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MARYKNOLL-BOURGEOIS (UPDATED) Aug-14-2008 (580 words) With photo. xxxn

Priest to meet Maryknoll leaders over role in Womenpriests' ceremony

By Dennis Sadowski
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois will meet Aug. 18 with the three members of his order's General Council to discuss his participation in a recent ceremony sponsored by Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

The Aug. 9 ceremony involved what Roman Catholic Womenpriests considers the ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska to the priesthood.

The organization, which is not recognized by the church, has sponsored numerous ceremonies since 2002 involving reported ordinations of women deacons, priests and bishops. These ceremonies have led to the excommunications of all involved because women cannot be ordained Catholic priests.

Father Bourgeois, an internationally known peace and justice advocate, confirmed he will meet with Maryknoll's general superior, Father John Sivalon, and the two other members of the order's council.

The priest told Catholic News Service from his Columbus, Ga., home Aug. 14 that his participation in the ceremony at a Unitarian Universalist church in Lexington, Ky., followed a period of reflection after he received an invitation from Sevre-Duszynska, a longtime friend.

"In conscience I felt I had to be there," he said.

"I see (my participation) connected in a real way in my work for justice in Latin America, speaking out against the war in Iraq and connected to the injustice in my church here at home," added Father Bourgeois, who is best known for his 19-year effort to close a U.S. Army school at Fort Benning, Ga., that trains soldiers from throughout Latin America.

"Who are we as men to say to Janice and these other women that we are called but not you?" asked the priest. "This is a big issue for me. I feel we are tampering with the sacred, that we are in a way overwriting God's call. Who are we to say that our call as men is valid, your call as women is not valid?

"I've come to the realization that women could be ordained in our Catholic Church," he said.

He acknowledged that he has placed his 36-year ministry as a priest in jeopardy by participating in the ceremony. At the same time, he expressed hope that the council will continue to support him once his views are discussed.

"I don't want to leave (the order)," he said. "But I do believe in this issue enough that I cannot be silent."

Father Bourgeois, 69, said that during the event he concelebrated the liturgy and delivered the homily. He also said he laid hands on Sevre-Duszynska, 58, during what traditionally would be the rite of ordination.

Betsey Guest, community outreach coordinator for the Maryknoll order, which has its headquarters in Maryknoll, N.Y., said the members of the order's General Council learned of Father Bourgeois' participation in the ceremony through media reports.

"They were not consulted prior to his participation, nor would they have condoned it," she said.

Reports that Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York intervened in asking the order to meet with Father Bourgeois were erroneous, she said.

"It was the General Council that has asked him to come back as one of their brother priests to understand from him the facts behind his thinking," Guest said.

Meanwhile, Sevre-Duszynska said she and other members of Roman Catholic Womenpriests have been seeking statements of support for her Maryknoll friend from across the country.

"This is a crucial issue for the church," she said. "This is an issue that could lead the church forward."


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