Times caption: Josepha Madigan has called for the ordination of women and married men (SHANE O’NEILL/SON PHOTOGRAPHIC)
A piece in today’s Times:
The arts, culture and heritage minister has called on the Catholic Church to break its own “glass ceiling” and let women become priests.
Josepha Madigan claimed that the church was “airbrushing out” some marginalised and stigmatised people, including LGBT couples.
Ms Madigan was speaking at a We Are Church event at the Talbot Hotel Stillorgan yesterday. The event was moved from a Dublin venue owned by the Sisters of Mercy after anti-abortion activists threatened to stage a protest if Ms Madigan, who is pro-choice, was allowed to speak at the Mercy International Centre.
The TD told the audience that “it should not come [as] a source of surprise to see a woman on the altar including in the priesthood itself”. She said she was making the comments as a member of the church community.
Last summer Ms Madigan exchanged sharp words with Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, after he accused her of calling for a “bizarre” change in policy on women priests. She accused him of a personal attack and said she would use the Pope’s visit to Ireland to call for the inclusion of women and married men in the clergy.
Last night she asked if Catholics were expected to “really believe” that a woman who had a calling to be a priest would be discriminated against by God “purely based on her gender”.
“The role of women in the priesthood is still considered a taboo topic at the highest levels. What is the church afraid of?” Ms Madigan said that excluding women from leadership roles was making the church weaker and asked what kind of example it was to young girls.
“Yes, we say, to our 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. That vocation is only for a man. You are not welcome here. You are not welcome here because you are female.”
She said there were “so many” women in the church who were leaders in waiting. “Don’t think for a moment that women are not holding this church together,” she said. “You can walk into any parish in this country and around the world. More often than not, it is women who are holding parishes together, doing the lion’s share.
“Women work for the church. They simply face a glass ceiling that bars them from being able to apply for, or be appointed to, important leadership positions. And glass ceilings are being broken in many sectors, politics, science, so why not in the church?”
The minister said that while there had been an increase in people in Ireland who had no faith, 78 per cent said that they were Catholic.
“Catholics come in all shapes and sizes. I think any church worth its salt should be big enough to provide a shared pew for the gay couple, the Opus Dei man, the divorced and the newly married couple, the single parent and the large traditional family.
“We are all the many faces of Catholicism as it is lived, rather than imagined. We don’t need an exclusively right-wing or left-wing church. We need one that is focused on living the faith and working for social justice every day. As it stands I feel many are airbrushed out of this picture. The Catholic Church has a blind spot when it comes to inclusion of the marginalised or the stigmatised.”
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