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Culture Minister calls for 'women to be ordained' after stepping up to 'say Mass' when priest didn't show

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan said that she did not read the Gospel, but led the readings from the altar.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan
Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

MINISTER FOR CULTURE Josepha Madigan has said the Catholic Church “should be ordaining women” after she stepped up to ‘say Mass’ at her local parish on Saturday when a priest failed to show up.

Madigan works on the team of the Ministry of the Word at the Church of St Therese in Mount Merrion, Dublin, and gives a reading at Mass once a month.

When she arrived at the church on Saturday evening for the 6pm Mass, she discovered that there was no priest available. A local parish priest confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the absence was caused due to a miscommunication of the monthly rota.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Madigan said that herself and two other Ministers of the Word made the decision to lead the ceremony.

Madigan said that she did not read the Gospel, but led the readings from the altar.

She went on to explain that she thinks that the Catholic Church needs to be more open with regard to ordaining women and laypeople as the numbers of priests in Ireland continues to decline.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing across Ireland at the moment where there are just insufficient numbers of priests,” Madigan told O’Rourke.

The Church to me is a pinnacle of the community and the parish and I want that to continue, but I do think that it would be helpful if the Church realised that people are still crying out for ritual and spirituality and that we need to involve laypeople more.

“It might have been better, for example, if there was training for us in a situation like that where we weren’t sure whether we could read the Gospel or not. We chose not to in the end,” she said.

“We didn’t do the collections and everybody pulled together and handled it very well, but I do think that there’s a bigger issue here. I think the church should be ordaining women, I think it should be optional that priests can marry.”

Madigan said that if she gets the opportunity, she will share her opinions on the matter with Pope Francis during his visit to Ireland in August.

Eighth Amendment

Madigan was chosen by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to lead Fine Gael’s campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment earlier this year.

When asked by O’Rourke about the Catholic Church’s stance on the matter, Madigan said that she does not view it as a “direct contradiction”.

“I’m of the view that God gave us free will, if we’re going to go down the theological route. I believe it is for everyone to make their own choice and their own decision. That’s notwithstanding the fact that abortion may not be something I would choose, that’s not to say I should make that decision for anybody else,” she said.

Nearing the end of her conversation with O’Rourke, Madigan reiterated her point that she believes the workings of the Catholic Church in Ireland must change.

“The Church is about the people, ultimately, and people are crying out for spirituality and they really want guidance in relation to that, but we’re not going to be able to sustain the number of priests around the number of priests around the country, we need to change things.”

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