Minister 'does not deserve publicity' for role in Mass after no-show - says parish priest
Church 'will not change core teachings over a mix-up'
A PRIEST working in Josepha Madigan's parish has hit back at the minister, saying her role in last weekend's service was "blown out of proportion" and her comments on the Church are "ridiculous".
Fr Brian O'Reilly weighed into the Church versus State row by insisting Ms Madigan "did not deserve publicity" as it was "not unusual" for lay people to take part in the parish's Saturday Mass.
The minister infuriated Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin after she claimed the shortage of priests in her parish means the Catholic Church will have to embrace the idea of ordaining women. She also advocated allowing priests to marry.
Fr O'Reilly said he was "surprised" that the minister volunteered at the service in the Church of St Therese, in Mount Merrion, in Dublin, and questioned who reported it to the media.
The priest said he would have officiated but had scheduled time off and was not informed that his replacement had failed to show up to say Mass.
Fr O'Reilly said "no one forces anyone to be Catholic" before adding that people are free to leave the Church if they do not agree with its teachings.
"I don't know who is doing what [but] I know the whole thing is blown out of proportion and getting into the issue of women priests and other matters - for God sake roll over and have a rest," he said.
He said the Church is an "independent institution" and has its "own lines of demarcation".
"If you can't live by it you don't have to live by it. No one forces anybody to be a Catholic. We don't put a gun to anybody's head," he added.
The priest's comments follow criticism from Archbishop Martin who accused Ms Madigan of "pushing an agenda" by calling for female priests after she played a role in Saturday's service.
Archbishop Martin said the minister's remarks had caused "considerable distress" among churchgoers.
"Many [parishioners] have contacted my office to express their hurt and upset at the minister's comments, as reported in the media," he said.
"Her expressed view that a mix-up in a Dublin parish on one particular Saturday evening should lead to the universal Church changing core teachings is bizarre."
The minister said she was not seeking to push an agenda but rather trying to highlight what she believed to be an inequality within the Church.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar backed Ms Madigan's calls to allow women to become priests.
Asked about the dispute between Ms Madigan and Archbishop Martin, the Taoiseach said he has a "very interesting and diverse Cabinet".
"According to the papers anyway, [Children's Minister] Katherine Zappone has practiced witchcraft in the past and now Minister Madigan is saying Mass. I'm not sure if either of those things are quite true," he said.
Mr Varadkar said he spoke to someone who attended the service to get a first-hand version of events.
"I think what she did was a very nice thing and I believe she received a round of applause for doing so," Mr Varadkar said.
"As regards female priests, I believe in equality in all things and equality in the workplace. That would include [allowing]priests to marry and allowing women to become priests.
"I also strongly believe in the separation of Church and State so that is not something the Government is going to be legislating about," he said.