(Grant Boxleitner, SNN News 6) -" A Sarasota woman who identifies herself as a bishop is stirring up debate over whether women should be allowed to become priests.
Bridget Mary Meehan of Sarasota is a bishop with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. She has been pushing for gender equality in the Roman Catholic Church.
"Ordaining women priests so that the future of the church may become reality now,” said Meehan. “The full equality of women is what we're about. It's our mission."
This weekend, Meehan plans to ordain women as priests and deacons during a service of the Mary Mother of Jesus Catholic community at St. Andrew United Church of Christ.
The Roman Catholic Church does not recognize women as priests.
"The hierarchy is not ready yet they say for women priests. But we're hoping to pave the way by living gospel equality now," Meehan said.
Maureen McGill, of St. Petersburg, is one of the women who will be ordained by Meehan. She says she has become disenchanted with the church.
"If they don't have women at the table participating actively in the decision making process, how are they going to be able to make rational decisions about inclusiveness?" McGill asked.Meehan says her movement for equality goes beyond the church.
"I think the issue of justice for women in the church is very much linked to justice for women in the world and partnership and equality for all people,” said Meehan.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Venice, Billy Atwell, issued a statement saying: “The Diocese has no association with this group. The Catholic Church has no authority to confer the sacred ordination on women.”