Conscience, Power, and Obedience: A Conversation Among Catholics

Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association

A quick round-up of “some things Catholic.” First, the American Catholic Council‘s Janet Hauter has a short reflection (see below) on the American bishops and power that illustrates the deep theological divide at the foundation of of post-Vatican II Catholicism and the current issue between the US Catholic bishops and the Obama administration. Hauter highlights David DeCrosse’s excellent NCR article on the “Bishops’ Conscience Model.”

Next, the newly formed Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (self-described “Vatican II priests“) will have its inaugural convention in June. This is part of a world-wide movement of priests forming their own associations, not under control of the bishops’ conference, in order to discuss issues happening within their churches and speak with a unique voice. Continue reading “Conscience, Power, and Obedience: A Conversation Among Catholics”

Fr. Bourgeois Invites Theologians to Scrutinize His Situation

Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois
In yesterday’s post I mentioned Christian clergy whose prophetic stand put them at odds with orthodoxy. The creative tension is what leads to growth in the Holy Spirit.

Today I’m posting more in the saga of Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois who is slated to be dismissed from the priesthood and his religious community unless he recants his belief that women should be ordained in the Catholic church. His recent step to ask his order to engage “reputable theologians” to reconsider the issues stemming from his case is a way of keeping this story in the light of public scrutiny and not letting hierarchy drive it underground.

At a time when the International Criminal Court is being asked to investigate the Pope and other Vatican officials for concealing child-sex crimes throughout the world, the church needs leaders like Fr. Roy to show us the proper way to live prophetically the gospel.

I often say that “all teaching is simply learning in public.” Fr. Roy is continuing to teach by pushing for a public conversation that can respectfully allow us all to learn how to live more deeply into becoming the children of God.

Fr. Roy Bourgeois recently took another step in his fight to remain a member of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, when he asked his superiors to engage reputable theologians to reconsider issues stemming from his support for the ordination of women.

“In spite of the apparently clear orders of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the related norms of church law, the overall situation with Roy is anything but clear-cut and simple,” Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer representing Bourgeois, wrote in an Aug. 16 letter to Fr. Edward Dougherty, Maryknoll’s superior general. Doyle is most widely known for his advocacy on behalf of victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

Doyle contends that the church’s prohibition of female ordination is not infallible teaching and asks in his letter “that the assistance and input of reputable theologians be sought in order to look much more deeply” into two central issues: the church’s claim that the teaching is infallible and the right of a Catholic “to act and think according to the dictates of his conscience” even if the conclusions put one in conflict with the church’s highest authorities.

Doyle also argues that the punishment of excommunication and expulsion from the society is disproportionate. As a comparison, he notes that priests and bishops who sexually abused children and/or covered up the abuse have not been excommunicated. … Read more.