Journalism about Womenpriests

royWe have noted the generally weak coverage of Roman Catholic Womenpriests so it's worth noting a publication that did better. The New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote about the looming excommunication of an actual Roman Catholic priest who participated in a Roman Catholic Womenpriests ceremony. Check out how the paper delicately handled the competing claims of the two groups:

The Rev. Roy Bourgeois, the missionary priest from Lutcher who has devoted his career to opposing U.S. policy in Latin America, appears to be on the brink of excommunication from the Catholic church for participating in a ceremony that purportedly ordained a woman to the priesthood.

Bourgeois, a member of the Maryknoll order, said the Vatican recently gave him 30 days to formally recant his position in favor of women's ordination, or face excommunication. In a response posted on the Web site of the National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper, Bourgeois told the Vatican he could not in conscience do so. He said he believes a call to the priesthood comes from God and it is inappropriate for the church to interfere with it.

"Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard or how long we may try to justify discrimination, in the end, it is always immoral, " he wrote.

The Catholic church teaches that men and women are of equal dignity and entitled to equitable treatment at home, work and in other arenas. But it holds that Christ defined the priesthood as an all-male corps modeled on himself, and it is powerless to change that.

One quibble is that the article doesn't explain where its statements about the Catholic church come from. It just states them as fact, as in the last paragraph above.

This information is not that hard to find, if you can enter "John Paul II" and "ordination of women" into a search engine. Here's the definitive document, the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

The article notes Catholic teaching in multiple places, which is nice. And it does a tremendous job of putting Bourgeois' activism in context, though, and really makes his story come to life. It quotes him at length, explains the ceremony that got him in trouble, notes his larger opposition to Catholic teaching on women, and tells of his activism at the Army's School of the Americas. It even explains that he met the female who was ordained at the ceremony that got him in trouble at a School of the Americas protest.

All in all, the article is informative and engaging. It's sympathetic portrayal of Bourgeois is balanced with a straightforward description of Catholic teaching. And those descriptions aren't just about what the Catholic church opposes but what it supports. That's journalism.

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