Women need bigger say in Catholic church, says cleric

WITH Pope Francis’ historic visit to Ireland last weekend, the state of the Catholic church in Ireland and how it may look in future has been under the spotlight.
Here in the Clogher Diocese, where a severe shortage of priests has forced a shake-up of how the church is run locally, the soul searching began long before the pontiff announced the trip.
Explaining to the Herald how a new model of how parishes would be ministered was emerging, Mgr Joseph McGuinness said everyone in the church had an increasing role to play. That includes women, though he feels that will always be in a lay capacity.
When asked if allowing women to become priests may help stem the current crisis, Mgr McGuinness said: “To use the cliche, we are where we are on that. The view of the Church and of the Pope is that is not a possibility.”
He added, however: “My view is that the gifts and the talents of women in the church have been very sadly under-used in the past. We need to be exploring that.
“We need to be looking very carefully at the whole issue of governance and administrative structure of the church. We need women to be involved in those just as much as men.
“I think we should be encouraging that, because otherwise we are losing out on a treasure trove of gifts which could be there in the service of the Church.
“That is something that has to be done with a sense of respect and a sense of equality.”
Mgr McGuinness continued: “Here in our diocese we already have women in positions of great responsibility, but not nearly enough.
“There are several difficulties we face here. One of them is historical and cultural. The way the church has been for so long, we need to break out of that.
“The second is the difficulty not just in the Church but in all organisations of getting women involved. Look at politics for example, there are a minority of women. Sometimes people will point to women leaders like Arlene Foster or Theresa May, but they are almost the exception that proves the rule.
“Women are underrepresented in politics, they’re underrepresented in business, in positions of responsibility and authority, and of course they’re are grossly underrepresented in the church and we need to change that.”

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