An American Catholic View of the Irish Referendum

Ireland’s ‘Social Revolution’ – An Updated Brand of Traditionalism?

  1. J. Dionne Jr. May 28, 2015 – Commonweal Catholic magazine

BOSTON — Consider the stunned disbelief, perhaps of a somewhat aggressive sort, that would have greeted anyone who might have told a tavern crowd in Dorchester or Southie three decades ago that Ireland would be the first nation in the world to approve gay marriage by popular vote.

It is a mark of how much has changed in such a short time that Ireland’s vote for gay marriage last week was, in the end, the expected outcome — even if the breadth of marriage equality’s victory was breathtaking.

The referendum carried 62 percent of the vote. Only one of the nation’s 43 parliamentary constituencies, Roscommon-South Leitrim, voted “no,” and even there, supporters won nearly 49 percent of the vote. The rural-urban split many anticipated did not materialize. Socially conservative areas that had opposed liberalizing Ireland’s abortion and divorce laws in the past voted to allow gays and lesbians to marry.

The different outcome this time says something about why social liberalism finds its strongest expression these days around gay rights questions. If politics is often polarized because social changes can leave behind both winners and losers, it is far harder to make a case that there are any losers in the effort to provide for equality around sexual orientation. Ireland, a heartland of Catholicism that did so much to shape the Catholic Church in the United States, seemed to see things exactly this way.

But it’s also true that Ireland has undergone a sweeping cultural transformation in a very short time. Irish faith in the church was badly shaken by the hierarchy’s cover-up of the sex-abuse crisis even as the island was overtaken by a raucous materialism during the economic boom between 1995 and 2008. It was the era of the “Celtic tiger,” a prime example of how good things could be under capitalism.

Yet if God receded from Irish life, mammon received its comeuppance when the financial bubble burst, wreaking havoc. Ireland has since had to rebuild not only its economy but also its sense of meaning.

It’s striking that Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, one of Ireland’s most candid prelates in facing up to the costs and the shame of the abuse scandal, used the referendum outcome not as an occasion for an angry jeremiad but as an opportunity for an examination of conscience.

In words that echoed around the world, he told RTE News that “the church needs to do a reality check, a reality check right across the board.”

He also went out of his way to acknowledge the elation felt by those who had been forced into the shadows of Irish life. “I appreciate how gay and lesbian men and women feel on this day,” he said. “That they feel this is something that is enriching the way they live. I think it is a social revolution.”

And the archbishop specifically focused on the imperative “to look at the areas where we really have to start and say, ‘Look, have we drifted away completely from young people?'”

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I received this article, written by the American  Roman Catholic ‘Commonweal’ publication contributor, J. Dionne Jnr., from a Christchurch friend, who, as an ex-Jesuit student in the USA, believes it shows a marked difference in attitudes from those of his Roman Catholic schooling. The difference in the outlook of Irish Roman Catholics is expressed in this way:

“It is a mark of how much has changed in such a short time that Ireland’s vote for gay marriage last week was, in the end, the expected outcome — even if the breadth of marriage equality’s victory was breathtaking”.

The author’s reflection on the Irish Archbishop of Dublin’s (Diarmuid Martin) statement on the issue of the Church’s treatment of Gay people, shown here, bears thinking about:

the church needs to do a reality check, a reality check right across the board.”

He also went out of his way to acknowledge the elation felt by those who had been forced into the shadows of Irish life. “I appreciate how gay and lesbian men and women feel on this day,” he said. “That they feel this is something that is enriching the way they live. I think it is a social revolution.”

And the archbishop specifically focused on the imperative “to look at the areas where we really have to start and say, ‘Look, have we drifted away completely from young people?'”

If this is a problem for the Roman Catholic Church; it is no less a problem for other Christians – such as we in ACANZP, who need to carefully negotiate the terms of Motion 30 at our next General Synod

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Role of Youth in Irish Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

LGBT youth action has helped pull down ‘architecture of homophobia’

Fifty per cent of LGBT young people still consider suicide owing to stigma and homophobic bullying and one in five LGBT pupils avoid school

‘Slowly, but surely, we have been chipping away at what former President Mary McAleese succinctly describes as “the architecture of homophobia”.’  Mary McAleese, who was speaking at a Belong To Yes event, with Dr Martin McAleese, Ciara Sheehan and Nathan Beatty, (right). Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times‘Slowly, but surely, we have been chipping away at what former President Mary McAleese succinctly describes as “the architecture of homophobia”.’ Mary McAleese, who was speaking at a Belong To Yes event, with Dr Martin McAleese, Ciara Sheehan and Nathan Beatty, (right). Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

First published:Wed, May 27, 2015, 18:31

And we should all – the Yes campaigners and the Yes voters – be immensely proud of ourselves. Ireland did right by its LGBT young people, but our LGBT young people, over the past 12 years, also did right by Ireland.

A quiet revolution underpins the weekend’s historic victory for LGBT rights. This revolution has gone on among Ireland’s young people, with tens of thousands having the confidence to come out all across the country.

It has been far from easy for them but they did not leave home, they stayed put and their voices changed their communities, culminating in this marriage equality referendum victory. Those teenagers who have been coming out for over a decade – together with their friends and families – are now today’s voters and have secured marriage equality for us all.

This has change has been occurring since 2003, when BeLonG To (the national organisation for LGBT young people aged between 14 and 23 years) was established. At that time, young people’s sexuality and gender identity were taboo issues. It was widely believed that, even among other youth organisations, young people could not become LGBT until they became adults.

At first we couldn’t meet politicians and the existence of homophobia and resulting poor mental health among LGBT young people was categorically denied. The organisation was formed precisely because we – a group of youth workers – became acutely aware that existing services were not adequately equipped to support LGBT children and young people struggling with homophobic bullying.

In the last 12 years, we’ve come a long way. The Department of Education and the Catholic Management Body endorses BeLonG To’s Stand Up LGBT Awareness campaign in all secondary schools in Ireland and we’re one of the only countries in the world to have an LGBT school curriculum in place. The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and National Action Plan on Bullying now also accepts that homophobia leads to suicidal behaviour.

Slowly, but surely, we have been chipping away at what former President Mary McAleese succinctly describes as “the architecture of homophobia”. And so from supporting 52 people in our first year of opening, BeLonG To has since been able to help over 4,000 LGBT young people and their families each year in 20 locations across Ireland – the same small towns and villages that voted Yes on May 22nd.

It has taken years for us to deliver this step change in policy and even longer to win the hearts and minds of parents, teachers, families, the media and young people themselves. Attitudinal change takes time and it is notoriously difficult to measure, but I believe a shift has taken place over these years, resulting in a deep understanding across Ireland that, once LGBT young people (just like their peers) are safe and supported by their families, communities and schools, they thrive.

But we are in no way out of the woods. It is still tough growing up LGBT in Ireland, as exemplified to our youth workers during this campaign. They have seen a tenfold increase in the number of first time service users, owing to negative and disturbing comments they have been forced to hear during the marriage equality debate by the No camp. Coupled with the fact that 50 per cent of LGBT young people still consider suicide owing to stigma and homophobic bullying and one in five LGBT pupils avoid school, we are far from where we need to be.

However, in tapping into this quiet revolution, underway in our towns and villages, the marriage equality referendum has showcased the best of what it means to be Irish – to have open, kind hearts, a generosity of spirit and a great capacity to love. It has led the way and opened the door to a more progressive Ireland.

On Sunday, I spent time with LGBT young people at BeLonG To offices and I asked what we need to change next. Filled with hope and excitement for the future, they now want inclusive gender recognition legislation for transgender young people. So that will be BeLonG To’s next fight. That and social justice for all young people.

Michael Barron is the Founding Director of BeLonG To and Director of BeLonG To Yes – a coalition of 14 children and youth rights organisations which campaigned for a yes vote in the marriage equality referendum.

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This report in the ‘Irish Times’ indicates the part played by the local ‘BeLong To’,  an LGBTI organisation, in bringing to the attention of the Irish people the need to end a long-standing culture of homophobia that blights the lives of young Gays, Lesbians and Tran-Sexuals in Ireland.

As the author, Michael Barron (Director of ‘BeLong To Yes’), of this article claims, the passage of the Referendum leading to the legalisation of Equal Marriage in Ireland may not be the end of the struggle by young Gays for freedom from fear and the tendency for self-harm that has afflicted them in the past. There will need to be a more open understanding of the etiology and human implications of homosexuality and other sexual differences that occur in the make-up of the human creation.

However, the YES Vote for Equal Marriage, marks a new milestone in acceptance by the Irish people of the fact that to be Gay is not necessarily to be regarded as deviant or sick. Nor is it to be thought to be a product of disorder, dysfunction, or wanton disregard for sexual morality.

The fact that the Irish people are no longer dictated to by the out-dated understanding of human biology, which still exists in certain aspects of the teaching of the Church – which has considered all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage to be unlawful – gives rise to the hope than one day, in the not-too-distant future; homophobia – along with sexist discrimination – will have no part in human concourse.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Public Purity versus Private Reality in the U.S. Frontline

JOSH DUGGAR AND THE PURITY LIE

duggarpurity

Josh Duggar, the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, stars of “reality” TV and the real life conservative movement, has resigned his position as executive director of FRC Action, the political action arm of the Family Research Council, after In Touch magazine reportedthat he sexually abused young girls, including, apparently, his sisters, as a teenager.

In a statement to People magazine, Duggar, now 27, said:

Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. . . . I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.

Ruining his life.

According to the police report, Jim Bob and Michelle, paragons of parenting, hid Josh’s crimes from the police and the public. In Touch reports, based on the police report it obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, that:

Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview [sic] by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006. The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions. In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities.

The police report reveals that Jim Bob Duggar “met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on” rather than contacting law enforcement. Josh was then sent to “Christian counseling” for three months, which, according to his mother’s admission, was not any sort of licensed counseling facility:

Asked about the training center that Jim Bob said Josh was sent to, Michelle told police, according to the report, “it was not really a training center. Det. [Darrell] Hignite asked if the guy [redacted, Josh] talked to was a certified counselor. She said no. She said it was a guy they know in Little Rock that is remodeling a building. Det. Hignite asked if the guy was more of a mentor. She said “kind of.”

In their own statement to People, Jim Bob and Michelle say that “when Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong,” that “each one of our family members drew closer to God,” and that they “pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family.”

But the Duggars and their supporters have very deliberately marketed them as a perfect family—or if not perfect, at least pure, and in particular, sexually pure.

The first episode of their “reality” television show aired in 2008, two years after the police interviewed family members about the sexual assaults that had taken place in 2002 and 2003; the statute of limitations had already run and the police could not pursue charges.

In 2010, the Family Research Council, Josh’s future employer, gave Jim Bob and Michelle the “Pro-Family Entertainment” award, describing the family as “outspoken ambassadors for Christian values in a secular world.”

On their television program in 2009, Josh Duggar was portrayed as devoting himself to a “courtship” with his future wife Anna, rather than dating, which was derided as part of the “divorce culture:”

Tonight, Anna described her husband to People as “someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended.”

This week, a recap of their television show on their blog discussed how Jim Bob and Michelle “encourage their kids to take a chaperone along on all their dates so they have someone to keep them accountable and ensure that they stick to their courtship standards.” In their family, they police sex outside of marriage. In politics they police sex between consenting adults, sex between people of the same sex; they are “pure” and “godly” because they police and condemn other people’s sexual lives. But now the public knows that this family which enforces “purity” has covered up the sexual predations—against children, even their own children— of their star son.

The Duggars haven’t shied away from “protecting” children in other contexts. As Right Wing Watchreports, last year Josh Duggar “led a successful campaign to defeat a LGBT nondiscrimination measure in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which he said jeopardized the safety of children,” and that his mother “also ran a robocall pushing for the repeal of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which she warned would empower ‘child predators’ to threaten ‘the safety and innocence of a child.’”

The Duggars are no ordinary spokespeople for the religious right; they are super-spokespeople. For years, they have been held up as exemplars of biblical living, of devotion to Christ, and of, especially, homespun honest living and sexual purity. It’s long been obvious to many that this is a product of marketing and packaging, not reality. But now no one can pretend anymore.

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It had to happen – sooner or later – that a publicist for conservative evangelical family morality would become less than believable in protestations of sexual propriety in their own family life.

This unfortunate revelation of family sexual impropriety has burst upon an unsuspecting public in the United States of America, where Republican-style evangelical broadcasters are often the fiercest critics of what they see as sexual immorality: in their book, the most heinous sin in present-day public and family life.

The fact of life they most neglect to factor into their harsh criticism of other people lies in their refusal to acknowledge the complexity of human sexual responses that, if not adequately understood and dealt with, can spoil the quality of life – not only for those who act outside their own religious code of ethics, but also for the victims that inevitably suffer from the propagation of prejudices that arise from ignorance of the facts.

In their haste to defend what they see as the ‘sanctity of marriage’ – especially in regard to the inapplicability of sexual relationships outside of marriage – this family has never resiled from publicly supporting these aims, despite the fact that one of their own family (who also supports the sexual purity code) has been proven to fall short of the professed degree of  purity required of the Duggars Family Crusade on broadcast television.

“All have sinned and fallen short” ought to be the public admission of any Christian who seeks to set other people on the path of moral sexual purity. Perhaps a broadcast public admission of their own family’s failure to measure up to their own code of conduct might help their audiences to better understand the problems associated with a mistaken proclamation of personal exemption from ‘sins of the flesh’ – to which we are all putative heirs, by virtue of our being human.

Jesu, mercy; Mary, pray!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Irish Electorate Affirms Equal Marriage for Same-sex Couples

Irish people vote Yes in referendum on marriage equality

Results received at the Central Count Centre for the referendum on the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015.

Turnout 60.52
Yes/Tá 62.07%
No/Níl 37.93%

Latest Summary – national position
Electorate: 3,221,681
Total poll: 1,949,725
Percentage turnout: 60.52%
Invalid ballot papers: 13,818
Valid poll: 1,935,907
Votes in favour: 1,201,607
Votes against: 734,300

Detailed results by constituency are available here.

The exact wording of the referendum question is explained fully here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 23 May 2015 at 11:06pm BST

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Thanks to Simon Sarmiento of ‘Thinking Anglicans’ for this breakdown on voting in the Irish Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage.

Both the Church of Ireland (Anglican) and the Roman Catholic Churches continue to insist that their respective understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage – able to be solemnised in church – will remain available to two people of the opposite gender only.

However, both Churches are asking their members to behave charitably towards those same-sex marriages that have now been overwhelmingly approved of by the Irish referendum.

Here is the official Church of Ireland statement, to that effect:

“We now sincerely urge a spirit of public generosity, both from those for whom the result of the referendum represents triumph, and from those for whom it signifies disaster.”

However, the C. of I.’s stance on heterosexual marriage, as the only form of marriage to be celebrated in its churches, is enunciated clearly in this statement:

“The church has often existed, in history, with different views from those adopted by the state, and has sought to live with both conviction and good relationships with the civil authorities and communities in which it is set. Marriage services taking place in a Church of Ireland church, or conducted by a minister of the Church of Ireland may – in compliance with church teaching, liturgy and canon law – continue to celebrate only marriage between a man and a woman.”

One wonders what might happen to the Church’s attitude, on the ground and in the local parish, to a couple in the congregation who be disposed to avail themselves of the legal access to Civil Marriage? It would seem, from the overwhelming public YES vote, that most Church people may, in fact, not treat them any differently from any other loving, faithful, marriage-related couple in the Church.

(I find it most interesting that the Republic of Ireland, a predominantly Roman Catholic country, should be the first in the world to affirm Same-Sex Marriage for its citizens!)

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Overdue Beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero

300,000 expected for beatification of Oscar Romero in San Salvador
22 May 2015 06:00 by Francis McDonagh

Some 300,000 people are expected to witness Saturday’s beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero, whose elevation to the altars has been pushed by Pope Francis.

Ceremonies were due to start on Friday evening with a torchlight procession through the streets of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, and a Mass celebrated by the Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, chairman of the Pope’s “C9” Council of Cardinals. This was to be followed by a vigil until 5.00 a.m. on Saturday.

The beatification itself will take place during a Mass in Salvador del Mundo (Saviour of the World) Square starting at 10 a.m. local time (16.00 hours GMT), at which the Pope’s representative, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will read the official decree. You can watch the beatification livehere.

Romero, the late Archbishop of San Salvador, was a fearless defender of the poor. He was assassinated by a right-wing death squad while celebrating Mass in 1980 as his country began to descend into civil war.

At a press conference in San Salvador on Monday, church spokesman Mgr Rafael Urrutia said that among the 300,000 people expected to attend were seven cardinals, 90 bishops – including all the Salvadoran hierarchy – and more than 1,000 priests. Also expected are seven heads of state, including the Presidents of Ecuador and Panama. The bishops of England and Wales will be represented by John Rawsthorne, emeritus bishop of Hallam.

From San Salvador, Julian Filochowski, director of the Romero Trust, told The Tablet: “There is a great sense of excitement at what will be an unprecedented event in Salvadoran history, but worry too that the organisation in San Salvador may struggle to cope with a huge influx of pilgrims from the countryside and neighbouring countries.”

Mr Filochowski also referred to concern that local presentations of Romero by the Church and local media “portray a tepid, bland and watered-down version of Romero rather than the martyr for justice”. A particular target for criticism has been the slogan that appears on the official publicity for the beatification, “Romero, martyr for love”. However another official poster adds: “For the poor, for justice, for his people, for the Church, for Jesus Christ”.

But the current archbishop of San Salvador, Archbishop José Luis Escobar, insisted that the beatification “marks a path, establishes a route for living the faith. So when Archbishop Romero is beatified, he is beatified with his doctrine, with his teaching and he becomes a light, a torch to guide the path of the Church… It is important, not only because he is El Salvador’s first Blessed, but also because of Archbishop Romero’s greatness and his example, not just to follow his teaching theoretically but to put it into practice.”

Among initiatives being organised to commemorate the beatification are Romero “wallpaper” for computers and smart phones and a play, Romero – Path of Justice, which is to be performed in a local theatre and in the chapel of the Divine Providence Hospital, where Romero was murdered.

Relatives and people who knew Romero in his hometown of Ciudad Barrios and in his later posting to the eastern town of San Miguel have been interviewed in local media. Former shoeshine boys in San Miguel, who were beaten by their keepers and forced to sleep in the park, have told how Romero formed them into an association, with official identification, which helped to end the beatings. He later built a hostel and a school for them.

Watch the beatification live here.

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There can be little doubt that the Beatification of San Salvadorian Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was killed at the altar by a death squad, while celebrating Mass in 1980, when his country was on the verge of civil war, proved popular with most Salvadorians.

His willingness to die in the cause of justice for the poor and marginalised was evident from one of his final utterances, two weeks before he died:

”  In an interview two weeks before his assassination, he said, “I have frequently been threatened with death … Martyrdom is a great gift from God that I do not believe I have earned. But if God accepts the sacrifice of my life then may my blood be the seed of liberty and a sign of the hope that will soon become a reality … A bishop will die, but the Church of God – the people – will never die.”

Such a dedication to the cause of justice is surely one of the great parameters of sainthood in the Church Universal, and as such, is recognised by Christians around the world as being worthy of universal recognition. The political overtones of Archbishop Romero’s ministry among the people of his country have too long militated against his recognition, today,  as one of the Church’s true martyrs up until this point in time.

However, with a former South American prelate, Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina, as the present Roman Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, it seems right and good that he should be the Pope that authorises the Beatification of this outstanding Catholic Archbishop among the ranks of Martyrs of the Church. 

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Pope Francis in Favour of Women’s Voices in The Catholic Church

Women deacons could solve Pope’s conundrum
22 May 2015 by Michael Phelan

St Olympias

Speaking to an international group of women and men religious last Saturday, Pope Francis said that the Church needed women’s voices, input, and experiences. He went on to say that although women could be appointed as heads of some offices of the Vatican curia, that would not be enough to “recover the role” that women should have in the Catholic Church. What was important was ensuring that women had a voice and are listened to because the Church needs their specific richer, stronger, and intuitive contributions. He said, as he has before, that the Church needed the “feminine genius”. Nevertheless, so far there has been little evidence of any such real progress for women as advocates or officials in the Church.

Might I suggest that suitable Religious and lay women who are given vocal and official roles in the Church be ordained like men to the permanent diaconate – with its three-fold ministry of the Sanctuary, the Word, and charity. For those conservative male clerics who might be worried about ordaining women to the permanent diaconate, this would not necessarily be a “slippery slope to women priests” because the contemporary restored ordained diaconate is permanent.

There were many women deacons or deaconesses during the first millennium, particularly in the Eastern part of the Catholic Church. Women deacons are mentioned in Scripture or were canonised like St Olympias (pictured), who I included in the litany of the saints in my own diaconal ordination. The ancient diaconate of women had all the elements of an authentic sacrament – imposition of hands by the bishop with the invocation of the Holy Spirit, investiture with the diaconal stole and so on. The only difference in the ancient roles of women and men deacons was that only women could prepare women catechumens for joining the Church, as only women could anoint and immerse women at baptism, for which catechumens had to strip totally.

Michael Phelan is a retired Permanent Deacon in the diocese of Northampton and a trustee of The Tablet

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The author of this ‘Tablet’ article, The Reverend Michael Phelan, is a Permanent Deacon in the English Roman Catholic Church, who endorses Pope Francis’ call for a greater role for the voice and ministry of women in the world-wide Roman Catholic Church.

Deacon Michael says this:

“For those conservative male clerics who might be worried about ordaining women to the permanent diaconate, this would not necessarily be a “slippery slope to women priests” because the contemporary restored ordained diaconate is permanent.”

Acknowledging that the Permanent Diaconate has it’s very own provenance in the history of the Church, Deacon Michael reminds the Church that Women Deacons are not only in evidence in the Scriptures, but were also part of the ongoing life of the Church in its early historical life.

Although Deacon Michael assures his ‘conservative male clerical’ friends in the Roman Catholic Church that the ordination of Women Deacon need not be the first step of a ‘slippery slope to women priests’, it would at least give the Roman Catholic Church an opportunity to experience the ministry of Women in a more authoritative role than is at present possible.

The current situation is that, in parishes where male priests are thin on the ground, Nuns – and, in some parishes, other women – are already being given the responsibility of administering the sacrament of Holy Communion to parishioners, within the context of ‘extended Communion’ liturgies, where a full Eucharistic Rite cannot be celebrated because of the absence of a (male) priest to preside at the Mass. This practice already begs the question of whether, or not, a woman might conceivably be authorised by the Church to actually preside at the celebration of the Mass.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Former Irish President Back Equal Marriage in Referendum

Go Ireland. Go! Go! Go!

Comments

  1. I loved the video of Mary McAleese, former Irish President, affirming the need to vote YES in the Irish Referendum on Equal Marriage. Her insistence on voting to allow S/S/ Civil Marriage is based on intimate knowledge of having a Gay son. She points to the fact that the referendum is not asking for the blessing of the Church on such relationships, although she, as a Catholic, believes that the Church needs to repent of institutional homophobia. And she is surely right.

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