Priests need to be 'put to pin of their collar' over exclusion of women, says McAleese

The former president says Ireland 'knows how this story ends'

Priests need to be 'put to pin of their collar' over exclusion of women, says McAleese

Mary McAleese speaking in Rome | Image via @vofwomen on Twitter

Former President Mary McAleese has said the Catholic Church needs to clarify what it is going to do to include women.

She was speaking ahead of a 'Voices of Faith' conference taking place to mark International Women's Day.

The conference was due to be held in The Vatican itself, but was moved to Rome after Mrs McAleese was blocked from speaking at it.

The event brings Catholic women from across the globe together to share experiences and create dialogue with leaders.

Speaking in Rome ahead of the conference, Mrs McAleese said: "Our pope tells us that the issue of women priests is off the agenda - so my answer to that is 'fine, if it's off the agenda let's talk about what then should be on the agenda.'

"Because the very fact of permanently excluding women from ordination then begs the question: how then do you propose to include women effectively in decision-making since all decision-making, discernment in relation to faith formation, discernment in relation to policy and doctrine is filtered exclusively through that male clerical cast, which is the priesthood.

"So it seems to me that those who argue that women can never be priests have got now to be put to the pin of their collar - clerical collar, obviously - to explain then the radical, innovative ideas and the strategies that they are going to evolve for the effective inclusion of women in roles of leadership in the church since they cannot exercise the role of priestly ordination.

"I think over time, the arguments that are based on a so-called theology will just fall away as so many (have).

File photo

"If you look at the history of the church in relation to anti-Semitism, those arguments fell away very rapidly - particularly in the latter part of the 20th century.

"All those artificial constructs that the church had that had created theologies, that men created theologies to flatter - that so many students possibly in universities not far from here wasted their lives in evolving self-replicating and flattering arguments to sustain them - they fell away in the face of the inevitable stupidity of them.

"So to be honest, I think the arguments against women in priesthood they're going to fall away because... priesthood is falling away - in the western world, nobody's interested in this role anymore.

"Yes in Africa, yes in the poor developing countries and the hierarchical church beats its breast and tells us how wonderful it is, they've all these wonderful vocations right around the developing world.

"And I say 'I come from Ireland, we were that developing world - we know how this story ends'".