Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Maryknoll Picks New Top Missionary... and Peace Agent?

Last week, the New York-based Maryknoll Society chose a local boy done good -- its procurator general Fr Edward Dougherty -- as its new superior general.

Founded in 1911, the community's trademark has been the missions -- both to those geographically at the margins, and those here at home on the edges of society. Yet given Dougherty's prior role as Maryknoll's lead Vatican liaison, it's been said that his new mission doubles as a peace offering to Rome after one of its members got in CDF-grade hot water for attending a purported women's "ordination" in August.

From the order's Westchester home-base, Gary Stern muses:
One has to wonder: Will Dougherty’s connections at the Vatican help with the fall-out from the Roy Bourgeois affair?

You might remember that Father Bourgeois—one of Maryknoll’s best-known priests because of his work to close the School of the Americas—is in hot water for taking part in a “ordination” ceremony for a female priest this past August.

Maryknoll’s current leadership issued a “canonical warning” to Bourgeois, telling him that he has broken church law. Their findings were then sent to the Vatican.

But Bourgeois has no regrets, insisting that the Catholic Church’s unwillingness to ordain women is sexist and discriminatory.

He told me: “As a Catholic priest – and this is important – I cannot possibly speak out about the injustice of the war in Iraq, about the injustice of the School of the Americas and the suffering it causes, and at the same time be silent about this injustice in my church. I belong to a huge faith community where women are excluded, and I have a responsibility to address this.”
Likewise the postulator for the causes of beatification for two of the Society's founders -- Bishop James Walsh and Fr Thomas Price -- the incoming superior will serve a six-year term.