Priest Excommunicated From Church Leads Discussion on Ordaining Women
A Roman Catholic priest who was recently excommunicated from the Church visited Rochester on Tuesday. Father Roy Bourgeois was expelled after refusing to recant his support of ordaining women.
After 40 years of serving the Catholic Church, Father Roy Bourgeois, now 73, was dismissed from his religious order last week. Father Bourgeois was excommunicated in 2008 because of his support for women's ordination, but a local viewing of his documentary "Pink Smoke over the Vatican" is continuing the discussion for him.
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It's a bold stance.
"When I began to see the Church teaching that excludes women from ordination an injustice,” said Father Roy Bourgeois.
The cost of speaking out against Roman Catholic Church teachings became clear to Father Roy Bourgeois last week when he was expelled from his religious order, MaryKnoll Fathers and Brothers.
“It hurts, it's very painful to be kicked out of the priesthood where I found my joy, hope and meaning in life."
Father Bourgeois says it's not complicated: refusing to ordain women is sexist and isn't backed by scripture.
"Who are we as men to say that our call from God is authentic and yours as women is not. What I see here is a grave injustice against women and our loving God."
The Vatican says female ordination goes against God's teachings. In 2008, the Vatican went as far as to call the attempted ordination of women a grave act, in the same category as pedophilia and sexual abuse.
"The Vatican is saying there can't even be discussion on this topic and my answer is we are not children, we are adults."
The argument has grabbed people's attention. Every seat at the Cinema Theatre was filled for Tuesday's showing. The film cited everything from history and archeology to ancient documents, supporting the claim that women have an equal calling to the priesthood.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester declined an interview but gave a statement, saying in part:
"Catholic Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women and that this teaching is to be held definitively."
Bourgeois' views may seem radical to some, but he's far from alone. Numerous petitions circled nationwide, and in his own order, have been signed by fellow priests backing his beliefs.
Bourgeois says change can only come through the support of young people and women in the church.
"We have a right and a responsibility as responsible Catholics to express freely our beliefs, they can kick me out of the priesthood but this movement is unstoppable."
The audience left the theater in contemplation, wondering if tradition will stand the test of the time.
A few sisters from local orders told YNN they are in favor of ordaining women, but declined to be interviewed on camera.
A recent New York Times poll found that 59 percent of American Catholics favor the ordination of women.