Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ireland is running out of male priests: It is time for Roman Catholic Womenpriests

Clergy in crisis: Forget Father Ted... Ireland is running out of
> *...*
> Independent - London,England,UK
> By David McKittrick When the *Catholic* Archbishop of Dublin,
> Diarmuid Martin, solemnly *ordained* this year's crop of new
> priests in his diocese last month, *...*
> See all stories on this topic

It is time for Roman Catholic Womenpriests in Ireland. At this threshold of both hope and anxiety in Ireland, we can reclaim our wisdom fgures from our ancient Celtic tradition as guides in this time of transformation for the Roman Catholic Church. As an Irish-born woman and Roman Catholic womanpriest, I have great passion for my faith and heritage. I wrote a book and produced several television programs on Celtic spirituality. Here is one of the insights I discovered that uplifted me and grounded me in the Celtic Christian story of faith and experience of equality in Christ.
Bishop Mel, Patrick's nephew, ordained St. Brigit of Kildare a bishop. The partnership and equality of women and men can be seen in the double monastery system. Both Brigit of Kildare and Hilda of Whitby founded monasteries in which women and men lived. Some believe that Ita's foundation in Kileevy was a mixed community. These monasteries settlements,referred to as conhospitae or double houses, included women and men, some of whom lived a celibate life while others were married couples with children, but all living as a Christian community, having dedicated their lives to Christ. All, whether married or single, were referred to by a term that translates as "religious. Thus, in this partnership model of women and men who served in priestly ministry serves as model for the renewal of priestly ministry not only in Ireland, but elsewhere as well.
According to this article, some priests, parishes and dioceses in Ireland are planning to hire the people in the community to do pastoral work. This is an important step forward from a clergy dominated model of church to a people empowered community of believers.
However, according to the canon law of the church, all decision making is reseved to the clergy. Therefore,unless there is structural change in the church, these pastoral workers will not be on an equal footing with the parish priest or bishop, and this can result in dismissal and firings at the whim of the clergy in charge.
This has been the unfortunate experience of pastoral ministers in the United States. Approximately 80% of pastoral work is performed by women in the United States.
Roman Catholic Womenpriests believe that we must have an equal playing field in the service of the community. Our vision and practice incorporate the people in our communities as equals. We are called to serve with the people in a community of equals modeled on example of Jesus who called women and men to be disciples and equals. The institutional church must move from a power over model, a dominator model to an empowerment model where we have a truly empowered community working together in a collaborative effort to celebrate the Christ Presence in our midst.Roman Catholic Womenpriests are offering the church a renewed model of priestly ministry that is rooted in partnership and equality-- similar in vision to early Celtic Christian model of a Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered community in the local church.
For more information about the role that women played in early Celtic Christianity, read my book, Praying with Celtic Holy Women available online on or email me at
Bridget Mary Meehan ( I was born in Laois County, Ireland and lived there until I was eight years old. Our family has returned often to visit our relatives.)

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