|Cottage where our family lived, Coolkerry, Rathdowney, County Laois|
..."But Ireland is no longer Catholic first and last. Pope Francis will meet a radically changed nation when his plane touches down in August 2018. The intervening decades have seen Ireland grow increasingly secular.
Mass attendance is in freefall and vocations have collapsed. Referenda have led to divorce and same-sex marriage legislation, despite resistance from the bishops. Inevitably, Irish bishops will seek to instruct the electorate on matters of conscience once again when the flawed Eighth Amendment blocking abortion goes - eventually - before the people. The hierarchy is slow to accept its lost authority, thrown away not just by clerical child abuse but the sinfulness of persistent cover-up."
Bridget Mary's Response
From the perspective of an Irish born woman, originally from Rathdowney, County Laois, I agree with Martina Devlin's analysis. The Ireland I knew as a small child in the 1950's was Catholic before all else, the Ireland of today no longer puts the institutional church on a pedestal. The sex abuse scandals and their coverup are largely to blame as well the Vatican's failure to treat women as equal members of the church.
I believe that women priests in a non-clerical, inclusive community of equals model of church will help to heal the serious wound of sexism that has devastated the institutional church. My hope is that Pope Francis decides on women deacons as a first step toward the full equality of women. The international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement ordains women as a act of prophetic obedience to the Spirit to bring justice to the church. We welcome all to the Eucharist in our inclusive grassroots communities. I will be in Ireland in Aug. 2018 and would love to meet with individuals and groups interesting in pioneering this movement in Ireland. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, 703-505-0004
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, www.arcwp.org