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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Maryknoll votes on Bourgeois' dismissal from order

Maryknoll votes on Bourgeois' dismissal from order

Well, troops, the above article in the National Catholic Reporter (click the headline to read) certainly shattered the cyber and actual silence around Maryknoll these past few days.

U.S. Regional Superior Mike Duggan returned from an otherwise uplifting meeting with other religious superiors and Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany only to learn his (Mike's) name was quite prominently and erroneously linked to certain quotes in the NCR article.

Long story short, ignoring that the vote was supposedly a secret ballot and who exactly voted how and that Fr. José Arámburu and not Fr. Paul Masson is our vicar general and who said what to whom and when, the fact remains: Yes, a vote was taken last December 12 (The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, if you're into irony) on whether or not to dismiss Fr. Roy Bourgeois from Maryknoll and the result was two votes for dismissal and three abstentions.

How does canon law regard abstentions?  If they don't count at all, do two "yes" votes constitute an "absolute majority" of those present?

The upshot of this continued ambiguity is that the proverbial ball (or long knife, if you will) is now back in the Vatican's court, as only they have the final word.

But just for the record, as I have read all kinds of misinformation on the blogosphere:

1) Fr. Roy's excommunication has already occurred "in latae sententiae" (automatically, on performance of a forbidden act). In this case, it was his active participation in the attempted ordination of a woman to the Roman Catholic priesthood back in 2008. The two warning letters were sent to fulfill canonical mandates in order to drive home the seriousness of the action. There is no "formal declaration of excommunication."

2) Our constitutions notwithstanding, Maryknoll will not deny Fr. Roy his living allowance and health coverage. I heard this directly from our superior general himself. I blogged this and posted this on NCR's comments section after several notable people expressed shock and disappointment that Maryknoll would "cut Fr. Roy loose" after decades of dedicated service. The cynic in me would suggest that such an allegation only serves to garner sympathy and evoke outrage by casting the Society as the villain. Our constitutions state that a dismissed member has no claim on support for past services, they do not prevent the Society from acting in a compassionate way toward a former member.

3) If the dismissal is approved by Rome, and there is still some doubt given the inconclusive vote, the only thing that will actually change is the addition of the word "former" to Roy's title of Maryknoll Father.

4) The question of women's ordination will not go away or die.

(And I'll bet some of you wish I had maintained cyber silence even longer.)

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