School of the Americas Watch Founder Dissents from Catholic Teaching

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Fr. Roy Bourgeois excommunicated from Catholic Church
Father Bourgeois speaking at the 2007 School of the Americas Watch rally at Fort Benning.

On November 16, 2007, the American TFP published a paid advertisement in Columbus, Georgia’s Ledger-Inquirer, titled: To SOA Watch Protesters: Be Consistent! To the Military: Be Proud! The statement condemned leftist protesters that had gathered at the gates of Fort Benning that weekend to demonstrate against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), which replaced the US School of the Americas.

The annual protest is run by an organization called “School of the Americas Watch,” founded and run by Maryknoll priest, Father Roy Bourgeois. Although the group claims to be pacifist and dedicated to closing the army school, its true scope is much larger than that and many of its adherents are not pacifists at all.

The TFP statement highlighted the fact in the following way:

This is more than a protest; it is a gathering of the religious and cultural left who come to attack more than just the former School of the Americas.
Dissident Catholics, especially elderly priests and nuns, students and teachers of Catholic (mostly Jesuit) universities are the most impassioned demonstrators.1

That same year, two TFP journalists covered the event. They found in attendance representatives of almost every Catholic fringe group from homosexual activists, to liberation theologians, to pro-abortion “Catholics,” to proponents of the socialist-structured “Base Christian Communities.” They also found many women dressed as priests and proponents of women’s ordination. However, Father Burgeois was careful not to officially associate with the dissidents, although he welcomed them at his protest.

On August 9, he took one step further by attending the pseudo-ordination of a woman named Janice Sevre-Duszynska in Lexington, Kentucky. Father Bourgeois concelebrated a “Mass” and gave the sermon at the service, against the expressed will of the local ordinary, Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, who requested that Catholics have nothing to do with the ceremony. In a statement on the diocesan website, Bishop Gainer said:

What will take place on Saturday, August 9, 2008, has no connection to Roman Catholic Liturgy or Sacraments and cannot in any way be recognized as a valid reception of Sacred Orders. Simulation of a sacrament carries with it very serious penal sanctions in Church Law. Members of the Catholic Faithful should not support or participate in Saturday’s event.2

Father Bourgeois’ association with Janice began years ago when she started participating in School of the Americas Watch rallies. She was imprisoned for three months for trespassing on the Fort during one such protest.

After the pseudo-ordination, Father Bourgeois’ Maryknoll superiors summoned him. Although, he escaped the meeting with a mere “canonical warning” from his superiors, a Maryknoll press release claims that: “An investigation has been carried out as to the true facts of the August 9 event in Lexington, Ky. A report of that investigation will be sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome.”3

As for now, Fr. Bourgeois is comfortable with his decision. When asked to recant his actions, he simply responded: “No way.”

Hopefully, Rome will mete out a stiffer punishment for his blatant disregard for Church teaching. In face of that perspective, Father Bourgeois is implacable. When asked what he would do if Rome decides to excommunicate him, he responded: “I would be very, very sad. I’ve been a Maryknoll priest for 36 years. But if Rome came down with the ax? I’d have to embrace it.”4


  1. To SOA Watch Protesters: Be Consistent! To the Military: Be Proud!

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