Former Maryknoll head decries Vatican interference in Bourgeois case

(NCR) A former head of the 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. 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. [more]

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NCR