Statement in Support of Roy Bourgeois

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December 2012

We, the staff of 8th Day Center for Justice support Fr. Roy Bourgeois’ decision to follow his conscience.  As a faith-based organization rooted in nonviolence and solidarity for over 38 years, we understand the role of discernment and conscience as sacred.  As a community committed to justice, we support the struggles of people everywhere to transform oppressive systems and challenge inequities.

For several years Roy has called for dialogue on gender equality within the Catholic Church and has publicly supported women’s call to priesthood.  In good conscience Roy was unable to reconcile his personal experience of discernment with theological arguments based on gender difference proposed by the institutional church.  On November 19, he received word that the Vatican had dismissed him from the priesthood for refusing to recant his support of women’s ordination.  

Roy’s canon lawyer, Fr. Thomas Doyle, O.P, emphasizes the right of a Catholic “to act and think according to the dictates of his or her conscience.” Similarly, the document The Church in the Modern World, Second Vatican Council states: “Deep within their consciences men and women discover a law which they have not laid upon themselves, but which they must obey.  Its voice, ever calling them to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, tells them inwardly at the right moment:  do this, shun that.  For they have in their hearts a law inscribed by God.  Their dignity lies in observing this law, and by it they will be judged.  Their conscience is their most secret core, and their sanctuary.”

For decades 8th Day Center has worked alongside Roy through the School of Americas Watch, the organization he founded to resist human rights abuses in Latin America.  This long-standing relationship, in addition to 8th Day’s belief in the primacy of conscience, compels us to support Roy.  

In the spirit of communion, we quote an excerpt from the Maryknoll Mission and Vision: "Everywhere we are touched by the triumph of the human spirit and enriched by encountering people’s faith experience.  We join with them announcing the healing, reconciling and liberating Jesus.”  We are profoundly inspired by Roy embodying the Maryknoll vision for more than 45 years.

We support the right of individuals to speak truth to power.  We stand by them when power is punitive rather than transformative.   Lastly, we lament the loss of dialogue and envision a world of communion rather than isolation.