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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dueling letters

Apparently even among Maryknollers, letters are flying fast and furious between members and our general council. The following was forwarded to me from Fr. Ken Thesing, former superior general, and is posted here with his permission. There are other letters in support of the action taken against Roy and in support of the Holy See which, if I can obtain permission, will also be reposted here.


Maryknoll General Council
PO Box 303
Maryknoll, NY 10545-0303                                       August 9, 2011
Dear Ed, Jose, Ed and Paul,
Greetings to you from Nairobi. I hope you are all doing well.
I opened up my computer a few minutes ago this morning and saw an article stating that you Ed and the Council have sent a second warning letter to Roy Bourgeois that he faces dismissal unless he recants publicly his position on the matter of women priests.
I do not favor expelling Roy from the Society; he has been excommunicated by the Church, his priestly faculties are suspended. What is gained by his expulsion from Maryknoll?
The Gospel from St Matthew chapter 18 that we read at mass this morning has Jesus saying: “Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not…go in search for that one?” Now as a farmer I always react to this story and answer that of course the first thing I will do is round up the 99 and put them in a safe place; then I will go to look for the stray. I have to be concerned for the 99. And as a farmer I remember the saying: “Good fences make good neighbors.” So the first thing I do is look for the breach in the fence, the break. Then I know I am on the right path to look for and find the stray.
We are celebrating our 100 years of Maryknoll Society…unbroken. I think the meaning of that 100 in the Gospel is completeness. It is a serious matter when that completeness is broken. If Maryknoll had had a serious difference and separated one year…even if we came back together we would not be celebrating this 100 years, the 100 years would not be complete. I think Jesus is saying the People of God, God’s flock belong together. So he came to find the lost, the marginalized one. He looked for and fixed, healed and mended the break in the fence that caused humanity’s being separated and incomplete by giving us a way to reform our attitudes and lives so that we can stay complete.
Is Roy a stray, lost a bit and separated from us? Yes he is…and he has walked away and bears responsibility for his actions. But he found the break in the fence, he did not create it, a weak spot in our Church and he went through it. So the Church too has some responsibility; Church leadership as well as Church followers have to keep the fence in repair: “Good fences make good neighbors.” Without working on the break, repairing the weak spot, Roy will stay out there…a stray. The neighbors will be upset. Our Society will be less complete if Roy is expelled, some members will be upset and yes some will feel better. Our Church too will be incomplete in the same way. We have seen this double reaction already after the first letter.
We have just had a wrenching example of our country’s politicians not dealing with a ‘break’ in our economic, our fiscal fence. They ended up just using power, whatever each had. And they ‘kicked the can down the road’ as commentators said. Because they did not deal with the problem, the break in the fence, we can all be sure the problem will return. So it will be with our Church and the issue of dealing justly and equitably with women. I do not pretend to know exactly where the ‘break’ in the fence is on this issue, nor do I pretend to know exactly how to fix it, but I do know that if the farmer (Church leadership) does not first go out and look for the break, the weak spot in the fence we will not achieve our goal of being complete…of having all 100…of having unity in the People of God that I think Jesus challenges us to form.
Again you all do remain in my payers.
Ken Thesing
PO Box 43058
00100 Nairobi, Kenya

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