Sacred Bonds: Doing What Is Right and What Is Just

Abby Zimet

In an audience Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square, the new Pope Francis cited the "special role" of women in the church, which may or may not shore up the cautious hope of some Catholics he will begin to bring the church into this century. What remains to be seen: His response to an appeal by Roy Bourgeois, longtime priest and activist and one of the Church's true if too-rare good guys, to be reinstated into a sacred service where for 45 years he worked to undo "our national sins" - in Vietnam and El Salvador, at the torture-teaching School of the Americas and, in what he called the final "poking (of)  the beehive of church patriarchy," in the fight for women's ordination. For this last affront, he was dismissed from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers after being told he was “causing grave scandal,” though God knows the words  scandal and church conjure for most people other sins. Citing his childhood in a segregated Louisiana, Bourgeois says simply that "sexism, like racism, is a sin."

"We justified our prejudice by saying this was “our tradition” and that we were “separate but equal.” During all those years, I cannot remember one white person — not a teacher, parent, priest or student (myself included) — who dared to say, “There is a problem here, and it’s called racism.”

"Where there is injustice, silence is complicity. What I have witnessed is a grave injustice against women, my church and our God, who called both men and women to be priests. I could not be silent. Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination against others, in the end, it is not the way of a loving God who created everyone of equal worth and dignity."

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