Taoiseach backs ordination of women as Catholic priests
Varadkar backs Madigan amid criticism from Archbishop for leading prayers
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform Paschal Donohoe speak to the medai before the National Economic Dialogue at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Speaking in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said he believed in equality in all things and in equality in the workplace.
Mr Varadkar said this would include allowing priests to marry and permitting women to become priests.
However the Taoiseach also said he strongly believed in the separation of church and State. “This is not something the Government is going to to legislating for.”
Speaking to journalists at the National Economic Dialogue in Dublin Castle, the Taoiseach also said Minister for Culture and Heritage Josepha Madigan had “done a very nice thing” in leading prayers at a church in Dublin last weekend when a priest failed to turn up.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin had criticised Ms Madigan for “pushing an agenda” after she helped conduct the church service in Mount Merrion.
Ms Madigan said afterwards the Church should ordain women and allow priests to marry. A failure to adapt would lead to a “severe decline” in church participation, she said in on Monday.
Mr Varadkar said he had a very diverse and interesting Cabinet.
He said according to newspapers, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone “has practiced witchcraft in the past and now Minister Madigan is saying Mass”.
“I am not sure if either of those things are quite true.”
He said he heard from someone who was in the church in Mount Merrion last weekend that when the priest was unable to attend for a variety of reasons , a number of women from the congregation, including the Minister, had led prayers.
“Certainly she did not say Mass,” he said. “I think what she did was a very nice thing and I understand she received a round of applause for doing so.”
In a strong rebuke of Ms Madigan’s comments, Archbishop Martin said on Tuesday the Minister had provoked “considerable distress” among churchgoers and ought to consider the upset she had caused.
“Many [parishoners] have contacted my office to express their hurt and upset at the Minister’s comments, as reported in the media,” he said in a statement.
Ms Madigan responded by saying she was disappointed by the personal nature of Archbishop Martin’s statement and said she intended to raise her concerns with Pope Francis when he visits Ireland next month.