Roy Bourgeois (third from left), a censured Maryknoll priest, joined a
 demonstrate in support of women's ordination in Rome near the 
Vatican in October 2011. Some in this group were detained briefly by 
Italian police outside St. Peter's Square during the demonstration. 
(CNS/Paul Haring)

As a Catholic priest, I did the unspeakable. I called for
the ordination of women in the Church. The Vatican was swift in 
its response. 
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith informed me that 
I was “causing grave scandal” in the Church and that I had 30 
days to
 recant my public support for the ordination of women
or I would be expelled from the priesthood.

I told the Vatican that this was not possible. Believing that women and 

men are created of equal worth and dignity and that both are 
called by an all-loving God to serve as priests, my conscience 
would not allow me to recant. 
In my response, I felt it was also important to make clear that 
when Catholics hear the word “scandal,” they think about the 
thousands of children who have been raped and abused by 
Catholic priests — 
not the ordination of women.

In 2010, the Vatican called the ordination of women as priests a crime

 comparable to that of the sexual abuse of children. Judging from its 
actions, however, it would appear that the Vatican views 
women’s ordination as a crime substantially more serious 
than child abuse. Among the thousands of priests who raped and 
sexually abused children, the vast majority
were not expelled from the priesthood or excommunicated. 
very woman, however, who has been ordained to the Catholic 
priesthood has been excommunicated by the Vatican.

And in 2012, after serving as a Catholic priest with the Maryknoll 

Missionary Order for 40 years, I was expelled from the priesthood 
for refusing to recant my public support for the ordination of women.

Today, once again, scandal is rocking the Catholic Church. This time, 

it’s six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. According to a grand jury 
report, beginning in the 1950s, more than 300 “predator priests” 
sexually abused.

The 1,400-page report, written by 23 grand jurors over the course of 

two years stated that “Priests were raping little boys and girls, 
and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did 
nothing; they hid it all. For decades.” Among the horrific crimes 
committed by 
Catholic priests:

In Erie, a 7-year-old boy was sexually abused by a priest who told him

 he should go to confession and confess his “sins” to that same priest.

In the Pittsburgh diocese, “a ring of predatory priests shared 

information regarding victims, as well as exchanging the victims 
amongst themselves. The ring manufactured child pornography 
and used whips, violence and sadism in raping the victims.” 

One priest abused five sisters in the same family, including one girl 

beginning when she was 18 months old.

Another priest was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a

young girl and arranging for her to have an abortion.
A priest raped a 7-year-old girl in her hospital room after a
tonsillectomy. What was his punishment? The Vatican’s Congregation 
for the Doctrine of the Faith decided, after reviewing his crime, 
that he should remain a priest and “live a life of prayer and penance.”

The Pennsylvania grand jury report concluded that the Catholic 

hierarchy “protected the institution at all cost and 
maintained strategies to avoid scandal.” 
Priests who got into trouble in one diocese were 
shuffled to another diocese where more children were abused. 
The FBI determined that Church officials followed a “playbook for 
concealing the truth,” minimizing the abuse by using words
 like “inappropriate contact” or “boundary issues” instead of 

I am convinced that if the Catholic Church had women priests, 

the Church would not be in the crisis it is in today. 
I am equally confident that if the Catholic Church does not
dismantle its corrupt all-male priesthood and welcome 
women as equals, it will continue to drift into irrelevance.

[Roy Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient, is

 the founder of the School of the Americas Watch Movement. 
is story is the subject of the book, Disturbing the Peace: The Story 
of Father Roy Bourgeois and the Movement to Close the School of
the Americas.]