Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP, in Rome for Conclave that elected Pope Francis
"Why shouldn't women be called to the Catholic priesthood?"
This is the question that Roy Bourgeois has been asking out loud since the RCWP ordination of his friend Janice Sevre-Duszynska, six years ago on August 8, 2008. It's the question that landed him in a boat-load of hot water with the Vatican ..
RCWP stands for Roman Catholic Women Priests: a grassroots global movement that includes about 200 women priests, bishops and deacons. The Vatican says their ordinations aren't valid and they have no authority to lead; Canon Law 1024 clearly states that only baptized males can be priests.
It's been almost two years since Bourgeois' defrocking by Pope Benedict -- he likens this period of rejection and grieving to the aftermath of a difficult divorce. Like others who suffer because of a broken relationship, he's gradually healing from his painful experience.
From left to right Erin Hanna, Women Ordination Conference, Donna Rougeux, ARCWP, Ree Hudson, RCWP, Roy Bourgeois, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP
In June 2014 a new RCWP parish sprang up in Toronto -- one of nine across Canada. This development, combined with the anniversary of the event that caused Bourgeois' life to spin out of control, make it an appropriate time to see how he's doing and hear his thoughts about the growing RCWP movement.
A: This injustice toward women and God had become so clear to me and I used to go to my friends and say, "I think we have a problem." They'd say, "Roy, it's not about equality, it's about roles. We're not prejudiced, we just have different roles." And I would say, "Are you sure it's not about power? Or sexism?" This all reminded me of my growing up in the South during segregation when we would claim that it wasn't racism at work, but of course it was. But back to my fellow priests...the core of the problem of them not supporting me is that they don't want to lose their power, privileges, and good standing. Simple as that. Fear.
Q: This week marks the anniversary of the ordination of your friend Janice. Tell us about it.
A: That event was a big breakthrough. I didn't just attend, I gave the homily. Five women priests were ordained. I knew there would be consequences. We gave thanks to God for calling Janice and to Janice for accepting her call, especially at a time when so many of our churches were closing because of a lack of vocations. I really remember the joy there. It was so joyful.
A: The church hierarchy is not going to give up its power, so change has to come from the bottom up, in part from courageous women like these RCWPs in Toronto. It will come from people in the pews who support the ordination of women. This movement cannot be stopped. There were many who tried to stop the suffragette movement, including leaders in the Catholic Church. But they couldn't. Same thing goes for the civil rights movement. These movements were of God. They were rooted in justice, love, and equality...."
Thanks Nancy for an excellent article about our movement. Bridget Mary Meehan, www.arcwp.org