The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has dismissed and canonically stripped Fr. Roy Bourgeois (a Maryknoll priest for 40 years) of his status as a Catholic priest, because of his public support for the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church.

CNWE, a Canadian grassroots organization for women’s equality in both the church and the world, decries the Vatican’s decision based on three criteria:
i) the ‘primacy of place’ that following one’s informed conscience has in Catholic teaching,
ii) Fr. Roy’s work for justice and peace as a Maryknoll priest
iii) the hypocrisy inherent in the Vatican’s dismissal of Fr. Roy, when Catholic bishops who have covered up clergy sexual abuse remain in ‘good standing’ with the Vatican.

From years of work for justice and from conversations with women who felt called to serve the church in priesthood Fr. Roy Bourgeois determined that “when there is an injustice, silence is the voice of complicity.” Fr. Roy began to speak about his support for women’s ordination in the Catholic Church and attended the ordination of Roman Catholic WomenPriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska in August 2008. The Vatican responded by asking Fr. Roy to recant his support for women’s ordination or face excommunication. When Fr. Roy responded that it would go against his conscience to recant, he was dismissed and laicized (meaning that in the eyes of the hierarchy he is no longer a priest). In July 2010, the Vatican reinforced the prohibition against women’s ordination by labeling it a “grave crime” in the Catholic Church.

As a Maryknoll priest, Fr. Roy served the poor in Bolivia and El Salvador in the 1970’s. Since then, he has been instrumental in mobilizing a movement against the US School of the Americas that served to bolster dictatorships in Latin America through the use of military torture for political dissidents. Fr. Roy’s Christian zeal for justice has driven him to go where others fear to tread.

The greatest hypocrisy of this harsh ruling against Fr. Roy, is that, although the Vatican document also names clergy sexual abuse a “grave crime”, numerous Catholic bishops who covered up these crimes remain as Bishops in ‘good standing’ in the Church.

CNWE stands in solidarity with Fr. Roy as his conscience has led him to prophetically witness to the fundamental equality of all baptized women and men in the Catholic church.

For over thirty years members of the Catholic Network for Women’s Equality have shared a faithful commitment to social justice for all women. We celebrate the fact that we are part of a long history of women’s contributions to the Christian faith. Our movement embraces a broad range of Catholic women and men across Canada for whom an inclusive church that is accountable to all of its members is important. Our work for women’s equality in church and world is internationally respected and part of a network of pro-change Catholic movements around the globe. For further information, see or visit us on Facebook at “Catholic Network for Women’s Equality – Canada”.

November 28, 2012

Last Chance to Sign the Petition regarding the New Roman Missal!

Over the past year, members of the Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (CNWE) have experienced and studied the New Roman Missal and its process of development. We are dissatisfied with the New Missal because of its inherent pre-Vatican II theology (overemphasizing human sinfulness and unworthiness before a monarchical God rather than God’s unconditional love for us as a “pilgrim” people made in God’s image), its awkward translation from Latin into English and its rejection of the use of inclusive language. We have also learned that the process of development of the Missal was overridden by a small committee of the Vatican that made 10 000 changes to a widely accepted 1998 draft Missal produced by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

We hope that you will join us in expressing our dissatisfaction with the New Roman Missal by signing our petition at www. . The petition will be delivered in person to Archbishop Prendergast of Ottawa on December 5, 2012.  Four CNWE members will meet with Archbishop Prendergast to express CNWE’s concerns with the New Roman Missal and to offer him an opportunity to respond. The petition will also be copied to all the bishops of Canada after the meeting.

This week is your last chance to sign CNWE’s petition!
We invite you to share this petition with family and friends.
The petition will close on December 3, 2012. Sign on with the orange button to your right on the screen!

(Also please be sure to reply to the one email that asks you to confirm your signature by clicking on the link provided in the email.)

CNWE is “Reaching Out! in 2012-2013!

Reaching Out is the name we have given to the project affirmed by CNWE’s
2012 AGM.  The project envisions visits/conversations taking place in Spring 2013 in Canadian locations where our membership is sparse or non-existent.  To prepare for
this outreach a team of five CNWE members has begun to meet through conference calls to lay out the infrastructure that will allow the visits to take place, i.e. locations, help on the ground, financing . . . These are challenging times.  Needs are greater than ever.  How are we as CNWE members called to be of service in these times?
After 30 years of supporting the giftedness of women and gathering in circles of
prayer, learning, and action, our call may well be to reach out and offer the same possibilities to women who may not know what is available to them.  Holding visits where we have few members, listening to concerns, and offering what we have to offer is the goal of CNWE Reaching Out. A strengthened voice for change is worth reaching for.
Making this work from coast to coast to coast will require the minds and hearts and hands of us all.  Ours are the hands that reach out to pray, to bless, to invite, to initiate, to support, to hold.  How would you and your local group like to participate?  Here are a few suggestions:
*  contact a member/members of the Reaching Out team, hold a conversation, offer
*  if you are a member of a local CNWE group, explore ideas for ways for your group to participate,
*  give a gift subscription of The Seed Keepers to someone you know who lives in an
area of sparse CNWE membership,
*  if you have daughters or granddaughters, invite them to a conversation, hear their
issues, share yours.

Reaching Out
For the lives of women,
For a church that is just and accountable,
For the earth, its health and future.

Archaeologist Dr. Dorothy Irvin at CNWE Sault Ste Marie Gathering…

On October 13, 2012, CNWE members gathering in Sault Ste. Marie, ON enjoyed an afternoon discovering, through archaeological finds, the role of women in the early Christian church.  Dr. Dorothy Irvin, Ph.D, delighted a group of 30, including some from Elliot Lake, ON with her extensive knowledge, humour and scholarly presentation.  She shared several of her interesting experiences.  Through a slide presentation, she enlightened many with her factual and visual evidence of women’s faith  and lived experience as Deacons, Priests and Bishops in the early Christian church.

Dorothy holds a Doctorate in Catholic theology, with specialization in the Bible, ancient near eastern studies, and archaeology.  She is also a published author, and a lecturer.  Dorothy  had been an active field archaeologist for 18 years on the staff of an ongoing excavation in the country of Jordan.   All this, and she is a mother and grandmother! We were honored and thrilled to have her here in Sault Ste. Marie.


CNWE goes to Call to Action!

As in previous years, a contingent of CNWE members attended the Call to Action Conference “Justice Rising” in Louisville, Kentucky November 8-11, 2012.

We heard from civil rights activist Dianne Nash and her concept of “agapic energy” (non-violent resistance and work for change. Nash spoke of her experience in 1960 of staging sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in Nashville that led to equal rights for African Americans. Matthew Fox challenged us on Saturday to see how the Holy Spirit, in these dark times, is calling elders and young alike to connect with one another and to find creative ways of going forward – with fire in our bellies! On Saturday evening Imam Mohamed Abdul-Azeez addressed Call to Action and urged us to challenge our negative sterotypes about Islam and rather to see, especially in the ‘Arab Spring’ the common ground of a desire for democracy and freedom in the Middle East. And on Sunday, Patricia Fresen in her address “Less Pope, More Jesus” pointed to the growing desire for reform in the church and an end to clericalism, hierarchical authoritarianism, restorationism and misogyny. There were many other enlightening workshops and as always, the conversations in between are rich with emails exchanged and encouragement shared. The closing Eucharist among a discipleship of equals was wonder-full!!