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Church Threatens to Excommunicate Father Roy Bourgeois, Founder of the School of the Americas Watch

12/20/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Network of Spiritual Progressives wishes to be a place in which progressives from various religious communities (as well as "spiritual but not religious" people) can feel safe in coming together to work for a New Bottom Line to replace the materialism

and selfishness in the world with an ethos of love, kindness, generosity,caring for others, ethical and ecological sensitivity,and awe and wonder at the grandeur of the universe.

But what do we do if one of our religious communities is directly involved in racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic or attacking "the Stranger" (whoever the demeaned Other of any given society happens to be at a particular historical moment, when the

Bible actually commands us not only to love our neighbor, but specifically and unequivocally to "love the Other" (the stranger, in Hebrew: ger). Truth is that every one of our religious communities has within them groups or denominations or movements that sometimes fit these tendencies to sin by denying God in "the Other." I know it happens in sections of the Jewish world, particularly in relationship to Arabs and Muslims, and I make that a subject of frequent attention in Tikkun magazine and a subject for repentance each year in my own Beyt Tikkun synagogue in S.F. and Berkeley California, and in the "For Our Sins" supplement that we send out to all our supporters for use in their communities.

But of course it's not just Jews who demean others or see one type of human being as more valuable or closer to God or more appropriate to serve God than another. This has come into particular highlight this very week, because the Congregation of

the Doctrine of the Faith ( the office that was previously named The Inquisition,but now no longer using violence to achieve its ends) has sent a letter to Father Roy Bourgeois threatening him with ex-communication (which effectively means an end to his income and to his teachings inside the church) for daring to publicly support the ordination of women and to offer remarks in a ceremony ordaining a woman as priest.

Roy Bourgeois isn't just any priest. He is, along with John Dear and Sister Joan Chittister, one of the most courageous Catholic voices for peace and non-violence and the founder and leader of the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW). The ultimatum and ex-communication would be effective the day before the annual demonstration of the SOAW at Fort Bennings (next to Columbus, Georgia) where the School of the Americas is housed and where it trains South and Central American police forces in the techniques of torture, repression, and counter-insurgency. We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives have been calling for support for this demonstration which begins on Friday and goes till Sunday.

So the current conservative leadership of the Catholic Church will now in one fell swoop be able to rid itself of the progressive Catholic who has created the most important spiritual progressive demonstration taking place anywhere in the country for

peace and against torture, and simultaneously terrify other priests into not daring to question the Church's doctrines on women.

It should be noted that the very progressive teachings of the Church against war and poverty have not served as a basis for the excommunication of any priest or other church officials who have publicly supported the US war in Iraq or Afghanistan or supported the notion of a violent war against terror. As the politically conservative forces have come to power in the Church after, and in part to undo, the more liberal spirit of Vatican II, they have used their offices in the hierarchy against those who support progressive causes, but not against those who support authoritarian and reactionary and violent causes. So, while they make their own tenth century decision to exclude women from the clergy on a pedestal of non-disputability, they leave Jesus'

teachings against violence and for social justice on no such pedestal, thus allowing priests who support economic oppression and wars an open path to challenge Church teachings or distorting how they might be applied, while preventing any serious dissent when it comes to matters of sexuality and gender.

We urge all those who feel strongly opposed to this attempt to silence dissent within the Church and to oust its most celebrated peace-priest to take the following steps:

1. Write to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the

Faith at the Vatican, Rome, Italy and protest.

2. Write to your local newspapers and protest.

3. Write to your local Catholic church and priests and

protest.

4. Write to the National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, and to national news sources like the New York Times and Washington Post and CNN and NPR and let them know that the NSP is protesting this move against Father Bourgeois and re-affirming our commitment to equal rights for women plus our commitment to strengthen the demonstrations in Fort Benning until the training of counter-insurgency experts (a way of saying torturers and repressors of democratic movements for justice and peace) is

stopped and made illegal in the U.S.

Now here's the key: we want to communicate this message in a respectful way to the Catholic world. We are not anti-Catholic. Our organization contains many faithful Catholics. We seek to recruit faithful Catholics into the NSP, and we do not wish to

give them the impression that we are challenging their entire faith. Moreover, at the SOAW demonstration this weekend you'll be able to meet many Catholics who have anti-war, anti-violence and pro-peace and generosity perspectives--and they represent a major part of American Catholicism. So please help us communicate our outrage at the attempt to silence or excommunicate Father Roy Bourgeois. But do so in a way that indicates respect and genuine caring connection to the many Catholics who remain committed to peace and social justice but who may be afraid to speak out on this issue for fear of losing their connection with the Church (including many many Jesuits, for example, who share our progressive peace-oriented and social-justice oriented perspectives and would be part of the NSP, but are fearful that they too would be thrown out of their livelihood should they speak out clearly on these topics).

Nor is it for progressives like Roy Bourgeois merely a matter of livelihood that is at stake -- these are people of faith who feel nurtured by and deeply connected to the Church, and to the teachings of Jesus, and feel that on some specific matters their Church, which they love deeply, has mistaken priorities that do not reflect the true teachings of Jesus, and they wish to correct policies that they feel are out of sync with God's word as they understand it. This kind of dissent, of course, was what led up to

the convening of Vatican II, and the ideas that manifested there were only possible because of previous dissenters in the Church finally being given a chance to have real voice. So it is distressing to the dissenters today to find that the freedoms to

dispute parts of the "official teachings" that made possible previous changes in the Church's doctrines are now being withdrawn by Pope Benedict, who himself was part of this same process of limiting dissent when he headed the same Church Office that now seeks to silence Roy Bourgeois.

Please read the materials below so that you can see more

documentation of the issues discussed here.

Rabbi Michael Lerner

RabbiLerner@Tikkun.org

P.S. If you ARE coming to the SOAW demonstrations this weekend, please note that I will be leading a workshop at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning in the Columbus conference/convention center on the topic of How to Best Support our new President and how to raise the issues connected to the Global Marshall Plan--and you

are invited! And that we will have a table at the actual demonstration on Sunday. We need help in distributing our information and personing a table at the demonstration, so please let us know if you'd be willing to donate a little time for that.

Also, people in Southern Florida may wish to attend a similar talk I'll be giving next Monday night in Palm Beach, Florida (details will be on our website of the NSP

www.spiritualprogressives.org by Thursday).

**********************************************************************************

(Interesting news note which you can learn more about by gong to

Catholic News Service(Pentagon hosts dinner for U.S. bishops (Nov

18)

Roy Bourgeois threatened with excommunication

Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch, outside a

congressional office building in Washington in 2007 (CNS

photo/Paul Haring)Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA

Watch, outside a congressional office building in Washington in

2007 (CNS photo/Paul Haring)Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been

threatened with excommunication by the Vatican's Congregation of

the Doctrine of the Faith for his support of women's ordination,

according to a letter made public today.

The letter was written by Bourgeois and addressed to the

Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. It was distributed via

e-mail by Bill Quigley, a New Orleans lawyer who represents

Bourgeois.

According to Bourgeois' letter, which is dated Nov. 7, the

congregation has given him 30 days to recant his "belief and

public statements that support the ordination of women in our

Church, or (he) will be excommunicated."

The letter indicates that Bourgeois received notification from the

congregation Oct. 21.

Bourgeois, a priest for 36 years, attended the ordination of

Janice Sevre-Duszynska in Lexingon, Ky., Aug. 9 and preached a

homily.

If Bourgeois is excommunicated at the end of 30 days, it would

come just before the mass rally and protest against the U.S.

Army's School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., that Bourgeois

has organized for 19 years. In recent years, more than 15,000

people, many of them Catholic university students, have joined the

three daylong rally and demonstration.

Bourgeois was not immediately available for comment. The text of

Bourgeois' letter follows.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.

PO Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903

November 7, 2008

TO THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, THE VATICAN

I was very saddened by your letter dated October 21, 2008, giving

me 30 days to recant my belief and public statements that support

the ordination of women in our Church, or I will be

excommunicated.

I have been a Catholic priest for 36 years and have a deep love

for my Church and ministry.

When I was a young man in the military, I felt God was calling me

to the priesthood. I entered Maryknoll and was ordained in 1972.

Over the years I have met a number of women in our Church who,

like me, feel called by God to the priesthood. You, our Church

leaders at the Vatican, tell us that women cannot be ordained.

With all due respect, I believe our Catholic Church's teaching on

this issue is wrong and does not stand up to scrutiny. A 1976

report by the Pontifical Biblical Commission supports the research

of Scripture scholars, canon lawyers and many faithful Catholics

who have studied and pondered the Scriptures and have concluded

that there is no justification in the Bible for excluding women

from the priesthood.

As people of faith, we profess that the invitation to the ministry

of priesthood comes from God. We profess that God is the Source of

life and created men and women of equal stature and dignity. The

current Catholic Church doctrine on the ordination of women

implies our loving and all-powerful God, Creator of heaven and

earth, somehow cannot empower a woman to be a priest.

Women in our Church are telling us that God is calling them to the

priesthood. Who are we, as men, to say to women, "Our call is

valid, but yours is not." Who are we to tamper with God's call?

Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard or how long

we may try to justify discrimination, in the end, it is always

immoral.

Hundreds of Catholic churches in the U.S. are closing because of a

shortage of priests. Yet there are hundreds of committed and

prophetic women telling us that God is calling them to serve our

Church as priests.

If we are to have a vibrant, healthy Church rooted in the

teachings of our Savior, we need the faith, wisdom, experience,

compassion and courage of women in the priesthood.

Conscience is very sacred. Conscience gives us a sense of right

and wrong and urges us to do the right thing. Conscience is what

compelled Franz Jagerstatter, a humble Austrian farmer, husband

and father of four young children, to refuse to join Hitler's

army, which led to his execution. Conscience is what compelled

Rosa Parks to say she could no longer sit in the back of the bus.

Conscience is what compels women in our Church to say they cannot

be silent and deny their call from God to the priesthood.

Conscience is what compelled my dear mother and father, now 95, to

always strive to do the right things as faithful Catholics raising

four children. And after much prayer, reflection and discernment,

it is my conscience that compels me to do the right thing. I

cannot recant my belief and public statements that support the

ordination of women in our Church.

Working and struggling for peace and justice are an integral part

of our faith. For this reason, I speak out against the war in

Iraq. And for the last eighteen years, I have been speaking out

against the atrocities and suffering caused by the School of the

Americas (SOA). Eight years ago, while in Rome for a conference on

peace and justice, I was invited to speak about the SOA on Vatican

Radio. During the interview, I stated that I could not address the

injustice of the SOA and remain silent about injustice in my

Church. I ended the interview by saying, "There will never be

justice in the Catholic Church until women can be ordained." I

remain committed to this belief today.

Having an all male clergy implies that men are worthy to be

Catholic priests, but women are not.

According to USA TODAY (Feb. 28, 2008) in the United States alone,

nearly 5,000 Catholic priests have sexually abused more than

12,000 children. Many bishops, aware of the abuse, remained

silent. These priests and bishops were not excommunicated. Yet the

women in our Church who are called by God and are ordained to

serve God's people, and the priests and bishops who support them,

are excommunicated.

Silence is the voice of complicity. Therefore, I call on all

Catholics, fellow priests, bishops, Pope Benedict XVI and all

Church leaders at the Vatican, to speak loudly on this grave

injustice of excluding women from the priesthood.

Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated because of

his defense of the oppressed. He said, "Let those who have a

voice, speak out for the voiceless."

Our loving God has given us a voice. Let us speak clearly and

boldly and walk in solidarity as Jesus would, with the women in

our Church who are being called by God to the priesthood.

In Peace and Justice,

Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.

PO Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903

Bourgeois homily: 'Conscience compels us to be here today'

Homily text of Father Roy Bourgeois

Published:

August 9, 2008

Lexington, Kentucky

When I met Janice Sevre-Duszynska years ago in the SOA Watch

movement, she spoke about her journey of faith and her call to be

ordained in the Catholic church.

That day has arrived. And we are here to share in her joy and to

support Janice in her call to the priesthood.

As we know, the ordination of women in the Catholic church is a

controversial issue. Ten years ago I wrote the following letter to

my Maryknoll community about why women should be ordained. It was

published in the Maryknoll newsletter under the headline "No One

Likes a Bully."

In prison one has a lot of time for long thoughts and long

prayers. Among my thoughts has been the issue of the ordination of

women in the Catholic church.

Years ago, while in the military, I felt called to the priesthood

and entered Maryknoll. Today I have women friends who say God is

calling them to the priesthood. Who are we to judge their calling?

As people of faith, we believe that a person's call to ministry is

initiated by God and is something sacred. Who among us has the

right to tamper with God's call?

In my 26 years as a priest, it is my experience that we need the

wisdom, sensitivity, experiences, compassion and courage of women

in the priesthood if our church is to be healthy and complete.

Sexism is a sin. However, [according to] the idea of Joan

Chittister, the problem is not so much with sexism as it is with

the perception of God held by those who oppose the ordination of

women. As people of faith we profess that God is all powerful and

the source of life. Yet, when it comes to women being ordained, it

seems that opponents are saying that this same God who is all

powerful and created the heavens and the earth and can bring the

dead back to life, somehow, cannot empower a woman to be a priest.

Suddenly, we as men believe God becomes powerless when women

approach the altar to celebrate Mass.

I am in prison for protesting the training of Latin American

soldiers at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA). The SOA is

about men in Latin America who abuse their power in order to

control the lives of others. They cause people to suffer and are

seen as bullies. There are also bullies in prison who cause fear

and threaten to punish those who speak out.

Just as soldiers in Latin America and inmates in prison abuse

their power and control others, it saddens me to see the hierarchy

of our church abusing their power and causing so much suffering

among women. Jesus was a healer, a peacemaker, who called everyone

into the circle as equals.

The ordination of women in our church is a moral issue and will

not go away. A growing number of people of conscience and faith

feel a responsibility to address this issue. I would very much

appreciate knowing how my brothers and sisters in our Maryknoll

community feel about women being ordained and respectfully ask

that your write Maryknoll News and express your views. In peace,

Roy Bourgeois, MM

Now I have been a Catholic priest for 36 years and I must say,

more than ever before, I am convinced that women should be

ordained in the Catholic church.

The hierarchy will say, "It is the tradition of the church not to

ordain women." I grew up in a small town in Louisiana and often

heard, "It is the tradition of the South to have segregated

schools." It was also "the tradition" in our Catholic church to

have the Black members seated in the last five pews of the

church.

No matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination, in the

end, it is always wrong and immoral. As Reverand Nancy Taylor of

Boston put it, "Prejudice in liturgical clothing is still

prejudice."

We can go to the Scriptures and find numerous passages that

support the ordination of women in the church. In Romans 16:7, we

read that in the early church of Rome, a woman named Junias is

described by Paul as "an apostle" who was imprisoned for spreading

the faith. In Galatians 3:26-28, we read, "It is through faith

that you are God's sons and daughters. ... There is neither male nor

female. In Christ Jesus you are all one." And in the Gospels we

read that after Jesus was crucified, he chose to appear first to

Mary Magdalene and other women. Jesus told the women to go and

bring the news of resurrection to the men who, out of fear, were

hiding behind locked doors.

Janice has been very active in the SOA Watch movement. As a high

school teacher, she participated in a nonviolent protest against

the SOA and was sent to prison for three months. Janice and the

more than 250 others in our movement who have gone to prison are

called, "Prisoners of Conscience."

Conscience is something very sacred. It gives us a sense of right

and wrong and urges us to do the right thing. Conscience is what

compelled Franz Jagerstatter to refuse to enlist in Hitler's army.

On this day, August 9, 1943, this humble farmer was executed for

following his conscience. Conscience is what compelled Rosa Parks

to say, "No, I cannot sit in the back of the bus anymore."

Conscience is what compels Janice Sevre-Duszynska and the other

women to say, "No, we cannot deny our call from God to the

priesthood." And it is our conscience that compels us to be here

today. How can we speak out against the injustice of our country's

foreign policy in Latin America and Iraq if we are silent about

the injustice of our church here at home?

Janice, all of us present in this church today, and the many who

cannot be here, support you and walk in solidarity with you in the

struggle for peace, justice and equality.

May our loving God bless you in your ministry and journey of

faith.

Despite Vatican warning, Father Bourgeois firm on women's

ordination

By Dennis Sadowski

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Despite being threatened with excommunication

by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,

Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois said he would not recant his belief

that women should be ordained as Catholic priests.

"There's nothing that Rome can do to me to take away the peace,

the clarity I have on this issue," Father Bourgeois told Catholic

News Service Nov. 12. "No matter what the consequences, I feel I

am doing the right thing."

Father Bourgeois sent a letter to congregation officials Nov. 7

outlining his stance on women's ordination and how he believes

church "teaching on this issue is wrong and does not stand up to

scrutiny." He said the issue is one of conscience and that he

cannot recant something of which he remains firmly convinced.

The letter was made public Nov. 11 by the priest's attorney, Bill

Quigley, in New Orleans, La.

The 69-year-old priest said his letter was in response to an Oct.

21 notice from the Vatican congregation, headed by Cardinal

William J. Levada, an American, that gave him 30 days to recant

his belief and public statements about the ordination of women or

be excommunicated.

Known widely for his 19-year campaign to close a U.S. army school

at Fort Benning, Ga., that trains Latin American soldiers, Father

Bourgeois attracted the attention of the leaders of his order and

church officials following his participation in a reported

ordination ceremony sponsored by Roman Catholic Womenpriests Aug.

9 in Lexington, Ky.

In August Father Bourgeois said he concelebrated the liturgy,

delivered the homily and laid hands on longtime friend and fellow

peace activist Janice Sevre-Duszynska during what traditionally

would have been the ordination rite at the ceremony in a Unitarian

Universalist church. He said he was invited to the ceremony by

Sevre-Duszynska and decided to participate after a period of

discernment.

He received a canonical warning from Maryknoll leadership during

an Aug. 18 meeting with representatives of the order's General

Council in Maryknoll, N.Y. At the time, Father Bourgeois said he

hoped the issue was settled because he had no intention of

participating in any other such ceremony.

The Maryknoll order, through spokeswoman Betsey Guest, said Nov.

13 that a confidential notice had been received from the Vatican

congregation and forwarded to Father Bourgeois. She said the order

"continues to respect the confidentiality" of the communications.

"We are definitely required to abide by the decision by the

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," she said. "At the

same time we have an obligation to ensure the canonical rights of

our members."

She added that it would be Father Bourgeois' decision on the next

step to take once a final decision from the congregation is

received.

The congregation's letter came as a shock, said Father Bourgeois,

who was ordained in 1972. "The seriousness set in," he said. "It

wasn't complicated. They said very seriously I had 30 days and if

I didn't recant I will be excommunicated. That's pretty serious.

That's pretty clear. No ifs, ands or buts."

Father Bourgeois said he spent two weeks in prayer and discernment

before crafting his response. He said he then drove from his home

in Columbus, Ga., to Lutcher, La., 35 miles west of New Orleans,

to meet with his family, including his 95-year-old father.

"To them and to me (my father) said, 'Roy has been all over the

world and God brought him back from the war in Vietnam safely. God

brought him back from Bolivia and El Salvador (where he served as

a Maryknoll missioner) and God is going to take care of him now. I

support him 100 percent and he's doing the right thing,'" Father

Bourgeois told CNS.

"When we get the blessing from family and loved ones, it does

bring some peace. At the same time, it saddens me to put them

through this," he said.

For now, Father Bourgeois will continue to prepare for the Nov.

21-23 vigil and procession to the gates of Fort Benning in

Columbus, the home of the Western Hemisphere Institute for

Security Cooperation, the army school he has been trying to close

for nearly two decades.

He also said he may try to arrange a meeting with congregation

officials with the help of his superiors in New York and in Rome

to discuss the issue.

**********************************************************************************

Father's blessing brings peace to Roy Bourgeois

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By THOMAS ROBERTS

Published:

November 17, 2008

(CNS file photo, 2004)(CNS file photo, 2004)In his own words,

Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois has "poked at a lot of hornets nests"

along the way from soldier in Vietnam to committed pacifist and

persistent critic of U.S. military policy. He's poked at the

presumptions of major institutions and systems, including, most

recently, standing in opposition to the Catholic church's ban on

ordaining women.

But for all of the heat he's taken, for all of the scary episodes

that come with bucking the status quo, one of the most emotionally

wrenching moments of his life occurred just days ago in the living

room of his childhood home.

There he stood, with his sisters, Ann and Janet, and his brother,

Dan. They had read his response to the Vatican's threat of

excommunication if he did not recant his position supporting

women's ordination. In it he had said he could no more rescind his

position on ordination of women than he could recant his

opposition to the training of foreign troops at what was once

called the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., or his

opposition to the war in Iraq.

So they all knew that his 36-year career as a priest was probably

nearing an end, that after 36 years of service, work among the

poor and against military violence, he would be ostracized, no

longer considered a part of the church community.

They waited now to hear what 95-year-old Roy Sr., devout Catholic

and daily Mass attendee, would say about this latest in a long

history of controversies involving his son.

"My siblings were afraid this would break his heart. My sister Ann

was the first to ask him, 'Daddy, how do you feel about this?' "

Bourgeois recalled in a Nov. 17 phone interview. "My dad cried.

He's a soft-hearted guy. But then he got his composure and said:

'God brought Roy back from the war in Vietnam. God took care of

Roy in his mission work in Bolivia and El Salvador, and God is

going to take care of Roy now.' Then he said, 'Roy is doing the

right thing by following his conscience, and I support him.' "

They all wept, said Bourgeois. It was curious, he said, because

all of them had worried that the news would be terribly upsetting

to his father. "But then this person of great inner strength

looked at us and said, 'God will look after the family, too.' "

Bourgeois, who faces almost certain excommunication, was the

founder of an annual protest outside the gates of Fort Benning and

what once was called the School of the Americas. This year's

protest will be held Nov. 21-23. The school's name was changed in

recent years to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security

Cooperation.

As the School of the Americas, the facility trained scores of

Latin American military who can be traced to committing or

overseeing some of the most horrendous human rights abuses in

modern Latin American history. Troops engaged in assassinations,

disappearances, torture and massacres of hundreds of thousands

throughout the region. Some of the most heinous crimes occurred in

El Salvador and Guatemala during periods of civil war there in the

latter part of the 20th century.

Bourgeois is known primarily for his campaign against the School

of the Americas and opposition to the war in Iraq as well as his

advocacy of the story of Franz Jagerstatter, the Austrian farmer

who was executed for refusing induction into the German military

during World War II.

Increasingly in recent years, however, he has become a vocal

critic of the church's ban on women's ordination. He said he kept

meeting women who said they had a call from God for ordination.

"Who are we, as men, to say their call is illegitimate," he

regularly asked.

For Bourgeois, the issue was a matter of justice, and he reached a

point this past summer when he could no longer remain on the

sidelines. Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a regular protester at the

School of the Americas, asked Bourgeois to attend her ordination

Aug. 9 in Lexington, Ky. She became the sixth woman to be ordained

in the United States this year as part of the Roman Catholic

Womenpriests movement.

The Vatican response arrived Oct. 21, threatening excommunication

unless Bourgeois recanted his statements saying the church is

wrong and unjust in maintaining the ban.

When he received the letter, Bourgeois, canceled all plans. He

travels widely, giving talks and consulting with representatives

of Latin American governments to persuade them to stop sending

soldiers to the United States for training.

He decided to go into solitude for two weeks to meditate and pray

and to work on his response to the Vatican. He completed the

response Nov. 7, mailed it and headed off on a seven-hour drive to

his childhood home in tiny Lutcher, La., where his father still

lives.

He had arranged a meeting with his siblings and his father. His

sisters, especially, were fearful about what the news would do to

his father.

"When I received his blessing and the blessing of my family, I

felt a great peace. A total peace came over me. And I've felt

peaceful ever since I came back from Louisiana." Nothing the

Vatican does, he said, can take that peace and serenity away.

Still, he prepares for a lonely move into the unknown. Fellow

priests have called and written to voice their agreement and

support, but all of them say they can't do it publicly because it

would jeopardize their ministries and positions within the church.

He doesn't know what kind of association, if any, he'll be able to

maintain with Maryknoll in the future.

Bourgeois expects a final word from Rome soon. His deadline to

recant is Nov. 21.

Betsy Guest, Maryknoll spokesperson, said the society was led to

believe that a response will be made Nov. 24. She said that unless

Rome levies further penalties, such as revoking Bourgeois'

membership in the society, he can remain a member of Maryknoll,

though he will be unable to function as a priest. He hopes that

when the final word comes he would be given the courtesy of

15-minute visits with Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal William

Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,

the Vatican office that issued the warning of excommunication.

"I am not angry," said Bourgeois, who acknowledged early on that

his attendance at the ordination could have serious consequences.

"I don't want to respond in anger. I would like to meet with them

personally to explain my position and make my appeal."