N.Y. Times Dwells on the 'Sexism Is a Sin' Watch for 'Womenpriests'

The New York Times is seriously stretching the maxim “all the news that’s fit to print” in celebrating a small band of liberal activists for women priests in the Catholic Church. On Tuesday, religion reporter Laurie Goodstein publicized the latest twist: radical leftist Father Roy Bourgeois, best known for feverishly protesting the U.S. armed forces training center called the School of the Americas, has been dismissed by his liberal order, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Goodstein promoted the “womenpriests” movement as vibrant and growing: “Father Bourgeois has gone further than any other priest in good standing to ally himself publicly with the growing women's ordination movement. The group Roman Catholic Womenpriests claims to have ordained 120 women as priests and 10 as bishops in the last few years. The Vatican regards the ceremonies as illicit and invalid.”

The only “conservative” quote in the piece came from the order’s letter of dismissal: "Your numerous public statements and appearances in support of the women's priests movement continues to create in the minds of many faithful the view that your position is acceptable to our Church," the letter said, adding that Father Bourgeois had caused the church "grave scandal."

Goodstein and her editors were only interested in the feminist notion that women must be allowed to be priests and they must break the "stained glass ceiling," and that it’s unreasonable that a Catholic priest is expected to keep the vow of obedience he took to teach and preach what the church does. Mysteriously, Goodstein avoided the indictment of the church as sexist sinners, as Bourgeois wrote: "Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination against women, in the end, it is not the way of God, but of men who want to hold on to their power."

"They want two words: I recant," Father Bourgeois said. "And they can't get that out of me. For me, the real scandal is the message we are sending to women: you're not equal, you cannot be priests, you're not worthy."

...The order's move, while expected, nevertheless surprised Father Bourgeois and some of his supporters who had hoped that the Maryknolls, often in the forefront of liberal causes, would stand with their fellow priest. More than 200 priests signed a petition to the Maryknolls saying that they supported his right to follow his conscience.

"I'm disappointed," said Sister Beth Rindler, a coordinator of the National Coalition of American Nuns, a small group that has long called for women's ordination. "I thought that with the support that Father Roy's been receiving, maybe they would yield. It seems to me that the church is trying to teach that women are subservient to men, and I'm just surprised that they hold onto that."

William Donohue of the Catholic League wrote in rebuttal of another recent one-sided Times story  by Dirk Johnson on Father Roy: "Had he been a Times reporter who decided to break with the newspaper's editorial position on abortion—putting a positive spin on pro-life leaders, while casting aspersions on abortion-rights advocates—he would not have lasted three weeks. So much for the glory of dissent."

Or as Dr. Jeff Mirus wrote in a detailed and dismissive review for the blog Catholic Culture, Father Roy seemed to be praying his will be done in defiance of a global church structure. He surmised he prayed with this attitude:

“I reflected that I want women to be ordained; I studied all the arguments that attracted me from modern egalitarianism and feminism; and I prayed that my will would be done.” No doubt Fr. Bourgeois consulted widely as well, as the disobedient always claim to do, with the notable exception of consulting God.

Dare I risk stating the obvious? This attitude does not come from transcending ourselves and listening to God. Instead, it is the attitude of “a person whose political, economic, and social opinions are determined mainly by conventional respectability.” Ironically, this is the definition of bourgeois.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis