What happens if a Catholic priest molests children?
Usually, he’s protected by the Church hierarchy. Maybe he’ll eventually have his parish or diocese taken away, or be switched to another one — often after years of serial abuse. But there’s a good chance he’ll stay in the Church.
So what happens if a Catholic priest publicly supports ordaining women? Well, then he’s excommunicated on the double.
“Nearly 5,000 Catholic priests [in the U.S.] have sexually abused over 12,000 Catholic childrenâ€¦but they were not excommunicated,” says Father Roy Bourgeois, who faced the latter scenario after helping celebrate what the Vatican considers to be an illegitimate ordination mass in August 2008. Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran with a Purple Heart who became a prominent peace activist, stood with the trailblazers of the female ordination movement in Lexington, Ky., to make Janice Sevre-Duszynska a Catholic priest.
For thumbing his nose at one of the most sacred tenets of the conservative hierarchy — that only men are worthy of the priesthood — Bourgeois was swiftly rebuked by the Vatican in a letter two months later, telling him he had 30 days to renounce his actions or face excommunication.