I’m not really a person of faith. (If you follow my work on Teen Skepchick, you probably know this.) I was raised Catholic, but, like many before me, I outgrew it. I decided that equality and justice were more important to me than dogma. But I realize that, for some people, their faith is the most important thing to them. Which is why I love priests like Roy Bourgeois.
Father Bourgeois is no ordinary priest. He’s a staunch supporter of the ordination of women in the Catholic Church. He visited Wichita this week to discuss this stance. He said such controversial things like, “God created men and women of equal worth and dignity…There’s neither male or female. In Christ Jesus we are one.”
OH! THE HORROR!
The Vatican, of course, is having non of this. He has been dismissed from his religious order, and has been given 30 days by the Vatican “to recant.” But in an organization that sees ordaining women as a crime equal to child abuse, I guess that is hardly surprising.
Father Bourgeois has really walked the walk. He participated in ordaining several women as priests in Kentucky in 2008. I guess what sets him apart from the Vatican brass is that he doesn’t think women are inferior beings. That’s my kind of priest.
What I find so hilarious (and by hilarious, I mean infuriating) is the reasoning for only allowing men to be priests. It’s just because men were leaders in the Church from the beginning, including Jesus’ Apostles.
Let’s just think about this for a moment. What if we used that logic in other areas. Like business. Men dominated business for a long time. So women shouldn’t be allowed to be CEOs? Traditionally, women haven’t been allowed to be in positions of power. It’s like there are outside societal factors that kept women confined to the private sphere. It’s taken decades of fighting to achieve the sorta-equality we have now. We’ve proven that women have the capacity to do anything that men do, even though irrational prejudice still exists.
I am encouraged by the results of the KSN News poll connected to its coverage of Father Bourgeois Wichita visit. A slim majority supports equality in priest ordination. While this is still a controversial issue within the Church, the rank and file members tend to lean to the political left on social issues in the US. American Catholics are more accepting than the average American of gay sex, sex before marriage, and divorce. All of which are officially frowned upon by the Vatican.
Of course, female ordination is a little trickier. While the Church may use guilt to conform behavior, it doesn’t really have any control over who you have sex with and when. But, as Father Bourgeois has proved, there can be major consequences for people who support women. And the Vatican is really digging in its heals (see the crime of ordaining women).
Father Bourgeois will probably be expelled from the Catholic Church for respecting the validity and dignity of all people (while the Church protects priests who abuse children). That probably means he’s doing something right.
Image of St. Peter’s Basilica: Wikimedia Commons