The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests has brought to Ireland its “new way of bringing about justice in the Church”.

Driving the news

The Association held a conference Saturday in the Maldron Hotel outside Dublin, as The Journal reports.

Association priest and bishop Bridget Mary Meehan spoke at the event, “on strategies to empower women on their way to justice and equality”.

Other panel members were Mary Theresa Streck, a member of the US organisation, and Angela Hanly, a theologian and author from Athlone.


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The big picture

Speaking to The Journal before the conference, Meehan said she wanted to “gather women who really want to have a serious conversation” about women’s priesthood.

“We’re looking for women who are leading inclusive communities now, who are ready to do it now, or who are already doing it now”, the bishop added.

“We want to have a conversation with them to see if it’s something that really touches their soul and fires their spirit as a new way of bringing about justice in the Church”.

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The intrigue

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is presently active in 13 countries – including in Latin America and Europe – and in 34 of the states in the US.

Meehan said theirs is a “renewed model” of Church, “and we believe it’s really more in line with the model that Jesus had because his table was always open to everyone”.

The Vatican doesn’t see it like that, though, and considers the women excommunicated, in line with its long-standing ban on women priests.

But that hasn’t stopped Meehan and her sisters in the faith.

“There were Catholics who were ready. They were sick and tired of the exclusivity of the institution”, she said of the congregation she set up in Florida soon after being ordained in 2006.

“They were tired of their friends who were divorced and remarried not finding a spiritual home in a church that they loved. They were tired of gays being treated as second class citizens and women”.

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Go deeper

Despite the Vatican veto, Meehan says she personally and other members of the Association remain “loyal members of the Church”.

As to why they insist on forging their own path, Meehan said:

“What we feel is very missing in the Roman Catholic Church is the rights of women, the equality of women, the leadership of women as spiritual equals”.

“We’re trying to really put in play here, and everywhere in the Catholic Church, a new model that welcomes everyone, that’s hospitable to everyone, that everyone finds their home there”, Bishop Meehan explained.

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