'Brazen' ban on women priests could lead to Church's 'slow death' - minister
The Catholic Church's ban on women priests is "brazen discrimination" and could bring about its "slow death", Culture Minister Josepha Madigan has warneed.
In an address titled, 'A Community of Faith: Why the Catholic Church should open all ministries to women', the Fine Gael TD asked what the church was afraid of.
She was addressing the We Are Church Forum yesterday evening in Dublin. The event had been scheduled to take place at the Mercy Sisters' International Centre in Baggot Street but had to be moved to a hotel in Stillorgan after pro-life supporters threatened to stage protests outside over the minister's support for abortion.
"Why are women forbidden from even being considered as members of the clergy, not to mention become an integral part of a new dynamic, representative, equal Church?" asked the politician, who acts as a minister of the word in her local Dublin parish.
She referred to the row last June when she, along with two other women from Mount Merrion parish, presided over a liturgy of the word when the priest scheduled to say Mass failed to turn up.
Though it had been reported that she "said" Mass, she stressed: "We only did what many other women and indeed men are doing. Our involvement was a reminder of the role of women in church ministry in general."
The minister highlighted how parents are forced to admit to their daughters, "you can be an altar girl but don't get too ahead of yourself, you will never be a priest. Even if you feel that God has called you, you are forbidden".
Ms Madigan added: "A Church without women in its leadership is a weaker Church. A paradigm shift in thinking in Church leadership is badly needed. If the Church wants to be strong, it needs to evolve.
"Let's be clear, women are in the Church. Women work for the Church. They simply face a glass ceiling that bars them from important leadership positions. And glass ceilings are being broken in many sectors, politics, science, so why not in the Church?"