BREAKING NEWS: Fr. Roy Bourgeois Excommunicated

It is very disappointing to share that Fr. Roy Bourgeois was excommunicated, dismissed, and laicized by the Vatican as a result of his support for women’s ordination and the eradication of sexism in the Catholic Church.  The following was sent out for immediate release by Maryknoll on November 19, 2012.  Additional information will be shared once released.


The Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith
Canonically Dismisses Roy Bourgeois

Maryknoll, New York – November 19, 2012 – The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on October 4, 2012, canonically dismissed Roy Bourgeois from the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, also known as the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. The decision dispenses the Maryknoll priest from his sacred bonds.As a priest during 2008, Mr. Bourgeois participated in the invalid ordination of a woman and a simulated Mass in Lexington, Kentucky. With patience, the Holy See and the Maryknoll Society have encouraged his reconciliation with the Catholic Church.

Instead, Mr. Bourgeois chose to campaign against the teachings of the Catholic Church in secular and non-Catholic venues. This was done without the permission of the local U.S. Catholic Bishops and while ignoring the sensitivities of the faithful across the country. Disobedience and preaching against the teaching of the Catholic Church about women’s ordination led to his excommunication, dismissal and laicization.

Mr. Bourgeois freely chose his views and actions, and all the members of the Maryknoll Society are saddened at the failure of reconciliation. With this parting, the Maryknoll Society warmly thanks Roy Bourgeois for his service to mission and all members wish him well in his personal life. In the spirit of equity and charity, Maryknoll will assist Mr. Bourgeois with this transition.

Fr. Roy responded (

November 20, 2012 


I have been a Catholic priest in the Maryknoll community for 40 years. As a young man I joined Maryknoll because of its work for justice and equality in the world. To be expelled from Maryknoll and the priesthood for believing that women are also called to be priests is very difficult and painful.

The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church. The demand for gender equality is rooted in justice and dignity and will not go away.

As Catholics, we profess that God created men and women of equal worth and dignity. As priests, we profess that the call to the priesthood comes from God, only God. Who are we, as men, to say that our call from God is authentic, but God’s call to women is not? The exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, our Church and our loving God who calls both men and women to be priests.

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. My only regret is that it took me so long to confront the issue of male power and domination in the Catholic Church.

I have explained my position on the ordination of women, and how I came to it, in my booklet, My Journey from Silence to Solidarity. Please go to:

In Solidarity,

Share Fr. Roy’s Story and Pledge To Break the Silence on Women’s Ordination This Holiday Season by signing the petition found here:

Author: Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Michele Stopera Freyhauf is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and a Member of the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University as well as an Instructor at John Carroll University’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies. Michele has an M. A. in Theology and Religious Studies from John Carroll University, and did post-graduate work at the University of Akron in the area of History of Religion, Women, and Sexuality. She is also a Member-at-Large on the Student Advisory Board for the Society of Biblical Literature and the student representative on the Board for Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society (EGLBS). Michele is a feminist scholar, activist, and author of several articles including “Hagia Sophia: Political and Religious Symbolism in Stones and Spolia” and lectured during the Commission for the Status of Women at the United Nations (2013). Michele can be followed on Twitter @msfreyhauf and @biblicalfem. Her website can be accessed here and is visible on other social media sites like LinkedIn and Google+.

16 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS: Fr. Roy Bourgeois Excommunicated”

  1. I am surprised at the lack of outrage in this news report which makes a point of laying the blame at Mr Bourgeois’ door for proclaiming his support for the ordination of women in the Catholic Church without its permission. Surely the fault is not with him but with an institution that steadfastly refuses women their rightful role in its religion and church.


  2. That’s ok Father Bourgeois, you are a brave man and we are all so grateful to have u support. The boys in the band will in fact loosen their jockstrap whether they like it or not.
    The Amazons have returned, non violent yet determined.


  3. This is indeed sad, and it calls to mind the legions who have been “dismissed” from families and institutions because of beliefs we are unwilling to compromise. For every one person who is publicly dismissed there are thousands who have quietly left and thousands who hold their tongues in hopes that they won’t be next.


    1. As I prepare to go to Mass this morning, Thanksgiving Day, I will thank Fr. Roy for his courage to be one voice in the struggle to expose the inequality in our Church that so many of us work to correct. He has been freed from the shackles of oppression and will stand as example of Kung’s calling to attenton the corruption in our Church.
      Yes, Carol, a sad day as it is another slap in the face for women around the globe who will not silence themselves and in hope will and can stand up even in stronger solidarity for this aberrant act of injustice.
      Yes, those who are in support are silenced also once again and another shackle of fear to burden their fears even more. At least one voice is now free, to join the others who have quietly left because they can stand it no longer.
      Let’s give thanks for the voices that ARE there to support and counter sexism and racism in the Church and pray for more voices to stand up to freedom and voice their solidarity which as Fr. Roy would say, with equality and justice!!.


  4. It’s never easy to make the right choice. It’s not rational to blame the Vatican for choices Father Burgeois made of his own free will. If he thinks he’s doing the right thing, why do you feel badly for him? If you think he’s made the right choice, you should be happy for him.

    We each of us only have one life to live, and life’s too short to go around with regrets or doubts. That’s why you really have to be certain when making big decisions concerning faith.

    I assume he chose to become a priest of his own free will, but never really believed what the Church taught. If that’s the case, and he always believed other than what the Church teaches, you should be glad he is finally at least being consistent. In that way, then, the Church is being helpful to him. So now you can stop finding fault with the Catholic Church.


  5. Rain fire and brimstone on my head if you want, but from where I’m standing, the expulsion of this man FROM the Church makes a whole lot more sense than why so many women stay IN the Church in the face of hostility, humiliation and marginelisation, . If enough women left (maybe to start their own Marian centered congregation) the whole thing would collapse all by itself…….. same for Orthodox Judaism, Islam, Evangelical Christianity, etc etc…. I don’t get it: why do y’all hung on in there when nothing is ever going to change because if you succeed in changing anything you will simply be thrown out on your ear (at best, some places you may get killed). OK, bring on the fire and brimstone.


  6. Women being ordained has nothing to do with sexism. It’s not going to happen so get over it or go Anglican. Stop trying to force the Catholic Church to accept something that it is NEVER going to accept. The highest calling in the Church is not the priesthood; it’s MOTHERHOOD. It does not bother me a bit that I cannot be a priest. However, I might be raising one and that is much more of a responsibility. The Church has a high regard for women. Just try running a parish without us! We make up over 99% of catechists and well over 70% in other ministries. I am sooooooo tired of hearing how outdated the Church is. There are two major complaints about the Catholic Church: 1. The Church never changes. 2. The Church is always changing. LOL, ya can’t please everyone.


    1. If the Church has such high regard for women, and Motherhood is the highest calling within it (not what I was taught when raised Catholic, but there you go) why does it fight tooth and nail to prevent women having any kind of autonomy over their reproductive health ? And if it thinks motherhood such a wonderful thing, why does it leave mothers to die from aids by preventing them the use of condoms which would afford them considerable protection from husbands who have the disease ? And why does it imagine that, for example, poor Fillippino women with already large families can shoulder the burden of yet another hungry child crying for food ? Or that a women dying from septicemia should be denied the abortion for which she begged because it would have put her out of her agony as well as saving her life (as happened in the past few days in ‘Catholic’ Ireland) thus condemning her and her baby to a painful death ?

      I can only think that there is no chance of your child dying from malnutrition because there are already too many mouths to feed, of of your husband giving you aids without you even knowing it until you are already yourself dying; or that no-one in your family has been unfortunate enough to have to deal with unwanted pregnancy from rape either within or outside of marriage. And that, as a result of all that good fortune, you are have never been confronted with the kinds of impossible choices faced by millions of women because the Church has blocked them access to the contraception which would not only save a huge majority of them from aids, but enable them to make real choices about their own lives and the lives of their children. Instead, the Church insists that celibate men should decide these matters for them. This does not, on my view, imply any kind of ‘regard’ for women at all, let alone the ‘highest’.

      As to the matter of women priests, it was Jesus himself who told the women at the Tomb that they should ‘go tell the good news’ of His Resurrection. If that isn’t a command to preach the Gospel, I don’t know what is. By preventing women from becoming priests, the Church denies the word of Jesus himself.


  7. Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
    PO Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903
    November 7, 2008


    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


  8. Do we still live in the Dark Ages, when women were chattels? So it may seem, as long as women are to serve the Church as lackeys and servants of the male hierarchy. I personally have know very worthy women who with serveral degrees in theology and Canon Law were not taken seriously enough to be worthy of service, never mind ordination to priesthood or even deacons. I am sure that in the early chuch women were better understood and valued. Bravo to Roy Bourgeois. I am appalled at his excommunication and his being stripped of all his valued years of committment, dismissed, and laicized by the Vatican. If not the Dark Ages, it seems we are still in the Middle Ages when the church was in a position of power and control over the population and not a supportive mechanism which we were lead to expect from Vatican !! Council in 1960s when it was made common knowledge that the “people are the church”…Are women not people too?


  9. When are women going to walk out of that church and just leave it to the boys? Just leave women.
    It feeds on our energy, on our labor, and that would be the very best way to take all its power away.
    Just leave. There are plenty of churches out there where women are welcome, where women are ordained as priests and ministers. I just don’t get it about women sometimes. No male minority person would sit in a pew in a church that deemed him inferior to whites, but women will just sit in those pews and take it.

    Amazing how few Catholic priests ever speak up, but technically speaking, he did go against the policies of the women hating church, and it acts quickly. They are trying to keep the priests and nuns in line.


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