A catholic woman bishop, who has been excommunicated by the Vatican, has appealed to Irish women who feel called to priesthood to join her renegade movement of women priests.
Co Laois-born Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan is a former nun and was ordained a priest in Pittsburgh, USA, in July 2006. She was later ordained a bishop in California and she now ministers as a priest in Sarasota, Florida, even though the Catholic Church forbids the ordination of women on pain of excommunication.
More than 250 women priests and bishops around the world have defied the Vatican's ban and are members of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP).
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Dr Meehan said she travelled to Ireland to recruit more women and yesterday presided at a Mass in Dublin.
Demanding "equal rites" and "equal rights", Dr Meehan (69) said the failure to ordain women was a "lack of imagination" on the part of the hierarchy. "We are not leaving the Church; we are leading the Church towards equality, inclusivity and justice," she said. "The Church needs to heal the wounds of hundreds of years of sexism."