Mr. Roy Bourgeois gets his letter

I detect in myself a touch of schadenfreude as I read of this new at the site of the Fishwrap, whose editors have pressed poor Roy to their collective bosom for so very long.

Bourgeois receives official Vatican letter dismissing him from priesthood

Roy Bourgeois, the longtime peace activist and Catholic priest dismissed by the Vatican because of his support for women’s ordination, [more than "support"] has received the official letter notifying him of the move three months after it was made.
The letter, which comes from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is signed by the congregation’s prefect on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI and states that the pope’s decision in the matter is “a supreme decision, not open to any appeal, without right to any recourse.”

Written in Latin, the letter dismisses Bourgeois from the priesthood and restricts him from all priestly ministries. It asks Bourgeois to return a signed copy “as a proof of reception and at the same time of acceptance of the same dismissal and dispensation.”

The letter, dated Oct. 4, was made available Wednesday by Bourgeois, who said he received it last week from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, the U.S. missionary society he served as a priest for 40 years. Bourgeois said he did not plan to return a signed copy. [If he cannot be obedient in the greater, who expects that he would be obedient in the lesser.]

The congregation’s letter does not make reference to specific charges against Bourgeois or mention his support for women’s ordination, saying, “for the good of the Church, the dismissal from the said Society must be confirmed, and moreover, also the dismissal from the clerical state must be inflicted.”

“There’s no mention of what I did,” Bourgeois said. “There’s no mention … of women’s ordination. What crime did I commit that brought about this serious sentence? There’s no mention of that. What did I do? What am I being charged with?”  [For pity's sake, Roy.]

Bourgeois said he found the request to sign the letter “somewhat laughable” at first because he could not fully understand its contents until he obtained an English translation of the Latin from a translation service. [From a translation service?]

His signature, Bourgeois said, would indicate he accepts the letter’s contents.

“I do not accept it,” he said. “I think it’s a grave injustice. I think it’s mean-spirited. I think it contradicts whatever Jesus had talked about and taught us.”  [His fidelity and Christology are on par.  And by his disobedience and dismissal he has taken another step toward being completely irrelevant.]

[...]

The letter also asks Maryknoll to “exhort [Bourgeois] assiduously so that, once [his] proud behavior has been purified, [The Latin says "contumacia", which indicates persistent, inflexible, defiance of proper authority.  It is not "proud behavior".  He was exhorted by everyone under the sun and he would not obey.] he will participate in the life of the People of God in conformity to his new condition, will give edification and in this way will show himself a worthy son of the church.” [That would be a fine thing.  No? At that point I would shake his hand.  Also, the fact that Maryknoll (indeed in the Latin "Auctoritas ecclesiastica, cui spectat Decretum praefato notificare, hunc enixe hortetur...") is asked to continue to work on him underscores the strong medicinal element of this move by the Holy See even though he has been dismissed from the obligations of the clerical state and from Maryknoll itself, even - so it seems - as a lay brother.]

[...]

Comparing women’s ordination to the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage, Bourgeois said “this movement of gender equality … is rooted in God, equality and justice. It’s not stoppable.”  [ROFL!]

[...]

Neither is this decree from the Vicar of Christ, to whom Christ committed the power and authority to bind and loose.

Yes, I feel a little schadenfreude over this, but I feel more anger and grief.  This confused man has brought all this onto himself.  He has endangered his soul and caused scandal.  He has endangered the souls of others, by his support.  I sincerely hope that, over time, his dismissal from the clerical state will be medicinal.

In the meantime, to those wymyn out there who make the claim that “nothing prevents women from being ordained as deacons”, I say…

… just try it.  See what happens next.

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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37 Responses to Mr. Roy Bourgeois gets his letter

  1. PaulK says:

    “There’s no mention of what I did,” Bourgeois said. “There’s no mention … of women’s ordination. What crime did I commit that brought about this serious sentence? There’s no mention of that. What did I do? What am I being charged with?” [For pity's sake, Roy.]

    One of your finer moments Fr Z. Had a good chuckle followed by the sense of just how far gone he really is.

  2. mschu528 says:

    “Bourgeois said he found the request to sign the letter ‘somewhat laughable’ at first because he could not fully understand its contents until he obtained an English translation of the Latin from a translation service.”

    Can. 249 — Institutionis sacerdotalis Ratione provideatur ut alumni non tantum accurate linguam patriam edoceantur, sed etiam linguam latinam bene calleant necnon congruam habeant cognitionem alienarum linguarum, quarum scientia ad eorum formationem aut ad ministerium pastorale exercendum necessaria vel utilis videatur.

  3. jbas says:

    A translation service: perhaps a blog entitled “What Does the Dismissal Letter Really Say?”

  4. wmeyer says:

    What a sad, sad man. Apparently without any concept of what his ordination meant.

  5. The letter, dated Oct. 4, was made available Wednesday by Bourgeois, who said he received it last week from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, the U.S. missionary society he served as a priest for 40 years. Bourgeois said he did not plan to return a signed copy.

    Of course, this is a de facto acknowledgment of receipt that he will be hard-pressed to deny later, even though he states his intent to disregard the instruction to return a signed copy.

    Bourgeois said he found the request to sign the letter “somewhat laughable” at first because he could not fully understand its contents until he obtained an English translation of the Latin from a translation service.

    Another sad indictment of modern-day priestly formation.

  6. asperges says:

    I am sure I am not alone in thinking that there a few names out there – especially one theologian – to whom such a letter is long overdue.

  7. mschu528 says:

    My mistake, Mr Bourgeois had been a priest for 40 years. CIC/17, not CIC/83:

    Can. 1364. In inferioribus Seminarii scholis:
    ….
    2. Linguas praesertim latinam et patriam alumni accurate addiscant

  8. Philangelus says:

    Someone who works in HR told me that many people who receive a disciplinary report will refuse to sign the signature line where they acknowledge they’ve seen the report. Not that they agree with it, but they’ve seen it. But when that happens, 9 times out of 10 you can get them to turn the paper over and write “I dispute the conclusions contained in this letter,” and then sign that. Which as far as HR is concerned, is exactly the same because they’re acknowledging they’ve seen the letter.

    Just a handy tip here. If you want to fully disregard a disciplinary letter, don’t go talking about it in the newspaper.

  9. iPadre says:

    I think is is good the the Vatican took this action. However, at the same time it is very sad that a Priest would throw this precious gift he received from Holy Church “to the dogs”. We must guard our precious vocation from the devil who wishes to destroy us along with the Church. The way we guard it is through prayer and humility – humble obedience like the Virgin Mary. I pray he repents.

  10. akp1 says:

    He needs a lot of prayers. Let’s do our best…

  11. disco says:

    Roy apparently wasn’t familiar with canon 249 either.

  12. APX says:

    How can one be a priest for 40 years and not know Latin? The majority of my profs and high school teachers who were fluent in Latin learned it in elementary and high school, not post-secondary.

    Just to make a point to those who try to “be smart” about not knowing what a letter from the Vatican says, they should include an official translated copy in the vernacular of whomever is the recipient, and if it’s sent to Canada, better make sure it’s in English and French so the language police don’t come along and say it’s not valid since it’s not in French, which seems to work here.

  13. Ray says:

    Schadenfreude may be a bit much, Father Z. Deriving pleasure from some others misfortune is a stretch for me. [How about reading what I actually wrote. Start by reading to the bottom of the entry... for pity's sake.] I’m a reactionary Catholic and this forlorn priest is surely misguided, but I hesitate to proscribe him to damnation for a lack of acumen toward a dead language. As Catholics we need to all be praying for this priest to recant and come back into the fold of orthodoxy. Does anyone suppose he was anything but an Alter Christos on his ordination day? All of us have been less than stellar toward our faith at some point, let us all pray that he can find his way home.

  14. muckemdanno says:

    Father Z (or anyone else), a theological / sacramental question regarding dismissal from the priesthood.

    My understanding is that the conferral of the Sacrament of Holy Order imprints an indelible mark on the soul. How is it possible that this indelible mark is deleted? Or is this declaration similar to a declaration of nullity for a marriage – meaning that the sacrament was never really conferred?

    I would appreciate my ignorance being ameliorated!

    [Pay attention to the language. The Holy See is not saying that Bourgeois is not a priest. They have dismissed him from the clerical state. He is no longer permitted to function as a priest except, and they make this clear by citing canons, that he can absolve a dying person's sins. He is not a priest in that sense. Otherwise, nothing changes as far as the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Remember that ordination is not by itself enough to function as a priest. A priest must have the Church's permission to exercise the priesthood he received.]

  15. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “How can one be a priest for 40 years and not know Latin?”

    It’s not fair to suggest that one in ignorance is at fault for that ignorance. Depending on what you mean by “know Latin”, I can think of several terrific priests who don’t.

  16. Dr. Edward Peters says: “How can one be a priest for 40 years and not know Latin?” It’s not fair to suggest that one in ignorance is at fault for that ignorance. Depending on what you mean by “know Latin”, I can think of several terrific priests who don’t.

    I didn’t take that as a criticism of the priest so much as a criticism of the state of priestly formation.

  17. fvhale says:

    Following on muckemdanno’s question, and Fr. Z’s astute, red response:

    The letter cites Can. 976 and 986.2, so even though Fr. Roy “lacks the faculty to hear confessions,” he “can validly and lawfully absolve any penitents who are in danger of death, from any censures and sins” (CJC 976).

    Would it not be beautiful if Fr. Roy now goes to be with those he cares so much about, and then, when one of these excommunicated women is in danger of death, she can repent and he can absolve her. Wow! God’s mercy is available through the sacraments, no matter how much we mess things up.

  18. Y2Y says:

    What a jackass. Good riddance.

  19. James Joseph says:

    Dr. Peters,

    Even meatballs know a little Italian. Methinks you missed the plantiff’s dumbfoundedness of the question.

  20. Jack Hughes says:

    ” Comparing women’s ordination to the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage, Bourgeois said “this movement of gender equality … is rooted in God, equality and justice. It’s not stoppable.”

    Talk about Esau and a mess ot pottage, I am rememinded of a very Holy Fransicsan Priest who when suspended from hearing confessions and preaching because of scurrilos accusations intoned “the will of the superiors is the will of God”

  21. Hidden One says:

    Jack Hughes, I take it you mean St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, O.F.M. Cap.?

  22. Angie Mcs says:

    Why do these religious invariably claim they know what Jesus would think and/or do when they get themselves in a mess and try to justify their behavior?

  23. Joan M says:

    I sad that it had to come to this, but the cure is entirely in his own hands. As we say in Trinidad – He look for dat!

    I totally agree with Philangelus. Someone once reporting to me disagreed with his performance appraisal and refused to sign it – but, if I remember correctly, he wrote “I refuse to sign”! Then he went and complained to the union about my “scoffing at him” while discussing it with him……

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    We should pray for him. This is a major, major event in his life, and I hope he stops and thinks about it carefully, even if we don’t hear much about that. He needs to question his assumptions and understand what’s happened.

    A lot of people only look at the “top-line” of love, peace and freedom like children, thinking that love is affection, peace is the absence of conflict and freedom is the ability to do whatever you think you want. But no, there is so much more to those things.

  25. Carolina Geo says:

    He is lucky to have been dismissed from the priesthood. Were I in charge, I would probably excommunicate him (and all of his ilk). I’m sure we are all glad that I’m not in charge…

  26. Iowa Mike says:

    Not to be disrespectful but I was overjoyed when I read this. I’m sad for the misfortune of a ministerial priest who has rejected Christ’s Church in favor of pop-culture. When I read this an old tune popped into my head. Do you remember ‘Bye Bye Love” by the Everly Brothers….. I recommend this for Mr. Bourgeois’ new theme song.

    Bye bye love
    Bye bye happiness
    Hello loneliness
    I think I’m-a gonna cry

    When realty sets in I think he will regret getting booted from the priesthood.

  27. Pingback: Baptism Gifts | Big Pulpit

  28. dominic1955 says:

    Why do these people act like they are oh-so-smart and so very enlightened and then when something happens like this (that was preceeded by numerous other attempts to set him straight) they play dumb? “What did I do?”- my foot. He knows very well what he did.

    If these people had any integrity, they would just leave the Church and set up some other organization that supports and provides all the stuff they think is integral to Christianity. Of course, then they’d just join the ranks of all the other irrelevant heretics in strip mall store fronts.

  29. wmeyer says:

    Were I in charge, I would probably excommunicate him (and all of his ilk).

    Unless I have misunderstood the situation, as he is reported to have invalidly participated in the “ordination of a woman”, he has excommunicated himself. However, as any priest is in a position to influence many, I do think the Church might better protect the laity from men of this ilk were they to publicly announce their state.

  30. Dave N. says:

    “How can one be a priest for 40 years and not know Latin?” It’s not fair to suggest that one in ignorance is at fault for that ignorance. Depending on what you mean by “know Latin”, I can think of several terrific priests who don’t.

    It seems to me that 40 years is more than sufficient time to learn. Ignorance can eventually be corrected by taking some personal responsibility.

  31. Jack Hughes says:

    @ Hidden one

    I was refering to St Padre Pio , the contrast between him and Mr Bourgeois could not be more profound, I am hoping to hear news on Monday as to whether a Bishop will allow me to progress to the next stage of the discernment process for the Priesthood (prayers please) and although I would love to be a part of the diocese in question I know that if he says no it will be becasue God willed it, (not that that would make rejection any easier). Obedience after all is at the core of how we practise our Faith.

  32. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Some late vocation ones may not be able to learn Latin. The facility to learn new languages decreases with age. I know of one who couldn’t learn it though his seminary required it and was ordained anyway.

  33. priests wife says:

    What can this priest do to avoid hell? This is very, very sad

  34. Clinton R. says:

    As you point out, Father, this is just plain sad. He made a solemn vow to serve God in the priesthood and yet, it seemed like it meant nothing to him. Just sad.

  35. VexillaRegis says:

    Oh, haven’t we met this kind of people before? “How dare you have a different political/aesthetic/religious view then me?” ” You are a terrible person for having my car towed away when I purposely blocked your drive way on a Sunday morning.” Which basically is what he did to the Church.
    So long Sister Mister.

  36. Banjo pickin girl says: Some late vocation ones may not be able to learn Latin. The facility to learn new languages decreases with age. I know of one who couldn’t learn it though his seminary required it and was ordained anyway.

    True, late vocations are more likely to have difficulty learning Latin. But the real issue is, they’re not being trained in Latin in the first place. This was a problem John XXIII saw coming, and tried to deal with in his apostolic constitution on Latin. And it is just one of the many deficiencies that have plagued priestly formation over the last 40+ years, and may perhaps have contributed to Roy Bourgeoise’s current situation.

  37. Therese Z says:

    That jutting lower lip “What are they charging me with?” – all I can think of is a petulant 11 year old saying “You’re not the boss of me!”