Maryknoll on Father Bourgeois: Some agree, some do not

I mentioned the other day that Maryknoll’s Father Roy Bourgeois has been in the news again of late — taking his call for the ordination of women right to the Vatican.

I also wrote that he has a lot of support at Ossining-based Maryknoll, the generally liberal Catholic foreign missions society.

Turns out that Maryknoll has released a statement about that support (and its limits). So here it is:


The Maryknoll Society continues to receive correspondence and calls in support of Father Bourgeois. Maryknoll also receives many letters and calls from Catholics who do not agree with his views or his actions.

From the beginning, Maryknoll determined that this matter required a thoughtful approach. Since this matter is between Father Bourgeois and his Church and not between Father Bourgeois and Maryknoll, the Maryknoll Society decided it was necessary to have Father Bourgeois engage in communication with his Church to discuss the issues that separate them.

Maryknoll has repeatedly attempted to bridge the channels of communications. Father Bourgeois, unfortunately, always has elected not to pursue the opportunities provided to him by Maryknoll.

Currently, as this matter is reviewed, Father Bourgeois remains a member of the Maryknoll Society. Some within the Society agree with his view, while many others do not. Many also are not pleased with the manner in which he has conducted himself, indicating that this matter is between him and his Church and not with Maryknoll.

Whatever the final outcome between Father Bourgeois and the Church, Maryknoll will continue to provide for him spiritually and financially, should he be in need and request such support.

Maryknoll wishes that more Catholics would understand that it is Maryknoll that has tried to open the doors of dialogue for Father Bourgeois over these three years and that it is Maryknoll that will continue to befriend him as part of its extended family no matter his decision or the decision of the Church.


On a side note, Maryknoll’s year-long centennial celebrations will culminate on Sunday (Oct. 30) with a Centennial Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 2 p.m.

The principal celebrant will be Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington.

The Mass can be viewed live at

Another catch-up on the news…

I’ve been too busy to blog of late. I’ll try to write more, but it’s all about finding the time.

Catching up on a few things:

1. Father Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who faces dismissal from the order because of his support for women’s ordination, is not going quietly. He led a march to the Vatican a few days back to press his cause and was briefly detained by police. Bourgeois either has been excommunicated or soon will be because of his public stand, depending on which report you read.

Bourgeois’ ongoing, very pubic struggle with the church is surely causing anguish for many at Ossining-based Maryknoll, where many love Bourgeois but can’t support him openly.

2. The Metropolitan New York Synod of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is starting a “strategic planning process” for its future.

They’re asking congregants to fill out on-line surveys by the end of the year that ask for the main strength of one’s congregation, the most significant issue facing one’s congregation and one’s “dream” or vision for their congregation.

It’s hard for me to see how such a survey will produce any new information or surprises. You can pretty much predict what the most common responses will be.

3. As Mitt Romney holds on as one of the top contenders for the GOP nomination, we are hearing more and more about his Mormon faith and what it means to non-Mormon Republicans (just as we did four years ago).

If you don’t really get, I strongly suggest that you read a recent explainer by Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of the country’s best religion writers. She offers a terrific primer on Mormon belief that offers just enough theology. Give it a try.

4. Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Kingdom since 1991 and one of the world’s most prominent rabbis and Jewish thinkers, will speak next Saturday night, Oct. 29, at 8 at Young Israel of Scarsdale.

You can see a sampling of numerous writings and speeches and “thoughts of the day” on his website.

Voice of the Faithful hanging on

Last night, I was invited to speak to the Larchmont chapter of Voice of the Faithful.

I believe it is the only VOTF chapter in Westchester County (and one of only a couple in the entire Archdiocese of New York).

You might remember that VOTF was started in Boston in 2002, as the sex-abuse crisis began to spiral out of the control. The group initially presented itself as faithful Catholics — not radicals — who were disgusted by the crisis and wanted to call for a greater lay voice in their church.

Eight years later, VOTF is still going.

But the group hasn’t grown, has withered in many places and — importantly — has few members under 60. Nationally, the group has broadened its message, making less effort to distinguish itself from Catholic reform groups like Call to Action.

The 30 or so people who came to Larchmont Avenue Presbyterian Church last night seemed uncertain about the influence of Voice of the Faithful. During the Q&A part, several people wondered why Catholics in their 30s and 40s don’t get involved.

They asked me to talk about my life as a religion writer, which I did. How I got involved. The different communities I covered. Things like that.

Then we talked about whether the New York Times has an anti-Catholic bent, why more people don’t know about the Legionaries of Christ scandal, the relationship between bishops and priests, the ongoing abuse scandals in Ireland and Germany. And things like that.

Everybody was very kind and affirming. These are people who read many of my religion articles, which is always nice to hear.

I told the group that I had mixed feelings about not covering their church’s recent international problems (since I no longer cover religion, of course).

On the one hand, it would be quite interesting to talk to Catholics about their feelings regarding the news.

On the other, I would quickly tire of having to contend with the question of whether the media (particularly the NYT) are anti-Catholic. And I would also dislike being called anti-Catholic myself on a near-daily basis, which is what happened when I wrote about any aspect of the sex-abuse scandals.

So I’ll keep following things from afar, until my editor tells me otherwise.

A side note: Voice of the Faithful New York will on Sunday (May 16) honor Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who may or may be excommunicated for participating in the unsanctioned “ordination” of a female priest.

They’re giving him the Msgr. Philip J. Murnion Priest of Integrity Award.

A statement says: “The award recognizes Fr. Roy’s call for justice for women in the Catholic Church.”