Women’s role in the Catholic Church


A chara, – The arguments for women’s equality in the church are too strong to be dismissed as easily as they were in the past. The old arguments that there were no women at the Last Supper or that Christ ordained men only do not hold water any longer. Times have changed and are changing. Women have achieved a degree of equality in society. Women make a huge contribution to political life and are involved in decision making at all levels. Other Christian churches have removed the impediments to women taking part in decision-making and in ministry alongside males. Mary McAleese has reignited the debate about women’s role in the Catholic Church, and for that she must be thanked. – Yours, etc,


Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

Sir, – Mary McAleese’s diatribe was well over the top. – Yours, etc,


Killarney, Co Kerry.

Sir, – Some 32 years ago, Irish woman Elizabeth Lovatt-Dolan, who served as president of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations from 1974 to 1983, identified “some issues which we must face together if we are serious about building a new community of women and men in the Church”. “1. Participation of women in decision making.2. Exclusion of women from ministries solely on the basis of gender. 3. Inclusion of the experience and insights of women in all areas of pastoral activity. 4. Language – in the Mass – the Breviary – translations of liturgy and Scripture. 5. Ordination. 6. Power”(Women in Society and the Church, Irish Messenger Publications).

Must we wait another 32 years for these issues to be seriously addressed by the leadership of the Catholic Church? – Yours, etc,


Killarney,Co Kerry.

Sir, – Reading the letters which appeared on your letters page recently on the subject of women’s ordination within the Catholic Church gave me a sad feeling of déjà vu. I quote from a letter to a predecessor of yours which was printed in The Irish Times in 1986: “I cannot agree with the assumption that Christ deliberately chose to exclude women from his ministry. Surely the fact that none of Christ’s apostles was a woman is not surprising, given the historical and cultural context in which Christ lived. What is surprising and disappointing is that 2,000 years later, literal interpretations of Scripture and obstinate adherence to tradition seem to prevent Christ’s Church from reflecting, in its own structure, the spirit of Christian justice. Surely Christian justice teaches that all human beings are equal in the sight of God and that all Christians should contribute to the building of God’s reign in whatever capacity their individual talents allow, regardless of race, class or sex”. I wrote that letter 32 years ago. No arguments against the ordination of women which I have heard in the intervening years have changed my mind. And now, alas, it is more than a question of refusing ordination to the many eminently suitable women candidates for the priesthood (although I doubt that nowadays there can be many young Catholic women who aspire to be priests). Now there is the urgent broad question of what future there is for the institutional church if it continues to sideline and alienate its women members. Although Pope Francis has given very welcome enlightened leadership in recent years, his definitive rejection of even the discussion of women’s ordination has sent a very disappointing signal to all Catholic women, namely that the institutional church is determined to continue the age-old exclusion of women from full participation in their own church. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 16.

Sir, – Mary McAleese asserts that the Catholic Church is the“global carrier of the virus of misogyny”, but I have yet to hear of an Islamic female cleric. I respectfully suggest that she confine “codology” to Bord Iascaigh Mhara. – Yours, etc,


Bishopstown, Cork.

A chara, – During Mary McAleese’s well-reported International Women’s Day address in Rome, I haven’t heard any media criticism of her condescending and ageist remark that those inside the Vatican should “turn up their hearing aids”. Were that comment made by a man about a woman’s organisation, I’m sure there’d be one hell of a row. – Is mise,


Rinn Ua gCuanach,

Co Phortláirge.

Sir, – As a person with a hearing aid, I found her comment ageist and derogatory. Hearing loss effects a lot of people now, with more young people presenting with the issue. It is an issue that warrants more awareness and sensitivity and should not be used as an allusion to highlight inadequacies in the Catholic Church. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 24.

Sir, – Pope Francis should now show his mettle and appoint Mary McAleese to rid the Catholic Church of the virus of misogynist codology, with the brief to replace it with the positive virus of real pastoral care of everyone, both female and male. – Yours, etc,



Hampshire, England.

Sir, – Sheila Deegan in her letter of support for Mary McAleese stated that “we are all behind her” (March 9th). I certainly am not behind her and I was appalled at her speech from Rome. – Yours, etc,


Bray, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Mary McAleese has made her views on the church very clear in recent days. Why did she not tell the electorate about her views on the church in the presidential election campaign in 1997? – Yours, etc,



Co Limerick.