I won’t be gagged over more rights for women in Church

Garry O'Sullivan

A Latin Mass priest tried yesterday to ban the paper I edit, The Irish Catholic, from his church for having the temerity to report in this week's issue that new research shows Catholic women do not feel appreciated by the Irish Church.

Hardly a startling revelation. But from the priest's point of view it was dangerous.


The majority of people in the pews these days are women, and he didn't want to stir them up. And rightly, too, from his point of view because there is huge anger out there. Several dioceses have held listening sessions and one of the major issues coming back to Church authorities is that a rubicon has been crossed and there's no going back.

And it is as simple as this; the vast majority of ordinary decent people believe that if women had been involved in the decision-making processes in the Irish Church, at least some of them would have cried halt to the cover-up of abuse and the mis-management that saw paedophiles moved on from parish to parish to wreck havoc on unsuspecting families and their children.

The logic is, and it is unassailable, a woman, especially a woman who has her own family, could never countenance such behaviour, could never sacrifice the innocence of children to protect an institution.

A mother knows what a seven-year-old child is like, the innocence, the vulnerability, just as Archbishop Martin, when he came to Dublin, went to visit a class of seven-year-olds just to see for himself the youthful innocence and put context into the reports of abuse he was reading.

A friend of mine who has worked with sex offenders who themselves had been abused when young, once asked a few of them if their own abuse was awful.

Yes, they replied, it was horrendous. Then, he said, why the hell did you inflict that horror on others? They normally didn't reply, or threatened to report him for asking such searching questions.

Denial is alive and well.

So when Fr Gerard Deighan, who is the administrator of Dublin's Harrington Street parish and was installed by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin as Chaplain to the Dublin Latin Mass community, rang the paper's accounts department to say that he was banning the paper for its "inappropriate headline and editorial", one has to wonder what does he think a Catholic paper is for?

If we in the Church can't handle the truth, the same truth that we propose to the wider world as the way to live a full human life, then how the hell can the Church stay open for business?


Apparently from a late evening call from him which I received, on the foot of several journalists ringing his phone he decided to reverse his earlier decision, he still believes that a Catholic newspaper is a theological version of Pravda, which gives the party line and does nothing to upset the status quo.

The small problem with that thinking is that Catholics follow a creed that puts truth above all else, even loyalty to the Pope.

Ironically, Pravda means truth and a common Russian saying at the time the paper was in circulation in the Soviet Union was that "In the Truth there is no news".

Christians believe in Good News, which is not touchy feely news, but information that cuts away all the bull that marketers and advertising people, bankers and so on throw at us in our daily lives, it is simply real.

If the Catholic media, which in my paper's case is independent of the Church, cannot be free to publish the truth, then has this journey through cover-up and mis-management been for nothing?

Priests and bishops are fond of saying that the truth will set us free, it's a nice saying for many as long as it doesn't impinge on their set ways and ideologies.

It's time for those who still don't get it, that the rubicon has been crossed and there's no going back to the clerical club mentality, it's time for them to 'get real'.