Cleaning the Catholic House of Dissent

Last week, Revealer contributor Jo Piazza sent us a press release that reminds us how the RCC conducts its discipline.  Maryknoll Superior General, Edward M. Dougherty, has focused the church’s disapproval on Father Roy Bourgeois for his “public support of women’s ordination.”  Bourgeois was given 15 days to recant that support, or face dismissal from his order and/or laicization.

The release, prepared by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, states:

Roman Catholic Womenpriests urge all people of good will to stand behind Father Roy Bourgeois, a true champion of peace and justice, who refused to be cowed by men who support an unjust law that knowingly and persistently discriminates against half of the Body of Christ. Father Roy has acted as a true Imago Dei by speaking truth to power, regardless of the consequences. He has seen the face of
Jesus in his sisters.
Bourgeis’ excommunication was automatic, or “latae senteniae,” in 2008 when he first voiced support for women’s ordination.
According to Mary E. Hunt at Religion Dispatches, the threats to Father Bourgeois are one part of a broader effort to make the church “lean and mean” and absolutely compliant with the Pope, to clear out less conservative members.  Priests who ally themselves with women religious are one target; theologians are another. Hunt points to the recent condemnation by the U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on Doctrine of the 2007 book by Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson, Fordham Distinguished Professor of Theology, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God.  The bishops have suggested that Johnson should have asked for an imprimatur, approval of the book before publishing.  (BeliefNet describes Johnson as a “prominent feminist theologian,” whatever that means.)  Hunt writes:

The whole point of this exercise in my view is to send a message to the larger academic community that only those who toe the doctrinal line, absolutely and without any wiggle room, are theologically acceptable. Their numbers are small. Dr. Johnson will not be silenced or prohibited from teaching. But the graduate students who come after her, and some of her colleagues teaching in Catholic institutions, will think twice about what they write or say for fear of similar repercussions. A shrinking church can apparently do with fewer, more doctrinally conservative theologians. God help it.

Read more on the threat of excommunication against Father Roy Bourgeois here, and here.  Read more on condemnation of Elizabeth Johnson’s book here and here.

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