Cashel & Emly priest speaks out against new church body that excludes women

“Slap in the face” to women doing tremendous work in parishes all over the diocese

Thurles Cathedral

Thurles Cathedral

A parish priest in the diocese of Cashel & Emly has opposed the introduction of a Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese because it will exclude women.

Fr. Roy Donovan, Parish Priest in Caherconlish/ Caherline in the Limerick part of the diocese, said to bring in a male only Permanent Diaconate was a “slap in the face” to women who were doing tremendous work for the church in parishes all over the diocese.

A native of Galbally, Fr. Donovan said having an all male diaconate was wrong and should not be introduced in Cashel & Emly on that basis.

Fr Roy Donovan

Fr Roy Donovan

Fr. Donovan spoke out prior to the establishment of a group , both lay and clerical, established by Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, and to be chaired by Fr. Tom Fogarty to examine all aspects of the proposed Permanent Diaconate for Cashel & Emly.

The group is expected to begin its work this autumn.

Fr. Donovan said Permanent Diaconates introduced in up to fifteen dioceses around the county were all male and voiced his opposition to the introduction of such a structure in Cashel & Emly.

“Permanent Diaconate excludes women. Introducing the Permanent Diaconate, without women, is extending Patriarchy in the Archdiocese. What are the implications of this when already there are so many women involved on the ground, in all kinds of ministries, without been given much status and power?

“Have they not also earned their place at the top table? It has been suggested by some that one of the reasons why men get involved in the Diaconate, is that it gives a certain amount of power and status” said Fr. Donovan.

He pointed out that Pope Francis had set up a Commission in July 2016 to study the diaconate and the role of deaconesses in the early Church.

“Is this group set up by the Archbishop going to pre-empt the Commission and introduce deaconesses?! Allowing a male only diaconate further questions the nature of relationships priests have with their mothers, sisters and nieces. It also questions the nature of relationships priests have with women.” said Fr. Donovan.

Fr. Donovan said there were women in the Archdiocese who believe they are called by God to be priests such as Marese Skeehan (Thurles) and Noirin Ni Riain (Murroe & native of Caherconlish) who was recently ordained as a minster in the One Spirit Inter Faith Seminary Foundation.

“We have a long way to go to implement the originality of the Gospel of Jesus –a ministry of equals among equals. After all, Mary Magdalene, known as the Apostle to the Apostles, was the first minister of the good news – proclaiming that Jesus is alive.” said Fr.Donovan.