The Church is still stuck in “19th century mode” on the issue of women

— Mary McAleese says.

Mary McAleese

By James Wilson

Three years ago, the Vatican started a synodal process to “provide an opportunity for the entire People of God to discern together how to move forward on the path towards being a more synodal Church.”

In October, the findings will be discussed in Rome and the role of women is expected to feature prominently.

On The Pat Kenny Show, the former president predicted there would be little change in relation to the role of women in Church which she said “still inhabits that old world” in relation to matters of gender.

“Not that terribly long ago – probably a century ago – you would have found all sorts of reasons why they shouldn’t be, couldn’t be and can’t be lawyers, doctors, politicians when they hadn’t the right to vote,” she said.

“But those were all broken down – every one of those arguments was bogus.

“They were nonsensical, they were gender based and rubbish and they were all eventually broken down under the sheer weight of the fact that they were rubbish.”

Pope Francis at litergy.

Dr McAleese said the Church’s stance on women stands in contrast to the views of many Catholics around the world – particularly when it comes to the issue of women priests.

“Even though consultation all around the world showed that the people of God – the laity in particular – wanted change in relation to leadership roles for women, decision making roles for women, access to the diaconate and ordination … regrettably what has happened is that we now have, essentially, paralysis on that,” she said.

“The issue of leadership of women in the Church has been off the synodal agenda and sent off to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith for them to prepare a report.

“Which means it’s back in the hands of a bunch of men again – clerical men – who will then advise the Pope on the future leadership roles of women in the Church.”

The funeral of a priest, Holy Cross, Ardoyne, Belfast.

The funeral of a priest, Holy Cross, Ardoyne, Belfast. (Dermot Blackburn / Alamy Stock Photo)

Dr McAleese, who obtained a doctorate in canon law after her presidency, said the Pope’s own views mean the status quo is likely to prevail on the issue of ordination of women.

“Regrettably, the Pope himself in an interview just a few weeks ago with an American television channel, he ruled out the… ordained priesthood for women,” she said.

“So, he’s already made up his mind on those issues and I presume what the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith will do is simply give him a document that flatters the opinion that he already has – which is what we already have… The Church is regrettably in that 19th century mode.

“Everything that is said about women and priesthood sounds terribly like the reasons why women weren’t allowed to be students at Trinity College 100 years ago.”

Priests in St Peter's Square
Beatification of Pope John Paul II on St. Peter’s Square.

Dr McAleese said that, while many westerners disagree with the status quo, the retention of the ban on women priests would delight the many Catholics who still hold more conservative ideals about the role of women. 

“The Church is dying in the liberal western world where women’s issues have consumed a huge amount of political dynamism,” she said.

“But in the very conservative global south where the Church is flourishing, the seminaries are full, this document [that will be published] in October shows quite clearly the influence of the global south.

“Quite frankly, the global south has won out.”

In 2021, 69% of people in Ireland ticked a box in the census identifying themselves as Roman Catholics.

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Catholic Church split on women deacons, Vatican document shows

Pope Francis holds rosary beads as he presides over the closing Mass at the end of the Synod of Bishops in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, October 29, 2023.


The global Catholic Church is split on whether to allow women to serve as deacons, a Vatican document showed on Tuesday, just weeks after Pope Francis ruled out any opening on the issue.

Giving women a greater role in the male-dominated Church is one of the issues up for the debate at a summit of bishops known as the synod.

An initial, inconclusive session was held last year. On Tuesday, the Vatican released a working document due to inform discussions at a second and final session in October.

“While some local Churches call for women to be admitted to the diaconal ministry, others reiterate their opposition,” it said.

Noting that women deacons will not be on the synod’s agenda, it said “theological reflection (on the issue) should continue, on an appropriate timescale and in the appropriate ways”.

Priestly celibacy – another contentious area for potential reform – was not mentioned, while the document said African bishops are studying “the theological and pastoral implications of polygamy for the Church in Africa.”

The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) will report on these issues at the October meeting, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, told a press conference.


Deacons, like priests, are ordained ministers and, as in the priesthood, must be men in today’s Church. Women deacons existed in early Christianity, but it is unclear what role they had.

Contemporary deacons may not celebrate Mass, but they may preach, teach in the name of the Church, baptise and conduct wedding, wake and funeral services and even run a parish.

The Vatican document stressed the need to “give fuller recognition” to women in the Church, saying that “by virtue of Baptism, they enjoy full equality”.

In an interview with the “60 Minutes” programme of U.S. broadcaster CBS recorded in April and aired in May, Francis responded with a flat “no” when asked if he was open to women deacons.

But he added that women were often playing deacon-like roles, without formally having that title. “Women are of great service as women, not as ministers,” he said.

Asked about the pope’s remarks, Cardinal Grech said: “As of now, it is a ‘no’ (to women deacons), but at the same time the Holy Father has said that the theological reflection and study must continue. For me this is not a contradiction.”


Known as “Instrumentum laboris”, the document was presented after consultations with national bishops’ conferences, theologians, Catholic institutions and associations from around the world.

Turning to another hot-button issue, the text did not include any specific references to LGBT people, but called for more inclusivity.

“A need emerges in all continents concerning people who, for different reasons, are or feel excluded or on the margins of the ecclesiastical community or who struggle to find full recognition of their dignity and gifts within it,” it said.

It also acknowledged calls for greater transparency and accountability of Church leaders, and greater involvement of lay Catholics in Church affairs, including in response to sex abuse and financial scandals, and on pastoral matters.

Complete Article HERE!

Vatican excommunicates Archbishop Viganò for refusing to recognize Pope Francis

— In a rare trial, the Vatican acted against Carlo Maria Viganò, a former ambassador to the U.S. and one of Pope Francis’s most vociferous internal critics.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, then the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, blesses the altar at the start of mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on March 24, 2016, in Washington.

By and 

The Vatican on Friday excommunicated Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, exacting a severe punishment on the most vociferous internal critic of Pope Francis for refusing to recognize the authority of the pope and liberal reforms made by the Roman Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

Such drastic steps are exceedingly rare in the church and illustrated the extent to which Viganò — the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States — is perceived to have crossed a line. He has called on the pope to resign and excoriated him in harsh terms, including calling him “a servant of Satan.”

Viganò’s punishment suggests that Francis, who has faced conservative criticism since early in his papacy, may be losing patience with his sharpest critics in the church hierarchy who have challenged his papal authority in sometimes shocking and irreverent terms. It is also an indication of how Viganò has morphed over the years from a being a critic of the pope and the church’s shortcomings on dealing with clerical abuse into a fringe conservative firebrand who has embraced conspiracy theories and recently retweeted a post from Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), claiming that “the covid vaccines are killing people.”

The Vatican’s decision came after its disciplinary body, the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, had issued a formal decree June 20, assigning the senior cleric to a penal canon trial for the “crime of schism” and “denial of the legitimacy of Pope Francis.”

“His public statements manifesting his refusal to recognize and submit to the Supreme Pontiff, his rejection of communion with the members of the Church subject to him, and of the legitimacy and magisterial authority of the Second Vatican Council are well known,” the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith said in statement. “At the conclusion of the penal process, the Most Reverend Carlo Maria Viganò was found guilty of the reserved delict of schism.”

The summary judgment by the Vatican can only be undone by a ruling of the pope or the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith acting in his name. The excommunication means that Viganò cannot officially accept Catholic sacraments including Communion, ordain priests or officiate Mass.

He does not immediately lose his clerical title, though such a step — known as defrocking — could follow if he is deemed to be unrepentant, experts say. In 2006, for instance, the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI excommunicated Emmanuel Milingo, a Zambian archbishop, who married a South Korean woman in a ceremony inside the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon, conducted unauthorized exorcisms and established a movement for married priests. Three years later, he was defrocked.< That step was probably not taken now “in the hopes that [Viganò] may repent,” said Davide Cito, a canon lawyer and deputy rector at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. For Viganò, repentance, at least for now, seems unlikely. The 83-year old Italian prelate did not even appear at his own trial, arguing that he did not recognize the authority of Francis or the Vatican officials under him to hold him accountable. On Friday, he posted on X that, as he does every month, he would say Mass for supporters in defiance of the Vatican’s ruling. He also called for “donations” to his Exsurge Domine foundation, which is offering “traditional training” to six seminarians, he said.

The crime of schism is defined as a rupture with the church’s “unity” under the pope. The Vatican cited Viganò’s public statements that have “resulted in a denial of the elements necessary to maintain communion with the Catholic Church,” as well as his rejection of Francis’s “legitimacy” and the reforms laid out by the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s.

Though church codes require clerical fealty, Francis has largely tolerated dissent for years. That, however, has begun to change, especially since the pope’s appointment last year of Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández — a fellow Argentine and a longtime ally of Francis — as the new head of the Vatican’s disciplinary arm.

Since Fernandez’s appointment last summer, the Holy See has acted more swiftly to defend the pope. A major Francis critic, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Tex., was stripped of his diocese, while another longtime critic, American Cardinal Raymond Burke, lost his pension and Rome apartment.

Among the pope’s critics, though, Viganò was in a league of his own.

He was recalled as U.S. ambassador, or apostolic nuncio, in 2016 amid allegations that he’d gotten caught up in the political fight against same-sex marriage. Two years later, he made headlines with a bombshell letter that latched on to a vulnerability of the church — its record of dealing with sexual abuse cases — to accuse Francis of misconduct. Francis, he asserted, had ignored early warnings about Cardinal Theodore McCar­rick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who had just resigned from the College of Cardinals.

Three weeks before the Vatican announced Viganò’s trial, he published fresh allegations on X claiming that Francis had committed the “same abuses” as McCar­rick when serving in a senior church position in Argentina. He again offered no evidence.

Viganò appeared to escalate his missives after a December ruling, authorized by Francis, allowing Catholic priests to conduct short blessings of people in same-sex relationships. He referenced the ruling in his lengthy response to the trial, writing, “Bergoglio authorizes the blessing of same-sex couples and imposes on the faithful the acceptance of homosexualism, while covering up the scandals of his protégés and promoting them to the highest positions of responsibility.”

Complete Article HERE!

Rome Takes Historic Step Towards ‘Full Communion’ with Conservative Anglicans

— Groundbreaking agreement will include only those Anglican dioceses that do not ‘ordain’ female priests.

By Jules Gomes

The Vatican is taking historic strides towards achieving “full communion” with Anglicans who do not ordain female priests. It is doing so by recognizing Anglican holy orders and churches, but not requiring them to merge with or convert to Roman Catholicism.

“We are scheduled to begin our talks at the Vatican this coming September 26-27,” Bishop Ray Sutton, presiding bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church in the U.S., announced in an Ecumenical Relations Task Force Report of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) College of Bishops.

The ACNA bishops, who oversee 128,000 Anglicans in more than 1,000 congregations across Canada, Mexico, and the United States, met during a provincial council from June 20-25 at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Secret Vatican Meeting

The report reveals that Archbishop Foley Beach, who was then the primate of ACNA; Bishop Eric Menees, the chair of dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church; and Bishop Sutton flew to the Vatican for meetings at the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) in June 2023.

The Anglican bishops held talks with Catholic Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, who was then the adjunct secretary of the DDF, and his assistant, Fr. Andrew Liaugminas, who is seconded to the DDF by the archdiocese of Chicago.

In an unprecedented move, the process of Anglican-Roman Catholic union is being led by the DDF — the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog — instead of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, which is the Holy See’s conventional means of dialogue with Christians of other denominations.

This correspondent learned of secret meetings between ACNA bishops and top officials at the DDF earlier this year and published an exclusive news story about the historic meeting in the summer edition of Mass of Ages, the quarterly magazine of the Latin Mass Society.

Proposal to Base Union on Malta I

According to the ecumenical report obtained by The Stream, the union between Rome and orthodox Anglicans aims to be based on a Malta II proposal — a manifesto that revives the Malta I agreement reached between Pope Paul VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey, in 1966.

The Malta I agreement resolved to overcome differences between Catholics and Anglicans in matters like Petrine primacy, papal infallibility, and Mariology by ensuring that “neither Communion is tied to a positive acceptance of all the beliefs and devotional practices of the other.”

According to Malta I, unity and reciprocal acceptance of holy orders would be founded on the acknowledgment that each Communion “embraces the fundamental truths outlined in the ecumenical Creeds and the shared tradition of the ancient Church.”

“The Malta Report put forward a way to unity and communion between Rome and Anglicanism without requiring amalgamation or conversion to each other’s churches,” Sutton’s report underlined.

Liberal Anglicans Excluded

Historical events and past decrees like the papal bull Apostolicae Curae, which was issued in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII, declaring Anglican ordinations to be “absolutely null and utterly void,” are set to be reevaluated “only to the extent that they can shed light upon the facts of the present situation.” 

Bishop Sutton said that Rome’s agreement with ACNA would eventually be applied to the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GFSA)/Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), an association of conservative Anglicans in the non-Western world.

However, the process of working toward unity would not include “the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, or the Episcopal Church,” (Anglican bodies that ordain female priests and bishops), Sutton emphasized.

Roman Catholic officials holding senior positions in Rome have enthusiastically welcomed the proposal for “full communion” between Rome and the ACNA.

Catholics, Anglicans Welcome Proposals

Fr. Bryan Lobo, S.J., the dean of the Faculty of Missiology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, explained to The Stream the impact the move could have on the worldwide Church.

“Anglicans form the third largest body of Christians in the world (around 80 million members) behind the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches in more than 165 countries. Today, a majority (55%) of the world’s Anglicans live in sub-Saharan Africa,” Lobo observed.

“If this bold initiative works and is then broadened as the ACNA proposal states, communion between Catholics and Anglicans in the Global South would be an overwhelming witness of the Kingdom and mutually encouraging and empowering to both churches.

“I think ecumenism should be considered as one of the primary missions of the Church. I would therefore support any initiative of the Catholic Church towards ecumenism.”

Anglicans reciprocated with messages of hope that the joint venture would succeed.

“I’m an orthodox Anglican priest, so this would change my life, as I live in formerly Catholic Spain. I would love to help local Catholics by presiding at communion and hearing confessions,” said Fr. Duane Alexander Miller, an expert in World Christianity with a doctorate from Edinburgh University.

“I think it’s a good thing that the church is looking for unity since every single denomination already prays for Christian unity,” Fr. Calvin Robinson, a media celebrity and Old Catholic priest, told The Stream. “The ACNA has become the predominantly recognized orthodox Anglican body in the U.S., and while it still has some issues to work through, as do all denominations, the fact that they are engaging with Rome shows that they are serious about providing a Catholic perspective to the Christian faith in America.

“I know ‘ecumenism’ is a dirty word to some people, and there will be a lot of doubling down from people who do not actually want a united Church,” Robinson warned. “They will say there’s already the Ordinariate. Of course, the Ordinariate offers a very particular charism for very particular demographic, but it isn’t a way to reunite the church.”

Convert Clergy Hostile to Unity

Pope Benedict XVI established ordinariates in 2009 in the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus as a means of receiving converted Anglican priests or laity into the Roman Church. Most Anglican priests were reordained unless they could prove they had been “validly” ordained as Anglicans.

Anglican clergy who converted to Catholicism and are now members of the Ordinariate responded with hostility to the proposals for communion between Rome and the ACNA.

“Surely they should just join the ordinariate, no?” Fr. Ed Tomlinson, an Anglican convert and Ordinariate priest, posted on Facebook. “During those talks they will be told to join the ordinariate — that is Rome’s offer and it won’t change.”

Fr. John Konstantin Tee, also a convert and Ordinariate priest, responded, “The traditional teaching of the Church has always been that the Church is One. It’s just some people have separated from that unity. You have two choices. You either join that Church of Oneness or you choose to remain apart from it. Ecumenism is a non-sense born from a faulty Council.”

“It already had a dividing effect on the ACNA. Groups have already left,” an Ordinariate priest and convert posted on Twitter. “Also, as was said at the time, all they did was turn the clock back 20 years. Most of the serious Anglo Catholics have gone Ordinariate or Orthodox.”

Same-Sex Blessings Stall Talks

A high-level ACNA source told The Stream that a major sticking point in the dialogue was Pope Francis’ recent pastoral declaration Fiducia Supplicans, which permits priests to offer informal and non-liturgical blessings to same-sex couples.

The dialogue ground to an abrupt halt days after the DDF issued Fiducia supplicans, with Anglicans arguing that ACNA and other orthodox Anglicans had split from the Episcopal Church in the U.S. precisely over the issue of the acceptance of homosexual unions by liberal Anglican jurisdictions.

Bishop Sutton explained the problem orthodox Anglicans had with the document:

Fiducia Supplicans has resulted in conflicting interpretations of it, as well as polarization within the Roman Church. Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops have even opposed it. The USCCB has offered a ‘sic et non’ (‘yes’ and ‘no’) and mitigating statement in response to Fiducia Supplicans. With our conciliar view of the Church, we see the failure of a Magisterium to maintain the integrity and unity of the Faith.

The ACNA report clarified that the DDF had reassured Bishop Menees that “Fiducia Supplicans is actually an attempt to “curb but not open up the practice of homosexual behavior.” The Catholic Church “still prohibits homosexual practice and by canon warns of removal from the clergy for such behavior,” it added.

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On Rome’s side, the sticking point is with Anglicans who ordain women to the priesthood and episcopate. “The door of union and mutual recognition of holy orders would remain open only for Anglican provinces that were orthodox and had not permitted the ordination of women or gay blessings/marriage,” an ACNA source confirmed.

Meanwhile, on June 13, the Vatican released a document titled “The Bishop of Rome,” which seeks to reconfigure the office of the Bishop of Rome from an absolute monarchy into a ministry of “first among equals” for the sake of ecumenical unity, The Stream reported.

“Today the Petrine ministry cannot be fully understood without this openness to dialogue with all believers in Christ,” Pope Francis affirmed in the document.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope’s reported remark on gay people ‘disappointing but not a step back’

— A London-based LGBT+ Catholic group said Francis should be ‘more careful about how he phrases things’.

Pope Francis reportedly made a derogatory comment relating to gay priests

by Aine Fox, PA

The Pope’s reported use of derogatory language about gay people has been branded “disappointing” by a London-based LGBT+ Catholic group.

Italian media reported that Pope Francis used the term “frociaggine” when answering no to a question on whether gay men should be admitted to seminaries to train for the priesthood.

The Vatican has not commented on the remark – believed to translate to an offensive slur – reported to have been made in a meeting behind closed doors earlier this month.

If it is as it has been reported it is offensive. I think it is disappointing. He should be more careful about how he phrases things, particularly in these kind of off-the-cuff remarks
— Martin Pendergast, LGBT+ Catholics Westminster

Martin Pendergast, secretary of LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council, told the PA news agency: “If it is as it has been reported it is offensive. I think it is disappointing. He should be more careful about how he phrases things, particularly in these kind of off-the-cuff remarks.

“I think he tends to use these slang words without understanding the ramifications they can have.”

But, asked whether he feels the remark will be a step back for relations for the church and its gay members, Mr Pendergast replied “certainly not” and questioned the way in which the comment had emerged from the private meeting.

He said: “I just wonder what the rationale was for whoever released this to the media – was it used to weaponise against the Pope’s more consistent LGBT+ welcoming approach?

“It would have been better to have challenged the comment within the meeting (rather than leaking it).”

Asked about the comment, a spokesman from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) said: “Echoing the consistent message of the Synod and this papacy, the Catholic Church is a place of welcome for all.”

In 2013, Pope Francis was reported to have indicated he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation, saying: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”<

In December last year he formally approved allowing priests to bless same-sex couples, as long as such blessings do not give the impression of a marriage ceremony, reversing a 2021 policy by the Vatican’s doctrine office, which barred such blessings on the grounds that God “does not and cannot bless sin”.

The Pope’s most recent reported comment came as LGBT+ Catholics Westminster marked its 25th anniversary, with a celebratory Mass on Sunday.

Bishop Paul McAleenan, who is Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and was representing Cardinal Vincent Nichols at the service, told those gathered that the church “must never be closed, it must always be a church that includes and makes room for all”.

He thanked the LGBT+ group for its “value” and “contribution to the life of the church”.

Complete Article HERE!