Well I guess it was too much to hope for that Fr. Bourgeois would repent of his support of women’s ordination. Though really it was something to pray and hope for.
As you would expect it didn’t take him long to bring up the priestly abuse scandal as if this justifies his support of women’s ordination. Over 75 percent of teachers are women yet teacher sexual abuse is an epidemic. For example 2,570 teachers were punished for sexual misconduct from 2001 to 2005 alone, for actions that ranged from fondling to viewing child pornography to rape.
He advances arguments that are rather lame and shows he has no idea what the actual reasons for the Church’s teaching.
1. Implying that an all mail priesthood makes a statement that women are inferior is like saying men not being able to be mothers make them inferior. Hasn’t he ever read St. Paul and how the Body of Christ has different organs while still remaining part of the Body of Christ? Are men inferior to women because the only human person to be born without original sin and to remain sinless is Mary?
2. “How can we, as men, say: “Our call from God is authentic, but your call, as women, is not”? ” Simply because it was Jesus’ will. He asks “Who are we to reject God’s call of women to the priesthood?” I would ask who are we to say that God is calling women to the priesthood? Does Fr. Bourgeois have an authentic call detector. If so he would be useful to screen out seminarians.
3. He gets around to answering why Jesus didn’t select women as apostles. Fr. Bourgeois actually says “As we know, Jesus did not ordain anyone.” What!!! Did he receive his clerical collar in a box of Crackerjacks? It doesn’t take much thinking to point to the Last Supper and the establishment of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is an act of sacrifice and requires a priest. The instructions Jesus gave instituted the priesthood and the center of the priesthood the Eucharist. This understanding has always been present with the Church and to make such a casual statement such as “As we know” is to either show extreme ignorance or deception.
Council of Trent said: “If anyone says that by the words ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11: 24) Christ did not establish the apostles as priests or that He did not order (ordinasse) that they and other priests should offer His body and blood, let him be anathema”.
He goes on to talk about how St. Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the resurrection. So exactly how does that relate to the ministerial priesthood? He then writes “Mary Magdalene became known as “the apostle to the apostles.” A phrase that first appeared in the tenth century and not from early Christian writers as many have said. Hippolytus (170-236) did refer to Mary Magdalene as a female apostle, but not individually but as part of a whole group of women sent by Jesus. The word Apostle now refers to the men Jesus ordained, but the word itself generally means “commissioned by another” so would not automatically refer to priesthood. It is obvious Hippolytus uses it in strict sense with his writing of the details on the the martyrdom or death of the Twelve Apostles He uses it in a another sense in his list of seventy apostles which are all bishops. If Hippolytus thought “female apostles” were ordained it would be rather strange that of seventy apostles he lists no women.
4. He then pulls out the chestnut that “A 1976 report by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the Vatican’s top Scripture scholars, concluded that there is no valid case to be made against the ordination of women from the Scriptures.” Well that is not exactly correct. What the Pontifical Biblical Commision did say was:
“It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate,”
Plus it is a silly argument for a Catholic to take a Sola Scriptura approach and not mention Sacred Tradition and a no time from the early Church on was women’s ordination anything other than condemned.
Another argument of his is “Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian and other Christian churches, God’s call of women to the priesthood is affirmed and women are ordained. Why not in the Catholic church?” Well in those same churches we also have acceptance of contraception, abortion, homosexuality. Why not the Catholic Church? Because the Catholic Church is the one true Church protected from error and those other churches aren’t.
5. The final lame argument is “in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither male nor female. In Christ Jesus you are one.”.” And does it prove that women can be ordained? No, we are all one in Christ. We are all loved by him, graced by him, given everything we actually need from him. Is the fact that as a man that I am not a priest mean that I can not be one in Christ? What his argument would mean if taken seriously is we are not one unless everyone of us is ordained. His final argument is “Furthermore, the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on The Church in the Modern World states: “Every type of discrimination … based on sex. .. is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent.”” But the document goes on to say “rightful differences exist between men” and of course Pope John Paul II wrote in Ordination Sacerdotalis
“Furthermore, the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them. Rather, it is to be seen as the faithful observance of a plan to be ascribed to the wisdom of the Lord of the universe.”
Plus if Fr. Bourgeois is going to quote Vatican II how about Lumen Gentium and the fact that as a minimum the ordinary papal magisterium requires “Religious submission of intellect and will” and really this teaching requires the assent of faith being part of the ordinary and universal teaching of the Church.
Later, as you would expect, he brings up the primacy of conscience which is not in conformance with the Catechism and Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium says “That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God.(112) Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints,(113) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.” A well-formed conscience has a voice that tells us how to conform our will to God’s will. A conscience that rejects the magisterium is not a well-formed conscience.
Well at least Fr. Bourgeois did not say the reason only Jesus choose male Apostles was because of societal pressure. I do wish that for once that supporters of female ordination would actually address the arguments made by those faithful to the Church. Instead they talk as if bringing up equality should be enough to win the argument.
No doubt soon we will see the response by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers which has little choice but his expulsion. Though I must admit being surprised to see them actually remove somebody for heterodoxy since so many in the order are infected with dissent. Maybe their hand is forced in this case or even better obedience to the Church.