Women Religious Petition Vatican for Bourgeois


December 18, 2008

Some 113 Catholic women religious have signed a letter addressed to the Vaticanís doctrinal czar pleading the case of Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who has been threatened with excommunication for his support of womenís ordination.

The letter, organized by the Detroit-based National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), is dated Dec. 12 and addressed to Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Bishop Dana Reynolds lays hands on Janice Sevre-Duszynska during Sevre-Duszynska's ordination Aug. 9. Bourgeois is in the background.

The nuns' letter says the Vatican's action "has diminished our Church."

They believe that "excommunications depend not on edicts or laws, but on compliance" by the faithful. If the faithful do not exclude or shun someone from the community, they are not excommunicated. The letter asserts that Bourgeois is not outside the community because they "embrace him wholeheartedly."

"In the first century, Christians resolved their disagreements about following traditions such as circumcision and kosher dietary laws by dialogue and discussion," said Sister Beth Rindler, speaking for NCAN. "We need to follow their example by promoting public discussion about the ordination of women," the Franciscan Sister said.

"We hope the excommunication is not issued," said Dominican Sister Donna Quinn, one of the coordinators of NCAN. "The medieval punishment of excommunication serves only to embarrass our Church in the eyes of the world and fuels further anger and resentment among the U.S. faithful."


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