By Fr. Roy Bourgeois: "My Prayer..."

Hi All,

As stated on my profile, I come on this forum to ask “faith questions.”
So here’s a doozy:

Two big stories that were in the news and talked about on this forum last week re the Catholic faith that caught my interest and curiosity include:

  1. A poll conducted by CBS News/NYTimes that yielded the title: “U.S. Catholics Want A Younger, More Liberal Pope”
  2. A CBS news story titled, “Women Demand Greater Say in Future of Catholic Church.”

Both stories detail the topic of female ordination–the poll stating that a majority (69 percent) of Catholics want the ordination of women. Yesterday, the New York Times published a column by Roy Bourgeois, the (former) priest of forty years who was expelled from the priesthood because he supported the ordination of women.

I found his sentiments in the column very moving and sensible (short excerpt and link below).

Do any Catholics here on CAF hold similar views to those expressed here?
I don’t think so…
But why do the Catholics I meet out on the street, face to face, seem to have one belief system, similar to Roy Bourgeois…and the Catholics here on CAF seem to have another that is vastly different?
It feels as though there exists two extreme groups in the Church with opposing beliefs, and the one on the street looks to be the majority?
Who are the “real” Catholics?

If you have a moment, please read the entire column by Father Bourgeois, below, and tell me what you think.


Op-Ed Contributor
My Prayer: Let Women Be Priests
March 20, 2013

AFTER serving as a Roman Catholic priest for 40 years, I was expelled from the priesthood last November because of my public support for the ordination of women.

Catholic priests say that the call to be a priest comes from God. As a young priest, I began to ask myself and my fellow priests: “Who are we, as men, to say that our call from God is authentic, but God’s call to women is not?” Isn’t our all-powerful God, who created the cosmos, capable of empowering a woman to be a priest?
Let’s face it. The problem is not with God, but with an all-male clerical culture that views women as lesser than men. Though I am not optimistic, I pray that the newly elected Pope Francis will rethink this antiquated and unholy doctrine.

I am 74 years old. I first felt God calling me to be a priest when I was serving in the Navy in Vietnam. I was accepted into the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in New York and was ordained in 1972. After working with the poor of Bolivia for five years, I returned to the United States. In my years of ministry, I met many devout Catholic women who told me about their calling to the priesthood.

Their eagerness to serve God began to keep me awake at night. As Catholics, we are taught that men and women are created equal: “There is neither male nor female. In Christ you are one” (Galatians 3:28)…

Here’s the link for the entire column:


The fact that a notorious heretic like Mr. Bourgeois (and The New York Times) wants female priests should be a very strong argument against such a practice. An even stronger argument is the fact that the apostolic Church has defined this issue for two thousand years from Christ and his apostles down to this very day. The Judeo-Christian faith has never been about public opinion polls or following the trend. Pilate was following popular opinion when he crucified Christ. Flee from what is popular with the crowd.

Absolutely correct. There will always be (and there always have been) those who think they know better than the Church. The Church is not a democratic institution. Our Lord was not “elected” as the Messiah. Not once in all of her history has the Church conducted elections (except, of course, the election of a new pope), nor has she ever put any of her tenets to the faithful’s vote. Those who insist that she adopt this idea or change that teaching because of its popularity or because an idea appeals to many clearly do not understand the structure and/or purpose of the Church. To entertain that the Church’s teachings, especially those which have been upheld for 2,000 years, can be changed simply because there are those people who think they should be changed, (such as women’s ordination, same-sex marriage, artificial birth control, etc.) do not possess the humility necessary to be a follower of Jesus Christ. The Church’s teachings are simply not up for debate. “ROMA LOCUTA EST, CAUSA FINITA EST.” (“Rome has spoken, the matter is closed.”)

A lot of “Catholics” in the U.S. don’t even attend Mass on Sunday or Holy Days of obligation. I think the last set of statistics I saw said that as many as 75% fit into this category. I think that really disqualifies them for giving their opinion as faithful Catholics. Those “Catholics” obviously either don’t know their faith, or don’t believe in it. Why would we care what they think?

I recently read where 92% of practicing married Catholics use some form of artificial birth control. To me, that is shocking. My personal opinion is that this is partly because of very, very poor catechesis in the last 40+ years. My two younger sisters grew up as what I call “Jesus loves me” Catholics. That’s all they were really taught as children and adolescents. I was blessed enough to have been brought up before all the feel-good, skipping down the “yellow-brick-road”, relativistic catechesis beginning in the late 60’s. However, that is not an excuse any longer. The Church has made a concerted effort in the past two decades to rectify the almost heretical, and definitely watered down religious instruction that is so common in so many parishes and schools. It is still an ongoing problem, but at least we’re not all skipping down the aisle holding hands and singing “Koom-ba-ya” anymore.

Do any Catholics here on CAF hold similar views to those expressed here?

I’m certainly open-minded to the possibility of women priests. Murals from the 2nd century show what some to believe are women in priestly dress, and presiding over an agape meal, or possibly a Eucharist, so the earliest church may have been more open to women in positions within the clergy than we commonly think.

I certainly think there should be free expression of view on this matter - truth never needs protecting by censorship. Truth will always shine out in the end, and censorship will never keep people silent for ever.

It will be interesting see whether Pope Francesco is more tolerant of the discussion being more open, though I would be very surprised if he himself supported the ordination of women.

At a minimum I think there ought to be serious consideration given to the deaconite so that women could follow in the scriptural tradition of Phoebe.

This clip, on the subject, from the historian Bettany Hughes is thoughtful:

God bless +

Phoebe, etc. aren’t in the positions some people propose. There are explanations out there, but I have a cold a don’t have the energy to look them up myself right now.

There IS no ‘question’ about women priests.

It has already been comprehensively and infallibly taught by the Church that She has no authority to ordain women priests. Not then, not now, not ever. There can be no ‘development’ of a doctrine such that it will contradict previous doctrine. While we can come to a deeper understanding of why God is a Trinity, God will never teach that He is a Duo or a Quartet. While we can come to a deeper understanding of why the Eucharist is confected with Bread and Wine, and how God is fully present in each, we will never be taught that the Eucharist can be confected with rice cakes and juice. While we can come to a deeper understanding of marriage between a man and a woman, we will never be taught that marriage can be between man and man, or woman and woman.

So while we will (and HAVE) come to a deeper understanding of why God chose men only as priests (in the face of other cultures’ choosing mainly, or only, women), we will never be taught that women can be priests.

There is no possibility for discussion of something that won’t occur. It’s like saying, 'let’s discuss having the rainbow be made of musical notes instead of light".


But there is still a question of whether God could, at some point (maybe soon, maybe later), give the Church that authority as we progress ever more towards the destiny of equality in Christ. The trajectory of scripture, to me, is one that points always beyond where we are, to where we are going. Even in times of slavery, the Sabbath pointed towards equality of all, and no forced labour. Paul said he didn’t allow women to speak in Church, and yet also so beautifully pointed forwards to the ultimate equality and identity of all, male and female, in Christ. We are a pilgrim people and, I believe, we can discuss where we are going as well as being clear about where we are now, as blessed JP-II was in his day.

God bless +

God bless you also.

But again as I noted above, the Church (in your example) never taught that slavery was good in itself. There was always an ‘end’ (Jewish people freed ALL their slaves every ‘50th’ year, slaves could buy freedom, etc.) So there was no point where the Church taught, "slavery is good and must be permitted’ and then reversed and said, "slavery is bad and must be condemned’. There was no ‘development’ to where a taught doctrine was completely reversed.

So again, there will never be a change to the teaching about ‘women priests’ anymore than we will change the Eucharist to rice and juice, EVEN THOUGH SOME people are allergic to wheat, and SOME people are alcoholic. We don’t and we can’t ‘change’ the valid matter of a sacrament.

Holy orders is a sacrament just like the Eucharist. Valid matter is a male, not just a ‘human person who can be male or female or ‘trans’ or whatever’.

Warning - I’m going to take a meandering path to get to my point, so bear with me. :o

There’s a lot that will predictably be said on this thread about the subject of ordaining women. I’m going to try to say something original. We’ll see how successful or not I am. :shrug:

My current views are traditional on the matter. At the time of my coming of age, however, in the late-1970s and early 1980s, I was starting to buy into the “it’s only fair” school of argument on the issue. I didn’t understand all the theological issues involved (priest as spouse of the Church, “in persona Christi” and so on).

During my younger and more naive days, though, I did feel some disappointment about this and other Church pastoral efforts toward women as a whole. The idea of men and women being different seemed a little bit like going backwards - at first glance. One must delve deeper into some of these things to truly understand, because on the surface they can appear to favor males over females or say that women are less intelligent or competent. Or that they should be “barefoot and pregnant.”

As I went through the years I saw women trying to juggle so many roles, women choosing to be single mothers. I even considered adopting children as a single mom myself when it became apparent that Mr. Right was nowhere in sight. It was actually my own process of thinking this idea through that made me realize it would be too much for one person to voluntarily take on. Others have been able to make it sort of work; others are single moms because of unexpected pregnancy or divorce. But they struggle.

All in all, though, I began to see the “traditional” family of Mom and Dad - to even accept submitting to the husband :eek: (say what?!) as not so bad as it has been portrayed in pop culture. My pastor has given great homilies on the subject, some of the best I’ve ever heard - dissecting the word sub-mission meaning the husband sets the Christian “mission” for the wife and kids and sub meaning “under” but not in the sense of doormat, more like under the umbrella of. I’m paraphrasing some of this because I don’t recall Fr.'s exact wording. But it made sense and even felt joyful.

Okay, now back to Ray Bourgeois’s take on the matter. (See, I really did get around to it! :smiley: ) The quotation that I bolded did strike me as a fair question - and deserving of a fair answer. Yes, God could if He decided He wanted to. He can do anything. He could change the entire laws of physics of the cosmos, He could change our very nature, He could do lots of things. But in this He has not - thus far - given the Church this permission, he has not changed the nuptial paradigm of the Church as the Bride of Christ.

Do people really think the previous Popes didn’t give serious, prayerful consideration to the arguments on both sides?! The Popes are so often portrayed as out-of-touch, calcified fossils shackled by “outmoded” traditions. In reality they were live, dynamic, prayerful men who don’t get enough credit sometimes for the issues they have to wrestle with, their love for the Catholic Faithful, their serious responsibility for the good of the souls entrusted to them. Through prayerful discernment - not some “good old boys’ club” meeting in a smoke-filled den, they discerned that God’s will was not toward changing the Church’s teaching on the ordination of women, but even to reinforce the permanency that She should not go in that direction.

That’s how we roll as faithful Catholics. 'Nuff said.

Hi TE,

I was actually thinking of the Jewish slave system (which we know is different to the black slave trade, but was still bondage). There were times God, in scripture, does indeed approve the buying of slaves (e.g. Leviticus 25:44) - and yet we also have the imagery of the Sabbath and Paul’s writings which say that in Christ there is no slave and free (Galatians 3:28, which of course is where Paul says that there is no male and female in Christ).

So I would say God’s people are taken through a period of slavery (from both sides!) but always God was pointing beyond to a time of no slavery, physical or spiritual.

I just wonder whether the same might be true of emancipation of women as we head ever towards identity in our Lord?

I have to say though, I’m not certain. I’d like more open discussion if only to help me and others explore the issue. I thought JP-II’s wording was very clever though - it was very strong but, by its use of present tense, it did not bind the Church for all time.

God bless +

Roy Bourgeois makes very important points, and I suspect that Pope Francis I will pray over these points. For one thing, as Maryknoll priest Father Gustavo Gutierrez states in his book on liberation theology, women are among the poor of the earth about whom Christ was most concerned. That He intended for them to have a central role in his ministry is signified by his appearing to them first after his resurrection. That He was open to hearing their viewpoints and changing his own mind upon processing their thoughts is signified by his curing the daughter of the woman who, though not Jewish, caused him to review his decision to cure only Jews. Jesus taught women, and he allowed women to advance his own thinking . . . in particular on behalf of the poor. Pope Francis I stands for the poor of the earth, and he will certainly consider bringing women into the priesthood if their ordination can extend Christ’s healing, teaching, and sacramental life to them. Every time the Catholic Church throws out a dedicated, courageous worker like Roy Bourgeois, and then a good Catholic labels him a “heretic,” there is a further extension of suffering on the earth. Mark my words: Pope Francis I will not extend the suffering of the poor.

Welcome to the forums. :slight_smile: Quite a first post.

Pope Francis will not, can not, change the doctrine about the ordination of women. And it has nothing to do with the suffering of the poor. All of the Popes of my lifetime have allowed and encouraged women’s input in their thinking but that’s not anywhere near the same as throwing out doctrine. All of the Popes, at least for the last couple of hundred years, have stood for the poor. Neither of those things lead to a conclusion of womens “ordination”. Sorry.


Protestants vote, Anglicans are voting, Episcopalians are voting and doing eveything that you are saying that they should do and the end result is anarchy, division, and in many cases take over of churches by homosexuals.

This thread details what happens when you follow polls and votes…

Wrongly Dividing the Body of Christ

Priests are called to be Obedient, Chaste and potentially accept Poverty or at least live within the means they are given. Those that want change should stick around and try to change from within. Catherine of Sienna was one of those.

Luther, Calvin, and others changed from outside and now you have division after division without any authority getting what would happen if there was voting and polls that caused a change. Dissent is welcome. Obedience is necessary…it is just that simple.

Lutherans, Presbyterians and Anglicans are becoming increasingly split over these issues that you note are polled and voted on…pretty dismal if you ask me…

Already exhaustively covered, recently, here:

But why do the Catholics I meet out on the street, face to face, seem to have one belief system, similar to Roy Bourgeois…and the Catholics here on CAF seem to have another that is vastly different?
It feels as though there exists two extreme groups in the Church with opposing beliefs, and the one on the street looks to be the majority?
Who are the “real” Catholics?

If you’re talking about who is representative (currently) of “popular” Catholicism, it’s obviously the Man on the Street. The problem is, even if he’s in the majority, the opinions, if opposed to Catholic teaching, are not authentically representative of the deposit of faith. They are merely personal diversions from that faith. There are also an awful lot of horribly catechized and under-catechized Catholics “on the street,” given the cumulative result of neglected catechesis in the last couple of decades, minimum. An entire generation has been raised with minimal catechesis in some cases, and heterodox catechesis in other cases. (A minority of the current young generation was adequately taught.)

As to Roy Bourgeois, he’s a very controversial character who is not representative of any mainstream Catholic priest. I wouldn’t place too much faith in his words.

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