Limerick priest challenges authorities over role of women in church
A woman ‘can give more meaning to the Eucharist than any male celibate’
Pope Francis set up a commission to look at the introduction of women deacons last year which will report “in a year or two”. Photograph: Reuters/Osservatore Romano
Fr Roy Donovan, parish priest of Caheronlish in Co Limerick, also objects to the introduction of a male-only permanent diaconate in his Cashel Archdiocese before completion of a report by the papal commission on women deacons.
On women priests , Fr Donovan said he believed “a woman could celebrate the Eucharist even better than a man being more familiar with the shedding of blood. A woman saying ‘this is my body, this is my blood’ can give more meaning to the Eucharist than any male celibate.”
He also knew women “who feel it in their bones and souls that they have a call to the priesthood”.
Fr Donovan was responding to the setting up of a working group by Archbishop of Cashel Kieran O’Reilly to look at introducing the male-only permanent diaconate in the diocese.
Fr Donovan was “upset” and “taken aback” by this decision of the Archbishop’s as Pope Francis had set up a commission to look at the introduction of women deacons last year which would report “in a year or two.” He was, therefore, “uncomfortable” about Archbishop O’Reilly’s decision.
Ultimately, he felt such matters were for the local church community to decide. His fear was that parishes were “going the way of the gardaí and post offices.” Local communities “should have the last say and permanent deacons were not the answer,” he said. Nor was parish clustering, he said.
What was happening now where bishops were concerned was “a kicking of the can down the road. They are not facing reality”.
Fr Donovan was particularly surprised at Archbishop O’Reilly’s decision concerning the permanent diaconate in Cashel folowing his experiences of attempting to introduce it in his previous diocese, Killaloe.
In September 2014, two months before it was announced he had been appointed Archbishop of Cashel, then Bishop O’Reilly announced he was delaying introduction of the permanent diaconate there following strong protests by women mainly.
Just a month beforehand, in a pastoral letter circulated throughout parishes in Killaloe, he had invited men to apply for posts as permanent deacons there.