Row over women’s role in Catholic Church


Sir, – We would like to thank Josepha Madigan for leading prayers, with others, in St Thérèse’s Church, Mount Merrion last Saturday evening, in the absence of a priest. We support her subsequent call for equality for women in the Catholic Church.

If Archbishop Diarmuid Martin wishes to speak for the parishioners of Mount Merrion we would be delighted to host him for an open discussion so that he might learn our views. – Yours, etc,


Sir, – How dare Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Josepha Madigan TD interfere in church issues? They have no right to poke their noses into the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Now that the Government got a majority vote for abortion and that same-sex legislation was passed, Ms Madigan and the Government think they can walk roughshod over everybody’s rights.

The Government agrees with the separation of church and State. It doesn’t allow the church to interfere in State affairs, but Ms Madigan and the Government have no qualms about interfering in church affairs. Mr Varadkar is right that he will not be legislating for so-called equality in the church, because the church isn’t under his control.

There are clearly written documents issued by the church’s Magisterium (teaching authority) the most important of these is the Apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis written by Pope John Paul in 1994 and in 1998 the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith issued an explanatory note as to why women will not be ordained priests.

It said that the church’s position on reserving priestly ordination to men alone, “founded on the written Word of God constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the church has been set forth infallible by the ordinary and universal Magisterium”. Therefore we should not expect that this teaching will ever change.

Josepha Madigan and her colleagues may not be happy with such teaching, but they have to respect that others are entitled to their beliefs and have a right not to be bullied by those who disagree. – Yours, etc,


Buncrana, Co Donegal.

Sir, – Although I would not be a supporter of Josepha Madigan’s political views, I am 100 per cent behind her in her disagreement with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin.

Having participated in two prayer services in my local church, led by ladies because of “no shows” by male clerics, I have to confess to moral cowardice by not announcing “This would not have happened if the Roman Catholic hierarchy permitted either married or women priests.

“Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am with them.”

The Roman Catholic position has no biblical validity –it is based on misogyny and a policy of control and financial supremacy. Married clergy dilute the finances of the church. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – If someone stood up in Dáil Éireann and took over proceedings because their local TD wasn’t present, action would certainly be taken.

The Dáil has proper procedures and so does the church.

There are many communion services that are led by delegated, trained women in their local churches, in the absence of a priest. This is a fully accepted practice and the media are not brought in to make an issue of it.

If Ministers want separation of church and State, then they themselves should not meddle in church matters.The Taoiseach says he is for equality in all cases. He has recently led the charge to overturn one of the most basic equality laws of the State, as did Josepha Madigan. – Yours, etc,


Raheny, Dublin 5.

Sir, – I applaud Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan for leading a eucharistic service in the absence of a priest.

I am sorry that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin chose to reprimand her instead of congratulating her. For years, every week as a missionary, I led Sunday services ensuring that churchgoers were able to receive Jesus, and they were always so grateful. The eucharist is the centre of our faith so we need to hear what the Holy Spirit is trying to say to us today. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.

A chara, – When Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan advocated for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks and beyond as per heads of Bill, she must have known that this was incompatible with her Catholic faith.

She should have known that resigning from the baptismal committee and ministry of the word would have been the correct course of action.

Well done to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for advising her that many people in Mount Merrion were upset at her because of her pivotal role in the abortion referendum and therefore rightly upset at her continued ministry in the parish church. I support and agree with the Archbishop. – Yours, etc,


Mount Merrion,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – A relentless, unwarranted attack on the Catholic Church yet again!

I believe that it was quite right for Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to state that the Minister, Josepha Madigan, upset several parishioners in the parish of Mount Merrion and several other parishioners in other parishes too, I might add.

The Minister for Culture played a leading role in pushing for abortion in the recent referendum. This is strongly against Catholic Church teaching.

To then assume a role on the altar and subsequently to call publicly for women to be ordained priests and for priests to be allowed marry is not within her remit or position.

The Pope is the head of the church and only he and his Council of Cardinals have the authority to make such decisions.

Ms Madigan may get the opportunity to discuss her concerns regarding women’s roles in the church with the Pope in August, which she can certainly do.

However, using her position to try to change long-standing Catholic Church teachings now on these issues, should certainly not be permissible or acceptable. Rather it is a matter of papal supremacy. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 3.

Sir, – I would like to dispute the argument Archbishop Diarmuid Martin made regarding women’s place in the Catholic Church.

Their exclusion from the presbyterate is not based either on a core teaching of Jesus Christ or of his church. In The Furrow of February 2016, I quoted from Lk.24: 48, when, in sending them out on their mission, the Risen Christ told them: “You are my witnesses to this”. However, in the list of those named as being invalid witnesses at that time in Israel, were first of all women – followed by slaves, minors, the blind, the deaf etc.

Consequently, Jesus was not in a position to ordain any of those women who had followed him so loyally, as his witnesses to the good news.

In fact, it was only 67 years ago that the modern State of Israel allowed female witnesses in a civil court of law by passing the Equality of Women’s Act of 1951.

It is also interesting that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel does not allow for female witnesses for ritual purposes even yet.

The main argument I was making when I wrote that article for The Furrow was that it was now an obvious injustice to exclude women from the presbyterate.

Interestingly, no one, in either the clerical or secular world disputed my argument at the time.

So, well done Josepha Madigan! – Yours, etc,




Sir, – I notice in reports on the hostile reaction of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to Josepha’s Madigan’s comments on the church that he does not appear to think it necessary to apologise to the congregation for the failure of a priest to arrive to celebrate Mass.

Perhaps he is just too worried about their “finer” feelings? – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.