Roy Bourgeois, the priest who took his vows to stand with the crucified so seriously the Catholic Church expelled him
Originally published by The Chris Hedges ReportWhen one makes a commitment to become a Christian, he, or she, if they are serious, are required to lift and bear the cross. This is not a rhetorical feint. If you take this call seriously it means a life in perpetual opposition to power, including the institution of the church itself, and a commitment to always stand with those the theologian James Cone calls the crucified of the earth. It is a hard and lonely road, one that will see you, if you truly stand with the oppressed soon be treated like the oppressed. Roy Bourgeois takes this call seriously. He has paid the price. Born in a small Cajun town along the Mississippi River in Louisiana he played football in high school and after graduating from the University of Louisiana joined the Navy, eventually ending up in Vietnam as a Lieutenant where he would be wounded. Vietnam, he writes, became a turning point in his life. He worked in his off hours with a Catholic priest and two nuns who ran an orphanage, seeing in their work a compassion and love that was in stark contrast to the violence and death of war. He went to seminary and became a priest. He worked in the slums in Bolivia during the US-backed military dictatorship of General Hugo Banzar. He decided he could not be an apolitical priest, only saying mass and baptizing babies. He spoke out against the political repression, leading to his arrest and expulsion from Bolivia. This was just the start. He organized protests outside Fort Benning, Georgia, where the US was training Salvadoran soldiers to fight the leftist insurgency. He illegally entered the base to broadcast a taped message by the murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero for Salvadoran soldiers to stop the repression, an act that saw him sentenced to eighteen months in prison. In 1990 he entered the base again, sprinkling his own blood, along with the blood of other protestors, including Medal of Honor winner Charlie Liteky, over photographs of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and daughter, murdered by US-backed Salvadorean death squads. He went to prison for another sixteen months. His defied the Catholic hierarchy by actively supporting the ordination of women, for this act of justice he was expelled in 2012 from the priesthood. Joining me to discuss his remarkable life of resistance, and his steadfast fealty to the Christian call, is Roy Bourgeois, author of Male Supremacy in the Catholic Church An Insider’s View.
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, Presbyterian minister, author, and television host. His books include America: The Farewell Tour; American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America; War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction; Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009); Death of the Liberal Class (2010); Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012), written with cartoonist Joe Sacco, which was a New York Times best-seller; and Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (2015). He previously worked overseas for the Dallas Morning News, the Christian Science Monitor, and NPR, and hosted the Emmy-nominated RT America show On Contact.