Say It Isn't So Maryknollers

The news from Heidi Schlumpf about Maryknoll's shutting off aid from School of the America's Watch looks like another sign of how far a fear-ridden church can twist priorities to get its way.

This deprives the major protest against America's training of repressive Latin American militia of a reported $17,000. It's not a huge figure in itself but signals a much more pervasive moral decay.

Like many other Americans, I've held the Maryknoll order in high regard for its commitment to justice and humanitarian missions. That makes it even tougher to be critical of it's priests and brothers for apparently caving to pressures from Rome.

The reason given for ending support for the Weach is that its leader, Ray Bourgeois, believes women should be ordained to the priesthood.

Bowing to a Vatican petrified by women is, therefore, given a higher moral priority than standing against sharpening the military skills of Latin Americans, some of whom have been linked in the past to war crimes against opponents of established regimes.

If anyone deserves moral deference, in my opinion, it is Ray Bourgeois. His dedication to justice causes, including his seemingly fruitless attempt to shut down the School of the Americas, exhibits a willingness to sacrifice life and limb for Christian values. My guess is that none of his superiors have shown anywhere near the same courage defending the sacredness of life in the face of threats and terrors. Bourgeois in an unpretentious way has earned his respect; he's gone to jail for his beliefs.

One of those beliefs appears to define him as an accessorty to the "crime" of ordaining women. So far as I know, his adocacy has caused no loss of life, in constrast to his belief that the School of the Americas' causes death of innocent people. Where is the noble "dignity of life" appeal when you need it?

Maybe there are extenuating circumstances that would make sense of this, but I haven't heard any. It looks as if the venerable Maryknoll men capitulated to higher ups and, perhaps even knowing better, left one of their exemplars out to dry.

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