On Monday, a local woman protested the exclusion of women in the Catholic Church while walking in the Flora Womens’ Mini Marathon.
Before walking, Marese Skehan from Thurles delivered letters to the residences of two Archbishops, requesting that the Vatican allow women be ordained as deacons. These letters were sent to the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Browne in Dublin, and Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emly. This coincides with the Church’s decision to ordain eight married men as deacons that same day.
An estimated 40,000 women ran or walked the 10k race around Dublin on Monday, June 4. Marese hopes her actions will raise support for the increased involvement of women in the Church.
“I have tried for the past five or six years to make some progress towards my ordination, but have been met by a stone wall. I am now throwing caution to the wind. In public, the day these men are being created deacons, I want to be seen as protesting against the exclusion of women and asking in public for the gift of the Sacrament of Ordination”.
Marese has been trying to become a deacon or priest for the past six years, and has approached Bishops with this in mind, but with no result. She recalls one Bishop telling her that “he didn’t have the guts, but was all for it”, while another said “you would be excommunicated, and I would be too”. She blames this lack of action on the Vatican’s refusal to openly debate controversial topics. She gave the example of the recent censorship of Fr. Brian D’Arcy, who also questioned womens lack of involvement in the Church.
“The recent silencing of some priests by the Vatican has frozen any debate on the issue”, she says.