Women religious petition Vatican for Bourgeois


Some 113 Catholic women religious have signed a letter addressed to the Vatican’s doctrinal czar pleading the case of Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who has been threatened with excommunication for his support of women’s ordination.

The letter, organized by the Detroit-based National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), is dated Dec. 12 and addressed to Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The nuns' letter says the Vatican's action "has diminished our Church."

They believe that "excommunications depend not on edicts or laws, but on compliance" by the faithful. If the faithful do not exclude or shun someone from the community, they are not excommunicated. The letter asserts that Bourgeois is not outside the community because they "embrace him wholeheartedly."

"In the first century, Christians resolved their disagreements about following traditions such as circumcision and kosher dietary laws by dialogue and discussion," said Sister Beth Rindler, speaking for NCAN. "We need to follow their example by promoting public discussion about the ordination of women," the Franciscan Sister said.

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"We hope the excommunication is not issued," said Dominican Sister Donna Quinn, one of the coordinators of NCAN. "The medieval punishment of excommunication serves only to embarrass our Church in the eyes of the world and fuels further anger and resentment among the U.S. faithful."


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    "Many of the signers have served the Church for more than 40 or 50 years. Many are prominent leaders in their fields," said Loretto Sister Jeannine Gramick, another NCAN coordinator. She pointed to Mercy Sister Theresa Kane, who made worldwide headlines when she asked Pope John Paul II to open all ministries to women on the occasion of his first visit to the U.S in 1979, and Dominican Sister Carol Coston, who founded Network, a Catholic social justice lobby. She also noted the signatures of Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, a prolific writer in the field of spirituality, Notre Dame Sister Ivone Gebara, a noted Brazilian feminist theologian, and Loretto Sister Maureen Fiedler, host of the public radio show Interfaith Voices.

    The nuns' statement said they "join Fr. Roy Bourgeois and the majority of U.S. Catholics, who believe that women are called to priestly ordination in the Catholic Church." They "look forward to the day when Catholic women, following in the footsteps of Mary Magdalene, who announced the Resurrection to the male Apostles, will minister as full equals in our church."

    The Women’s Ordination Conference, a Washington-based group, is circulating a petition with a similar message. It has more than 200 signatures.

    Those signing the NCAN letter include the following:

    Jean Ackerman, OP

    Louise Akers, SC

    Alice Baker, IHM

    Barbara Battista, SP

    Barbara Beesley, IHM

    Marlene Bertke, OSB

    Ruth Bockenstette, SC

    Mary A. Bodde, SC

    Mary E. Boesen, SL

    Mary Ellen Brody, RSM

    Julie Brown, RSM

    Mary Peter Bruce, SL

    Jeri Cashman, OP

    Joan Chicoine, IHM

    Joan Chittister, OSB

    Benita Coffey, OSB

    Carol Coston, OP

    Mary Ann Coyle, SL

    Mary Ann Cunningham, SL

    Beth Davies, CND

    Marie Cyril Delisi, IHM

    Kathleen Desautels, SP

    Jo Ann Dold, OP

    Maria S. Dowhaniuk, SFCC

    Suzanne Dunn, SFCC

    Gwen Farry, BVM

    Maureen Fenlon, OP

    Sheila Ferraz, SC

    Maureen Fiedler, SL

    Mary Kay Finneran, SC

    Arlene Flaherty, OP

    Victoria Marie Forde, SC

    Susan Fortier, OSB

    Ivone Gebara, CND

    Rita Clare Gerardot, SP

    Marian Gibbons, OP

    Joan Glisky, IHM

    Paula Gonzalez, SC

    Jeannine Gramick, SL

    Joan Groff, SC

    Katrinka Gunn, SC

    Patricia A. Haire, CSJ

    Ann Halloran, OP

    Doris Hamerl, CSC

    Mary Harvey, RSM

    Eileen Haugh, OSF

    Joan Henehan, CSJ

    Grace A. Hogan, OP

    Margaret Hughes, IHM

    Ruth Hunt, SC

    Marion Irvine, OP

    Florence Izzo, SC

    Therese Jilk, OSF

    Deidre G. Jordy, SP

    Elizabeth Joyce, SP

    Theresa Kane, RSM

    Connie Kelly, SC

    Esther Kennedy, OP

    Betty Kenny, OSF

    Pamela S. Kobasic, IHM

    Kathy Komarek, OP

    Anna Koop, SL

    Linda Kors, CSC

    Janet Kramer, SOSF

    Marie LaBollita, SC

    Cita Lamb, SND

    Jean Ann Ledwell, OSU

    Janet Lemon, IHM

    Rose Annette Liddell, SL

    Denise Lonergan, SFCC

    Lystra Long, OP

    Marian McAvoy, SL

    Anne McCarthy, OSB

    Kathleen McClelland, RSM

    Bridget Mary Meehan, SFCC

    Virginia Miller, SP

    Mary M. Miner, RSM

    Kate Moriarty, RSM

    Maureen Murray, RSHM

    Patricia Nagle, IHM

    Betty Olley, OP

    Michele Olley, OP

    Madonna Oswald, IHM

    Patricia Otillio, RSM

    Elizabeth Pardo, IHM

    Claudine Picard, RSM

    Katharine Pinto, SC

    Helen Marie Plourde, SSND

    Marie-Anne Quenneville, OSU

    Meg Quinlan, RSM

    Donna Quinn, OP

    Susan Rakoczy IHM

    Diane Rapozo, BVM

    Marie Regine Redig, SSND

    Roberta Richmond, IHM

    Carol L. Ries, SNJM

    Marie Romejko, SND

    Dolores Russo, SCH

    Christine Seghetti, RSM

    Gerry Sellman, SCMM

    Ann Shaw, CSC

    Maureen Sinnott, OSF

    Julie Slowik, IHM

    Rita Specht, RSM

    Florence Speth, SC

    Mary Sugrue, SC

    Lenore Sullivan, IBVM

    Maureen Tobin, OSB

    Susan Vickers, RSM

    Jacquie Wetherholt, CSJ

    Rebecca White, OSU

    Alice Zachmann, SSND

    Joanne Marie Zavadsky, SSND

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