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Boycott a wake-up call for Catholic Church

Jennifer Sleeman's call for women to boycott Mass on September 26 should give all Catholics food for thought on the subject of how women are treated by, and within, their church.

The Vatican has made it clear that anyone who ordains a woman will be guilty of a grave sin, but it failed to elaborate as to whether the offence would be greater or lesser in the eyes of God or the church than the sin of child abuse; or the presumably sinful practice of moving clerical abusers to different parishes instead of standing up for their victims.

One thinks also of the grief and trauma inflicted in the past on thousands of women, mothers whose babies were refused the dignity of a church-approved burial because they hadn't been baptised. Their innocent souls, the church had people believing for centuries, were lost in limbo and could never see the light of God.

The bones of many of those "limbo babies" lie under stones or in unmarked graves all over Ireland, thanks to that cruel teaching that the church, thankfully, has ditched.

The Vatican "decommissioned" limbo only after many years of pleading and petitioning from groups around the world.

The involvement of women as Eucharistic ministers in the church might be seen as a step towards equal status, especially as women were long denied the sacrament of communion for up to six weeks after giving birth -- to prevent defilement of the Blessed Host.

Women also are allowed to join pastoral councils, but these tend to be mere extensions of clerical power, rubber-stamping the wishes and decisions of the local clergy.

I am aware of a case in which a woman in the midlands who had lapsed in her Mass attendance was approached by the parish priest and offered some down-to-earth advice.

He informed her that other members of the council found her non-attendance at Mass upsetting and he asked her if she wouldn't mind being seen occasionally in the chapel as this, he assured her, "would keep those auld bags quiet".

Ms Sleeman's boycott plea may serve as a much-needed, wake-up to the Catholic Church.

John Fitzgerald

Callan, Co Kilkenny

Belfast Telegraph


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