Angry pensioner urges women to boycott Sunday mass
A defiant pensioner is rallying Irish women to boycott Sunday mass for one day because she feels the hierarchy is treating them like second-class citizens.
Jennifer Sleeman, from Clonakilty, Co Cork, said she wants to concentrate the anger felt by women nationwide towards the Church in one strong action.
The 80-year-old is urging fellow mass-goers to mark September 26 as a day when they collectively shun services across the country.
"I have felt that a lot of women are angry," said Mrs Sleeman.
"They have been doing their own way of protesting. It all seems so spread around and it would be great if we could concentrate all this so it just came to me. I'm beginning to wonder is there a holy spirit and did it put the idea into my head?"
The pensioner, who turns 81 three days before the planned day of protest next month, said there were a range of issues angering women, including the church's failure to ordain female priests.
Mrs Sleeman, who converted to Catholicism from Presbyterianism 54 years ago, accepted her stance could provoke annoyance among the clergy but vowed to continue.
"I feel that I have right on my side. I don't feel it's just me. I feel it's so many people that would think the same way as I do," she continued.
The former farmer and marriage counsellor said she found the Murphy and Ryan reports - which last year catalogued widespread clerical child sex abuse and the subsequent cover-up by the hierarchy and State - horrifying.
"It pushed me over the edge I suppose," she said.
Mrs Sleeman's son Simon is a member of the Benedictine order based in Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick, and is supportive of her stance. She said he felt the Church should be reformed.
"He thinks it's brilliant," she said.