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Is Fr. Bourgeois still a Maryknoll priest? Yes. For now.

December 12, 2008

It appears that Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been excommunicated for his role in the “ordination” of a woman, but until Bourgeois or CDF releases the decree, we won’t know for sure. Even if Bourgeois is excommunicated, however, he is not thereby either dismissed from the clerical state or expelled from the Maryknoll Society (1983 CIC 290 and 694-704, neither of which sets of norms lists excommunication as grounds for automatic dismissal or expulsion). This is how it should be.

If excommunication achieves its medicinal purpose and Bourgeois repents of his anti-ecclesial conduct, his reconciliation with the Church would be prompt (1983 CIC 1358). In contrast, having also to formally readmit a reconciled priest or religious offender to the clerical state and/or to an institute of consecrated life, would only slow down that fundamental process of reconciliation, impeding the effectiveness of the excommunication in the first place. So in a situation like this, canon law does not call for dismissal or expulsion immediately, though the restrictions on Bourgeois’ priestly and official society activities are probably severe (e.g., 1983 CIC 1331).

Make no mistake: if Bourgeois does not repent, additional consequences can flow from his contumacy (1983 CIC 1326 and 1393), including dismissal from the clerical state and expulsion from consecrated life. But there is time for that. Not much time, I have a hunch on this one, but some at least.

Till then, prayers for Bougeois’ reconciliation are in order.

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