Women to the fore as priest urges inclusion


DROGHEDA:WOMEN PLAYED a leading role in at least one Mass yesterday.

At the Augustinian Church in Drogheda, businesswoman and Senator Mary White was invited to speak to the congregation at 1.15pm Mass, while the Communion reflection was written by a young woman parishioner.

They took part at the instigation of Fr Iggy O’Donovan who told the congregation he could not ignore “the elephant in the room” – that it was “women’s boycott Sunday” – and he was welcoming all genders “as we try to be as inclusive as possible”.

He believed there is “nothing in our tradition that excludes women from the fullness of priestly ministry forever”. It was “appropriate that Senator White who is not only a strong advocate of the rights of our senior citizens but is moreover an avid supporter of the rights of women”, should speak, he said.

In her presentation, she said it was time for society to change its outlook towards older people because it has “great difficulty in adapting to the reality of more older and active people. Marketing and consumer advertising is predominantly aimed at the young.”

Fr O’Donovan said he wanted “to give women as prominent a part in our liturgy as is possible” and the Communion reflection was written by Muireann McGinty (24) who works in independent media. She said the boycott of Mass yesterday was suggested to highlight inequality and injustice in the church but “I fail to see how an antiquated action such as a boycott can achieve a desired impact. It is regressive in terms of dialogue and adversely advocates a bitter debate as opposed to actively engaging in it . . .”

Fr O’Donovan said the fact that the Catholic Church did not ordain women 2,000 years ago is still “a milestone round our necks”, and he acknowledged that “full recognition of the equality of women in our church will not come about anytime soon”.

In Killarney, Co Kerry, another priest told Mass goers that the treatment of women in the church needed urgent discussion. At the Church of the Resurrection in Killarney, Fr Kevin McNamara, said he disagreed with calls for a protest or a boycott of the Mass.

However, he said the treatment of women was “a very serious topic” and it needed urgent attention, especially given the crisis in ordinations.