Vatican urged to overturn ban on women priests

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An international meeting of Catholic women priests, women bishops and their support groups which met in Co Louth at the weekend has said the Vatican must overturn its ban on women's ordination.

The international delegates from Ireland, the US, UK and Australia also expressed anger over the Vatican's categorisation of female ordination as a crime on a par with clerical paedophilia.

Erin Saiz Hanna of Women's Ordination Conference in the US told the Irish Independent, "It is very clear they are saying that women are defiling the Eucharist in the same way as men have defiled the Eucharist by abusing children."

Miriam Duignan, of womenpriests.org, warned that many Catholics "are so afraid of speaking out" on women's ordination, because the Vatican is liable to excommunicate them or lobby for their removal from their jobs if they work for a church agency.

As the spokeswoman for an umbrella organisation supporting women in the UK who feel they have been called to the priesthood, she said the identity of these women had to be kept secret.

"It feels like we are in the Soviet Union," she stated.

Bishop Olivia Doko, (71), who was ordained a priest in 2006 and a bishop in 2010, said she was tired of men deciding that women cannot be ordained and blaming God for it.

Referring to Bishop Kieran O'Reilly's decision to postpone the introduction of the male-only permanent diaconate in the diocese of Killaloe, Therese Koturbash of the Catholic Network for Women's Equality, said it was obvious that there is a "growing Catholic women's priest movement".

She added that Irish Catholics "are very ready for women's leadership in their faith communities".

They urged any Irish women who felt called to the priesthood to get in touch with them. Miriam Duignan called on the church to open up the diaconate to women as "a start".

Former priest, Paul Collins of Catholics for Ministry & WATAC in Australia said: "There is a ministerial revolution going on and the hierarchical church doesn't even know."

Pope Francis has backed the late John Paul II's declaration in 1994 which stated that the church's ban on women priests is definitive and not open to debate among Catholics.

Four of those who attended the meeting at the ICA's headquarters in Termonfeckin were part of a delegation who attempted to present a petition signed by 15,000 Catholics to the Vatican in October 2011.

It expressed support for Fr Roy Bourgeois, a US priest threatened with excommunication over women's ordination. Their efforts in Rome resulted in three of them being arrested.

Sarah MacDonald
Irish Independent
29 September 2014