on their merry way raping more children. But I cite the above because of Bevilacqua’s chilling tone, and how it nails his monumentally skewed priorities.

So can this scandal be solved by the retirements of Cardinals Bevilacqua and Justin Rigali, and by bringing in Bishop Charles Chaput, who supposedly has a good record on sexual abuse (though there are serious questions about that)? In short, will Chaput’s aggressive brand of Catholicism move the archdiocese past the current mess?

No. Because the mindset and actions of Cardinal Bevilacqua–and his successor Rigali, who punted on the problem–are a symptom of a crisis even deeper than priests who rape children being protected and allowed to rape more children.

We are too far down the road of understanding institutional power for the Church to do anything but openly admit not just the facts of abuse, not just the awful way it has dealt with that abuse, but the most basic truth that everyone can now see: That the Church as an organization–as an institution with power held tightly at the top, with maintenance of that power the abiding concern–must fundamentally change.

I invite you: Take a look at that grand jury testimony of Cardinal Bevilacqua. His attitude merely reflects how power is organized and maintained in his Church. So it is beside the point to grade Bishop Chaput on what he did in Denver, or to put much stock in him reinvigorating the local faithful, because what this archdiocese needs, what the Church needs, is the radical understanding that its own power structure has gone haywire. In fact, it has been haywire, and the sexual abuse scandal, like the Arab spring, as messy as it is, as painful as it is, speaks to a changing world: In this case, the Church is no longer powerful enough to mute victims, and it must start listening to them. And to parishioners.

Watch, many are saying about Bishop Chaput: This guy is a firebrand. No such thing as Catholic lite from him. But Chaput’s style of faith, as charged and beautiful as it may be, is not the answer; his appointment, in fact, is an end run on the crisis. Because back to the fundamentals in an authoritarian way, which is what Chaput really offers as head of the archdiocese, is exactly the style that got the Church into this mess over the past few centuries. How long will it take to understand that?

http://tinyurl.com/3fzrbvc