Priests call for talk on total equality of women in church

Twelve priests in Ireland have issued a statement calling for an open discussion on equality for women in the Church, including in ministry.

“Discriminating against women encourages and reinforces abuse and violence against women in many cultures and societies,” they said.

Some of the 12 have been prominent members of the reformist Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland.

Among them is Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery, who was suspended from public ministry by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2012.

“We believe that we can no longer remain silent because to do so colludes with the systemic oppression of women within the Catholic Church,” the priests stated.

“So, in the spirit of Pope Francis constant encouragement of dialogue, we are calling for free and open discussion concerning the full equality of women in all facets of church life, including all forms of ministry,” they stated.

The priests note the equality of all Christians in Baptism.

They also reference recent papal statements, including those by Pope Francis on the topic, where he referenced St John Paul II and stated no further discussion is possible.

The priests stated that this situation is very damaging.

In September, Fr Flannery was banned from speaking at a parish in Cloyne diocese after intervention by a bishop.

Now the pastor of that parish has said that the bishop’s actions came after a self-appointed vigilante group of conservative Catholics complained.

In the US, Benedictine feminist Sr Joan Chittister said women are leaving the Catholic Church in droves.

In a recent open letter to Pope Francis, Sr Chittister wrote that women “are ignored — rejected — as full human beings, as genuine disciples, by their churches, including our own”.


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