Irish Catholics call for women to be ordained priests in landmark report


A landmark report on the views of tens of thousands of Irish Catholics calls for equal treatment for women in leadership and decision-making, and their ordination to the diaconate and priesthood.

The National Synthesis Report, which is the result of consultations begun in 2021 across the 26 dioceses of the Church of Ireland, says the role of women in the church has been mentioned in almost every submission and that the exclusion of women from the diaconate ” was considered particularly hurtful”.

The report cites a submission that said, “Women have a special place in the church, but not an equal place.”

Many of the women interviewed noted that they are no longer willing to be considered second-class citizens, and many are leaving the Church.

“They feel that while their contribution has been invaluable over the years, it has been taken for granted,” the report reads.

She also recognizes that many young people fail to understand the Church’s attitude towards women. “Because of the discrepancy between the Church’s image of women and the role of women in today’s society”, young people perceive the Church as “patriarchal” and “misogynistic”.

Stressing the need to learn the lessons of the past, the report describes church officials’ concealment of physical, sexual and emotional abuse as an “open wound.”

It states that the church needs inner healing at all levels and calls for repentance and atonement for abuse at the national level. An abuse survivor who participated in the consultation process is quoted as saying the church needs to “find a forum where we can all heal together.”

The document, sent to the Vatican today while being published online by Ireland’s bishops, recognizes the impact of a significant decline in faith practice and vocations to the priesthood and religious life in recent decades.

Approximately 15 themes are identified from the diocese’s submissions and discussions. Aside from the role of women and the legacy of child abuse, Irish Catholics are drawing attention to other issues including a call for co-responsibility with lay people and more accountability, transparency, participation and good governance in the future leadership of the Church of Ireland.

Many people said they felt that decision-making and authority was exercised exclusively by priests and bishops.

On the question of the clergy, participants expressed their appreciation for the priests, their dedication, hard work and pastoral care. Many recognized that priests are overworked and often feel weighed down by the weight of leadership and administration.

Concerns have also been raised about an aging clergy in Ireland. Some participants expressed concern that younger priests can be very traditional and rigid in their thinking and may not have the skills needed for shared leadership.

Adult faith development, resources for lay ministry, and shared decision-making were labeled as “poor or absent” by participants. Ministers acknowledged that they are often too tired and exhausted to engage with these developments.

Elsewhere in the report, there was “a clear, overwhelming call for the full inclusion of LGBTQI+ people in the church, voiced by all age groups, particularly young people and members of the LGBTQI+ community.”

The reform would involve less judgmental language in the Church’s teaching and the kind of compassionate approach taken by Pope Francis. Some participants called for a change in church doctrine and questioned whether the church is paying enough attention to developments related to human sexuality and the lived realities of LGBTQI+ couples.

Others, however, expressed concern that a change in Church doctrine would simply conform to secular standards and contemporary culture.

The church’s “rules and regulations” for divorced and remarried people were considered “draconian.” Some divorced and separated people believed they could not receive the Eucharist even though they had not entered into a second relationship. Others described their exclusion by priests from any active role in the community because of their status.

Regarding the liturgy, participants said that funerals and special occasions are celebrated very well, but there is a need for more creative and engaging liturgies to connect with families and young people. Some find that the liturgies of the Church are dull and shallow, that they no longer speak to people’s lives.

Sermons were frequently described as being too long, ill-prepared, irrelevant, monotonous and not always connected to life.

The question of how the Church could engage with young people was universal in all dioceses and organizations and many contributions expressed the view that other youth organizations offer young people a more welcoming home than parishes.

Among the responses from youth, one said, “The only thing we look for as young people is sincerity.” The report acknowledged that in many instances it was felt that this was lacking in the church.

Many of the young participants were critical of the church in terms of the role of women, clerical celibacy and how the abuse crisis was dealt with. A significant number disagreed with the Church’s position on sex, which some young people saw as a barrier to participation.

Other young people, however, said that the church’s sex teaching was “a welcome challenge” for them.

“The issues raised are not new, but the honesty and clarity with which they have been articulated in this process provides a strong foundation to build on,” said Dr. Nicola Brady, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Church of Ireland’s Synodal Pathway, today.

dr Brady, who revealed the content of the report in a speech at Knock Novena, described some of the findings as “glaring” and said that “many of the experiences shared are painful” but the findings had “many hopeful and encouraging aspects”. Irish Catholics call for women to be ordained priests in landmark report

Fry Electronics Team

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