Joliet Priest Supports Peer Who Is In Trouble For Ordaining Woman

CHICAGO (CBS) – Pope John Paul II banned all discussion of the topic of women priests, but it’s still being talked about in the Catholic Church.

Now, as CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, the most controversial proponent of ordaining women is finding support from 200 of his fellow priests, including one from Joliet.

Known as a longtime anti-war activist, Father Roy Bourgeois has turned to leading a one-man campaign for women priests.

“I cannot and will not recant my support, my belief, that God is calling women to the priesthood,” he has said.

But Bourgeois went further, taking part in a ceremony ordaining a woman.

And now he faces removal as a priest.

“To crucify him on this one act, to me, is sad,” says Father Raymond Lescher of Sacred Heart Parish in Joliet.

Lescher is one of 200 priests nationwide who have signed a petition organized by the liberal catholic group Call to Action supporting Bourgeois’ right to speak from his conscience.

“Each individual catholic has the right to follow his or her own informed conscience,” Lescher says.

It’s a right, he says, confirmed by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. But Pope John Paul II banned all discussion of women priests within the church.

Like Father Bourgeois, Father Lescher believes the priesthood shouldn’t be limited to men.

“It’s a matter of justice, I think, full equality,” he says.

Bourgeois’ status as a priest now lies in the hands of the Vatican.

Pope John Paul’s edict hasn’t ended discussion about women priests. Last month, a Portuguese cardinal said, theologically, there’s no fundamental obstacle to women priests. He added it will only happen if God wills it, and not in our lifetime.

  • Bob Heineman

    Right on — nicely said Fr Ray. I’m proud of you and the 200 other priests in good standing who refuse to be intimidated by bully bishops. Reminds me why I am glad to remain a catholic in a Church that can be open, just and inclusive.

    • dan

      This is not about tolerance or hate, but maintaining the true meaning of the priesthood. The apostles were all men, and since the beginning of the Church the priesthood has been reserved for men only because for whatever reason, Jesus only selected men to be apostles. And at the last supper, when Jesus instituted the priesthood, the only people there with him were men. The Church has always stated that women have a very important role in the church, just not as priests. And, this is not going to change. This is a case where history and tradition will win out over new age modern manufactured ideas that the church discriminates again women. Simply not true, the church merely follows the roles for gender that have been in place since Jesus called his apostles to follow him.

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