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'I think we'd all make quite good priests': Josepha Madigan responds to Archbishop's criticism

On Saturday, Culture Minister Josepha Madigan stepped up at her local church to lead prayers after a priest failed to show up.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin

Updated Jun 26th 2018, 5:55 PM

CULTURE MINISTER JOSEPHA Madigan has hit back at Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin after he accused her of being ”deeply disrespectful” to her parishioners.

On Saturday, Madigan stepped up at her local church, the Church of St Therese in Mount Merrion, Dublin, to lead prayers after a priest failed to show up. A local parish priest confirmed to that the absence was caused due to a miscommunication of the monthly rota.

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.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Madigan said that she did not read the Gospel, but led the readings from the altar.

During her conversation with O’Rourke, she suggested that the Church needs to involve more laypeople and that women should be allowed to be ordained.

Archbishop Martin suggested in a statement  that Madigan’s comments had caused parishioners of Mount Merrion “considerable distress”.

Speaking this afternoon, Madigan doubled down on what she said and called for more equality within the church.

She told journalists: “I don’t know how it’s remotely disrespectful. I’m talking about equality. If there is a shortage of priests then we’re going to have to address this – there’s not going to be any church for the next generation.

“We need women involved to be equals. I also think that existing priests should be able to marry.”

However, in his statement today, Archbishop Martin said that “there is no shortage of priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin for the celebration of Sunday Mass”.

“Comments made by Minister Josepha Madigan yesterday arising from a situation that arose in the parish of Mount Merrion at the weekend have caused parishioners of Mount Merrion considerable distress.

“Many have contacted my offices to express their hurt and upset at the Minister’s comments, as reported in the media.”

“Due to a misunderstanding, the priest assigned to Mass in the parish of Mount Merrion on Saturday evening failed to turn up. It is in no way correct to say that the Minister ‘said Mass’,” he said.

It is regrettable that Minister Madigan used this occasion to push a particular agenda. Her expressed view that a mix-up in a Dublin parish on one particular Saturday evening should lead to the universal Church changing core teachings is bizarre.

“Minister Madigan might consider listening to the voices of those people who disagree with her public comments, she might consider the hurt she has caused to parishioners who deem her actions deeply disrespectful.”

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‘The church should be ordaining women’

Speaking to O’Rourke yesterday, Madigan said that the Church, to her, “is a pinnacle of the community and the parish and I want that to continue”.

She added that she does 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.

With reporting by Cathy Lee

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