From Joe Mulvaney


 Sadly, the patriarchal Roman Catholic Institution will remain abusive, deficient and dysfunctional until the clerical suppression of women is ended. Pope Francis is right that we must say “no” to clericalism for once and for all. I hope and pray that the forthcoming Synod leads to equality, justice, respect and a better world for women worldwide.

We were all horrified at the recent French report into clerical abuse and cover up. Jean-Marc Sauvé is the President of the Commission which produced the report. He stated, “the evil that disguises itself under the garments of salvation is the worst”.

As you read this, women in Afghanistan are being abused, suppressed and denied their human rights. That awful reality is indeed “stomach churning” to quote a recent headline in the Irish Catholic over an article chastising Fr. Roy Donovan of the Association of Catholic Priests for comparing the Church with the Taliban with regard to the maltreatment of women.

At this moment, some women are being battered and abused by men poisoned with the patriarchal virus of domination, control and entitlement. That is also “stomach churning”.

At the same time, the Roman Curia and obedient bishops within the clerical club continue to proclaim their cruel policy of apartheid for women, denial of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and implacable refusal to grant equality and justice to women in the leadership, governance, teaching office and ministry of the Roman Catholic Church. This Church of 1.3 billion people has done great, good works. It is very influential and, if reformed, has tremendous potential to bring further Good News for women and men. It is true that the curial clerics do not wield guns or whips and the worst horrors of the Inquisition are in the past. However, the males with scarlet skirts and “garments of salvation” still wield undue influence over devout people and underdeveloped regions. Their honeyed denigration of women is an ongoing policy and quite insidious. They hold resolutely to the misogynistic teachings of the Ancient Fathers. It seems especially wrong and the opposite of Good News when any elite boys’ club uses religion for the suppression of women. That is all truly “stomach churning” especially when there is no clear indication that they “get it” or are prepared to listen to half the human race, many of whom are poor and vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the majority of Irish Catholics have long ago discerned that suppression of women is evil and that it is unjust to deprive the Catholic parishes of the unique talents, charisms and pastoral ministries of women. The vast majority of Irish Catholics celebrate the equality and inclusion of women in all aspects of our Republic. Sadly, a huge gap has developed between the clerics and the people in regard to the important issues of women, sexuality, governance and power sharing. Good pastoral priests, who are appalled at the clerical suppression of women, do their best to speak out but find themselves under fire from people programmed to favour a much smaller elite church in the shape of a nineteenth century cult. It is perfectly understandable that many Irish Catholics are walking away from abusive patriarchs and outdated narrative. They feel free to walk elsewhere with the Lord Jesus Christ and to work with other people to build up the Kingdom of God.

The awful abuse reports have been ongoing now for many decades. It is clear that various abuses and cover up is systemic and worldwide within the official male institution. It is ongoing since the possible root causes have not been diagnosed or admitted by the clerics in control. Lay people and expert professionals have cried out in vain for profound reform.  Obvious issues in regard to women, enforced celibacy, sexuality, patriarchy and limited psychosexual development in seminary training are all dismissed by the Roman Curia as modernist agendas or feminist ideologies which have no bearing on the ongoing pandemic of abuse of children, women, priests, homosexuals and power by a small but powerful group of clerics. While some bishops may favour the Synodal approach of Pope Francis, one wonders if many remain resistant to change and comfortable with traditional autocratic episcopal power answerable to nobody.

I hope and pray that the role of women will not be another centuries long Galileo fiasco. Hopefully, the Holy Spirit will lead the Roman Curia and supporting clerics into discernment as regards justice for women. As parents, we want to be able to pass on meaningful and relevant Good News to all. However, we know that it is not possible to evangelise today in the language of sexism, misogyny, homophobia and patriarchal monarchy. Large numbers of Catholics – without any votes – already know what needs to be done and crave that new dawn.

The big question now for all of us practising Catholics and good pastoral priests is how to avoid collusion/complicity/collaboration in the suppression of women as well as other abuses. We are deeply ashamed of our silence, fears and sheepish collaboration in the awful abuses of the last century in Ireland. In the absence of democratic power sharing via a vote for each baptized individual in every parish, minimum involvement and walking away seem like good options.

It is not beyond our pay grade as baptized Catholics to name and banish the evils of patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia and enforced celibacy even though they present to us under the “garments of salvation”. It is not beyond our pay grade to halt the suppression of women and help to bring about equality and justice for women in the Roman Catholic Church. We hope and pray for a healthy, balanced and wholesome Catholic Church working closely with all Christian Churches and other religions.

Joe Mulvaney


Similar Posts


  1. Kevin Walters says:

    Joe Mulvaney: Clerical Suppression of Women

    SUPPRESSION OF WOMEN originates from ‘The Fall’ and has manifested itself as misogyny down through the ages in all cultures, religions and different social classes of people.

    “St. John Paul II wanted to move the Church from a feeling of “Catholic guilt” in regard to sex to “Catholic appreciation” for the divine gift of the body, the complementarity of the sexes, and the language of love.”

    The reason for Catholic guilt could be described as an indoctrination of the young emanating from arrogance e.g. To have an impure thought is to commit a mortal sin etc.

    I left school at the beginning of the sixties at fifteen years of age. I knew virtually nothing about sex. I was employed by a large retailer employing about six hundred people whom 90% were female the department I worked in was all male. The denigration of women was constant while sex was the main conversation often in graphic detail as in what women want/expect while conferring on me what is expected in my behaviour if I want to be a man which possibly for some was a reflection of their own dissatisfaction/regrets/ties with married life, as in don’t settle down, go out and enjoy yourself, etc.

    When I look back, I realize that I was living out others’ life expectations (It wasn’t really me) in how I should behave. Today I feel thoroughly ashamed of myself. One could resent what these older men imparted to me but of course, they were only acting out what had originally been imparted to them.

    Education, education, and more education is the key if these cycles of cruel and misogyny attitudes are to be broken. Then the “Catholic appreciation” for the divine gift of the body, the complementarity of the sexes, and the language of love” can be embraced.

    So, the underlying problem is misogyny and we have to confront its reality in the present moment. The church needs to teach the love of God and neighbour, now today, in our brokenness, to both males and females.

    “And God said to the woman “and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over you. “

    Power (Rule over) without Love/Truth corrupts and womankind has suffered under the jackboot of man since the ‘Fall’ We see this misogyny in
    Woman is a temple built over a sewer.–Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225).

    Woman was merely man’s helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God. – Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430).

    As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence. –Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, 13th century.

    The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes. –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546).

    These examples of cruel and misogynistic remarks/attitudes go on and on throughout the ages and are unchristian, as headship was, in fact, used to justify domestic violence and tyrannical dominance. To articulate, loud, clear, in concise truth against these ingrained attitudes, of many males within the church, now and throughout the ages, is to be in harmony with these words.

    Gal 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    “They were both naked (Equal) before God the man and his wife and were not ashamed” With the ‘Fall’, equality (love, true sharing, and companionship) was lost. As God said to the woman “and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over you.”

    As in the natural order of things, it is natural to rebel against injustice and if the conflict is not resolved, in time, can lead (Push) one into anger, wrath, malice, manipulation, etc. Hence, we have the Sibyls of this world, and mankind fears her power.

    Our spiritual Fraternity cries out to equality, for acceptance (To act) in Unity of Purpose (Not to be ruled over)

    Jesus teaches (desires) healing equality in all things, from those who love Him and this equality is manifest in Unity of Purpose (to act as one.) For us as Christians the continuity of gender (Male Authority/dominance) is nullified as the sacrificial image of Christ is genderless, as it is reflected in both male and female, this truth gives Christianity the authority over all other religions to heal the divide between the sexes.

    “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

    The crowd thirsts for life, the living Word of God, Jesus will not permit favouritism (Preferentiality), before our Father in heaven, and demonstrates this to us, in a most convincing manner, those who worship in Spirit and Truth (hear God’s Will and do it) are all equal and cannot be divided by any human (Worldly) standards, based either on GENDER or family ties.

    “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

    Those who dwell on the Tree of Life (True vine), are sustained by the sap of Love/Truth (Holy Spirit) and bear fruit, in Unity of Purpose, the Will of God is singular and gender conveys no privilege. The branches, flowers (those who worship in Spirit and Truth) send forth their scent (Holy Spirit) from their essence, the sacrificial image of Christ and bear fruit.

    I see one (branch) in my mind’s eye, bearing much fruit, called #Kapiolani, I look at her, I blush, a warrior, no man in her land could match valour; Hercules would have been subdued by her. She walked into the darkness with an inner light. She slew the demons, broke the idols, exposed the lies of the sages, broke their taboos, she held her senses with a heart of love. She freed her friends, her people, she would not be a slave, she threw the ‘sacred berries’ into the lava lake. She beckons with outstretched hand, we are kin.

    # Kapiolani was a great chieftainess who lived in the Sandwich Islands at the beginning of the twentieth century. She won the cause for Christianity by openly defying the priests, of the terrible Goddess Peele. In spite of threats of vengeance, she ascended the volcano Mauuna-Loa than clambered down over a bank of cinders over 400 hundred feet high to the great lake of fire (nine miles round) Kilauea the home and haunt of the goddess and flung into the boiling lava the consecrated berries which it was a ‘sacrilege for a woman to handle’ #

    See poem by Tennyson: Kapiolani.
    Her name, Kapiʻolani meaning Rainbow or Arch of Heaven.
    The Priests of the Goddess Peele are male, as are 99% of all world religions and womankind has suffered great injustice under many of them.

    At this moment in time, we have what could be described as an opportunity of a timeless moment, that is one of a new spiritual awakening (The true Divine Mercy Image an image of Broken Man, given by our Lord Himself to His Church). So
    Is an act of humility too much to ask?

    If this act of humility were to happen, a new splendour would occur within the Church at this moment in time, as it would create a culture of honesty/humility, giving the Church the opportunity to reassess many of her on-going difficulties and also heal so many who have suffered injustice at her hands.
    See my post in the link

    Can you imagine the effect upon mankind as a whole, if the Church truly embraced females in true equality?

    The onward transformation of the human heart is an emptying (Death) of the selfhood, as in the sacrificial image of Jesus Christ a state, as “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven”.

    I have a picture on my mantelpiece of St. Mother Teresa, when I look at her in my mind’s eye, I see a veiled image of Christ, walking amongst the poor and broken, reflecting an image that is ‘neither male nor female’, to say that she is not a shepherd/ess, is surely an affront to God.

    We’ll meet under the apple tree again
    Wash away our shame
    Bath in the freshness of love anew
    The Serpent will be there too
    But he has no heart, like me and you
    His design is to divide and malign
    In envy, he would devour
    But he will have to flee
    He cannot hold water (Love/Truth) like you and me
    Once more, we would be free
    There’d be tenderness between you and me
    The apple blossom will bloom again
    As we walk without shame
    Looking with wonder, with eyes anew
    As your heart reflects mine and mine you
    Man is for woman as woman is for man
    This is our Fathers’ plan

    Father! With tongue and flame, give us unity again.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  2. Roy Donovan says:

    Joe Mulvaney: Clerical Suppression of Women…

    “WHILE the role of women in the Catholic Church is all-important, the time is not yet ripe for women’s ordination as it could lead to a schism, Cardinal Walter Kasper has warned, writes Christa Pongratz-Lippitt in the current edition of the Tablet. “We have missed out pretty badly in allowing women to play a greater role in the Church. You cannot simply exclude half of humankind,” Cardinal Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told Vatican News. Candidates for the priesthood would have to learn to meet women on an equal footing. But the Church was not yet “mature enough” for women’s ordination, he said. “That could only be agreed on by the universal world Church … which is not yet ready for it.”

    This kind of thinking raises many questions. Oh pity men if we allow women in!! It is a further example of the centuries old conditioned male thinking of those at the top of the pyramid Church? Let’s keep the oppression of women going for a few more centuries! It is too hot for us to deal with!

    It gives the impression that the institution of the Church is more important than the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus. As Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck puts it in a more fundamental way – “For people with the deep conviction of the equality of all human beings, the current approach to church ministries and access to them is factually no longer comprehensible.”

    For those like Kasper there will never be a right time for women’s ordination. They are like the politicians that Greta Turnberg castigates on climate inaction – more blah blah blah. How does Kasper know what most of the people of God on the ground think? Is this an indication that those at the top of the pyramid don’t really want to deal with the ‘red button issues’? The Holy Spirit should be allowed to address all the ‘red button issues’!

    This (Synodal Pathway) is a worrying indication that once the people of God are consulted and the process is handed over to the Bishops and Cardinals, where lay women and men have no vote, that this will be put to bed very quickly? Again, is this not an indication that men’s ordination is more important than the Holy Spirit? One wonders why are so many men at the top of the pyramid Church afraid of women?

    Also is Kasper aware of the billions of dollars that is backing up the conservative Catholic take on these issues?

  3. Sean O'Conaill says:

    Clerical Suppression of Women…

    If the ordination of women is our ‘hottest’ button, could that be because we continue to see ordination as a far greater honour than baptism, and see sacramental sacrifice as symbolically superior to actual sacrifice, the giving of ourselves daily, as so many women are doing daily, for all of us right now – and not just in our hospitals?

    Was it not Calvary that gave meaning to the Holy Thursday institution of the Eucharist, rather than the other way about – so how are we to teach the meaning of the Mass if we continue to elevate ordination and ritual sacrifice above the actual bodily sacrifices that now face all of humankind (and especially the ‘developed’ world) because of the imminence of climate catastrophe?

    An article in today’s Irish Times reveals that while young people are avid for governments to act on climate change they may well not be ready to vote for the higher taxation that this may require, or the higher initial cost of moving away from carbon-based transport – or reduction of agriculture’s dependence upon the market for meat and dairy. All of us have difficulty facing the fact that it will be actual, not ritual, sacrifice that will save us in the end.

    That is not to say that women should not be ordained. It is to say that Baptism is more important than Ordination, because Baptism honours all equally and calls all to actual sacrifice. The forwarding of that cause obliges us to look outward at the peril of humankind, and not just inward at the peril of ‘the church’.

    The ordination of women will follow the reordering of our understanding of the importance of Baptism. To make ordination the conclusive proof of women’s equal dignity in the church is to undervalue the Calvary that so many women are suffering right now, and to value ‘signage’ above what it calls us all to.

    In the upside-down pyramidal church the ‘merely baptised’ lead the church by actual sacrifice in all walks of life, and the ordained realise and justify their own calling by seeing and honouring and promoting this. We cannot evangelise the young by elevating ritual sacrifice above actual sacrifice, because to do so is to deprive the ritual of its meaning and purpose. It is the calling that God makes to all of us – to self giving – that we need to honour and explain, and women have always been better at doing that.

    How could it honour all women sufficiently to ‘elevate’ only some? It is time to repent our elevation of ordination above baptism, the root mistake of Christendom and the origin of clericalism also.

Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.