It’s between semesters so am back in Las Cruces, New Mexico, but just for two weeks. Due to circumstances out of my control, I’m not able to spend my usual month—mid-December to mid-January—here in the high desert. When I am here, though, I usually visit the Unitarian Universalist Church (UUC) of Las Cruces and so drove over there last Sunday to attend the 10:30 a.m. service. Some of the faces were familiar. There were many folks I did not recognize. The place was packed—standing-room only.
One of the familiar faces belonged to Tom Packard, a retired pediatrician, from New Hampshire. I remember Tom from a couple of years ago when he stood up during the “Joys and Sorrows” portion of the service to adamantly deny “charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault” that had been brought against him by several young girls. During “Joys and Sorrows,” people are free to tell their own stories in a supportive environment. I remember last year as well when Tom reported to the congregation regarding his upcoming trial—all the while claiming his innocence.Continue reading “All Are Welcome – Including Tom by Esther Nelson”
It is unnerving to think that excommunication is still a real threat in the 21st century. Within both the Catholic and Mormon Churches members continue to be bullied into submission with such threats. Today, speaking out against gender injustice seems to be a sure way for one to end up expelled from her or his community. Kate Kelly, a human rights attorney and Mormon feminist, has become the most recent in a long line to be rebuked for speaking out about gender discrimination and is waiting to learn her fate following a trial by LDS Church leaders. Continue reading “Supporting Gender Equality in the Church Results in Excommunication by Gina Messina-Dysert”
“The Lord loves everyone and died for everyone, and He wants all to be saved…the best lesson that can be learned from everything that has happened is that one finds happiness, joy and satisfaction in obedience to the Church.” – Bishop Bruskewitz
One of the most misunderstood concepts in the Catholic Church is excommunication. Many believe that excommunication is a complete termination or separation from the Catholic Church. To say this another way, if excommunicated, you are no longer Catholic or part (a member) of the Catholic Church. None of these statements are true. By baptism, you are a member of the Catholic Church and no one can take that away.
Much of the misunderstanding stems from the way excommunication was used in the Middle Ages; a means of coercion to control kings and other high ranking officials. Obedience to the Church meant that you will spend eternal life in heaven. Disobedience to the Church meant a complete separation from the Church; a ban against receiving Eucharist, a banishment of your soul to the eternal flames of hell. Excommunication was the highest form of punishment and the most meaningful (and effective) tools of control. When a person was excommunicated, there was even a public ceremony – a bell tolled for the excommunicant, as a bell that would chime for the dead, the Gospels were closed, and a (baptismal) candle would be extinguished. This ceremony signified eternal darkness and death. Continue reading “The Impact of Excommunication in the 21st Century (Part I) – Spiritual Redemption or Hegemonic Power by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
“The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church.” – Fr. Roy Bourgeois
While many have said it should be no surprise that Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, I was and am utterly astounded, not to mention deeply saddened.
I have been well aware (and an admirer) of Fr. Roy’s work for sometime; but came to know him personally about one year ago. While I believed my expectations were unrealistic, Fr. Roy not only lived up to, but surpassed the superhero image I had created in my mind. He is an incredibly humble and generous man whose utmost concern is honoring the dignity of every human being. On a personal level Fr. Roy is a friend and mentor; on a social and communal level, I respect his activism, courage, and refusal to comply with demands that violate human rights. In the face of continual threats Fr. Roy stood strong and now pays the ultimate price for following his conscience. Excommunication means that he has lost his position and his home; his livelihood, status, and vocation have been taken away. Fr. Roy is forced into laity and the job market at an age where he should be focused on retiring. Continue reading “I Stand with Fr. Roy Bourgeois by Gina Messina-Dysert”
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith
Canonically Dismisses Roy Bourgeois
The Gospel of “Jesus’ Wife” is certainly at the center of a battle that was last seen when questions of authenticity were raised about the James (Jesus’ brother) ossuary. In a New York Times article, September 30th, Judith Levitt states that this document adds weight to theological and historical flaws surrounding the issue of the ordination of women. The Vatican believes that their theology is still sound, calling the document a forgery.
Frankly we do not need this document to validate the existence of female deacons and disciples – we have the biblical text and writings of the early church to validate this position.
Nor do we need this document to show that the standing from the Vatican’s point of view of ordaining women is theologically and historically flawed.
“In 1976, experts of the Pontifical Biblical Commission determined that there were no scriptural reasons preventing women’s ordination. The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith overturned the commission’s judgment and instead wrote its own statement (Inter Insigniores, 1976) stating that women do not image Jesus who was a man; and therefore only male priests can adequately represent Christ.” – Women’s Ordination Conference