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Lift the Ban on Women Priests: an Open Letter to Pope Francis

Dear Pope Francis:

In 2012, after serving as a Catholic priest for 40 years, I was expelled from the priesthood because of my public support for the ordination of women. My expulsion from the priesthood by Pope Benedict came just five months before you became our Pope.

As Catholics, we are taught that men and women are created equal: “There is neither male nor female. In Christ you are one.” (Galatians 3:28). Pope Francis, why can’t women be priests?

Catholic priests say that the call to be a priest comes from God. As a young man serving in the military in Vietnam, I felt God calling me to be a priest. I was accepted into the Maryknoll Fathers and was ordained in 1972. In my years of ministry, I met many devout Catholic women who told me about their calling to the priesthood. They were all rejected because of their gender.

Pope Francis, who are we, as men, to say our call from God is authentic, but God’s call to women is not? Isn’t our all-powerful God, who created the cosmos, capable of empowering a woman to be a priest?

Let’s face it. The male hierarchy’s problem with ordaining women is not with God but with an all-male clerical culture that views women as less than men. The problem is with men who see women as a threat to their power and privileges.

Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard we try to make God our partner in discriminating against others because of their gender, race, or sexual orientation, in the end, it is not the way of a loving God who created every one of equal worth and dignity.

When there is injustice, silence is complicity. The exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, the Catholic Church and our God, who calls both men and women to be priests.

Pope Francis, please break your silence and lift the ban on women’s ordination!

Roy Bourgeois

Columbus, Georgia

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