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God's women

• The recent Association of Catholic Priests survey, which found that almost 90pc of Irish Catholics would support married priests and that 77pc were in favour of women being ordained, hopefully denotes a fruitful new awakening and not just another religious hot-air bubble.

As Catholics, we believe that Christ created 'mankind' in his own image and likeness, both man and woman. The word 'wo-man', which is probably of Hebrew origin, means 'from man'.

In the natural process, one cannot exist without the other -- putting the emphasis on equality. Likewise, the wording from the sacrament of marriage: "The two become one."

Records have it: the Catholic Church ordained women priests and bishops for nearly 11 centuries. The Bishop of Pelagio complained in the 14th Century that women were still being ordained as priests and hearing confessions. The New Testament implies that women presided at eucharistic meals in the early church. So why not again?

Women are far more active in the church, more religious, enthusiastic, sensitive and caring than men.

Up to the Council of Trent in the 16th Century, 50pc of priests were married and accepted by the people. Peter, the first pope, and the other apostles that Jesus had chosen were for the most part married men. Seven popes were married with children and Pope St Silverus had a son who became Pope St Homidas in the Fifth Century.

It was a change of Catholic Church rules that brought about celibacy in order to prevent church property getting into the hands of married couples and their children. Modern-day legislation would easily handle that. We have several married priests in the Catholic Church worldwide today and it seems to work.

As a regular church-goer, I'm very happy in my relationship with Jesus Christ and the teachings of His church. I would, however, feel lacking if I did not support optional celibacy and the ordination of women priests.

In a time of great change, these are moves towards real renewal that must bring all-round enhancement and interest in the Catholic Church.

James Gleeson

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Thurles, Co Tipperary

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