Sunday, November 24, 2019


In 1958/9, Bishop Karol Wojtyla gave a series of lectures in the Catholic University of Lublin in Poland. These formed the basis for his book Love and Responsibility published in Polish in 1960. An English translation was published in 1981, three years after Wojtyla had become Pope John Paul II.

On page 271 of the English edition, the following text appears in the course of a discussion on the sex act.
It is in the very nature of the act that the man plays the active role and takes the initiative, while the woman is a comparatively passive partner, whose function it is to accept and to experience. For the purposes of the sexual act i t is enough for her to be passive and unresisting, so much so that it may even take place without her volition while she is in a state in which she has no awareness at all of what is happening - for instance while she is asleep, or unconscious.

Note: for ease of reading, I will put this quote in bold italics where it recurs below.

In 2009, in a volume entitled Responding to the Ryan Report, edited by Tony Flannery, Seán Fagan wrote the following.
Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility published in Polish in 1960 and in English in 1981 when he was pope, tried to present romantic love in contrast to Augustine's theology, but modern Catholic women are not impressed by much of his thinking. For example, speaking of intercourse he explains that 'it is in the very nature of the act that the man plays the active role and takes the initiative, whilst the woman is a comparatively passive partner, whose function it is to accept and experience. For the purpose of the sexual act it is enough for her to be passive and unresisting, so much so that it can even take place without her volition, while she is a state in which she has no awareness at all of what is happening, for instance when she is asleep or unconscious.' Can this be Catholic Church teaching? It sounds like rape.

In 2019, Angela Hanley quoted the above paragraph in her book on Seán Fagan.

And, at an event in Trinity College on 2 November 2019, former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, quoted the original Wojtyla text, attributing it to Pope John Paul II as his view of sex and marriage and pointing out that he had been made a saint in spite of it. This is what she said, following a reference by Joan Chittester to the invisibility of women in the Catholic church.
Absolutely. Even more the invisible, deliberately made invisible, deliberately meant to stay invisible structurally. Structurally the architecture of the church is designed to create the invisibility and maintain the invisibility and the powerlessness of women. To corral us. If you just bear with me could I just read a little section from the writings of Pope John Paul ll? This is a recent pope. So we are not talking about the Dark Ages. We’re talking about a recent pope from his book “Love and Responsibility”. This is his description of marriage, of sex and marriage. This is a short thing.
'It’s the very nature of the act that the man plays the active role and takes the initiative while the woman is a comparatively passive partner whose function it is to accept and experience. For the purpose of the sexual act it is enough for her to be passive and unresisting, so much so that it can take place without her volition, while she is in a state in which she has no awareness at all of what is happening, for instance when she is asleep or unconscious.'
That is how we are treated in the church, expected to be asleep, unconscious, while men get on with doing what they have to do. And here’s the sequel to that: When Fr Seán Fagan called Pope John Paul out on that and said the obvious, he asked a question: He said: Can this really be Catholic Church teaching he said. It sounds like rape.
What happened? Pope John Paul becomes a saint. Seán Fagan becomes silenced. That’s our church.”
Well, the reactions came thick and fast, pointing out that while Wojtyla wrote the words in question, they were introducing an argument the conclusion of which was the opposite of what was being attributed to him.

In response, Mary McAleese dug in, responding on 8/11/2019 to an earlier critical letter in the Irish Times.
Sir, – Dr Thomas Finegan accuses me of shoddy scholarly treatment of Pope John Paul (Letters, November 7th).
I am afraid the accusation is more easily and accurately made of his own treatment of my use of a passage from the pope’s book Love and Responsibility. It is very clear Dr Finegan did not check the context in which I used the passage. It was explicitly stated by me that I was not talking about the sex act at all but by analogy using the passage to describe the position and role of women in the church generally, with men seen as dominant initiators and women as passive receivers. A simple and factually correct statement.
Fr Fagan correctly described the passage in its original sex act context as a description of rape. And it is clear Fr Finegan agrees that is a correct description. There is an obvious, inexorable and transferable logic that Dr Finegan has missed entirely and which was the sole point of the reference. – Yours, etc,
Co Roscommon.

Unconscious Wife

Mary McAleese wrote another response to a further letter from Dr. Finegan on 11/11/2019.
Sir, – It is the case that under common law (based on canon law) the crime of rape in many jurisdictions including Ireland was defined as non-consensual sex with a person who was not one’s spouse. The notion of marital rape did not enter our criminal law until 1990.

Surely Fr Finegan (Letters, November 9th) must accept the fact that at the time of writing Love and Responsibility in 1960 and republishing it in 1981, church teaching was that within marriage consent to sex was presumed and so the concept of marital rape was non-existent.

Fr Sean Fagan was a champion of the change that led to the redefinition of rape to include marital rape. His view did not sit well with religious authorities for even those who saw non-consensual sex in marriage as problematic to the point of sinful were opposed to extending the definition of rape to such sex within marriage.

I know of no document at that time where the Holy See suggests that non-consensual sex in marriage should be regarded as and criminalised as marital rape. That includes Love and Responsibility.

Perhaps Fr Finegan can point us to such references. Or perhaps he can agree he has this argument badly wrong. – Yours, etc,

Co Roscommon.

Karol Wojtyla

Following which Breda O'Brien wrote an op-ed in the Irish Times, recapping on the whole affair and suggesting that Mary McAleese should simply apologise for misquoting the Pope and move on.
Breda O'Brien: A simple, dignified apology from McAleese would suffice

Former president should say she never intended to imply Pope John Paul II endorsed marital rape

Sat, Nov 16, 2019

In the 1950s, a young Polish priest was lecturing in ethics at the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL), a university which not long previously had been closed by the Nazis. At the time, KUL was under severe restrictions by the Soviet regime, which loathed the university’s courage and academic independence.

The young priest developed a lively student discussion and social action group. From this and his work with young engaged and married couples a book grew, called Love and Responsibility. Written before both the Second Vatican Council and the 1960s sexual revolution, it was far ahead of its time in its frank discussion of sexuality, insisting that love definitively rules out ever using another person and that women were entitled to satisfying sex lives.

For instance, the author points out that women have more erogenous zones than men. He says that love for spouses means learning about each other’s bodies so that both can fully enjoy sexual climax. He insists that men be unselfish in sex.

However inadvertently, by citing Wojtyla in this way to make this point, McAleese attributes to the author the very opposite position to the one that he holds

The young priest was Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II. At a recent conference, Mary McAleese chose a passage from Love and Responsibility where Wojtyla states that, from a physiological point of view, a man could have sexual intercourse even if a women were asleep or unconscious. It is worth watching the former president’s delivery of this passage.

Here is the transcript: “If you’ll just bear with me, can I just read a little section from the writings of Pope John Paul II? This is a recent pope so we’re not talking about the Dark Ages, we are talking about a recent pope from his book Love and Responsibility. This is his description of marriage, of sex in marriage. It’s a short thing. “It is in the very nature of the act that the man plays the active role and takes the initiative, while the woman is a comparatively passive partner, whose function it is to accept and to experience. For the purpose of the sexual act it is enough for her to be passive and unresisting, so much so that it can even take place without her volition [gasps from the audience] while she is in a state in which she has no awareness at all of what is happening – for instance, when she is asleep or unconscious.” [More gasps] “This is how we are treated in the church, expected to be asleep or unconscious while men get on with doing what they have to do. And here is the sequel to that: when Fr Seán Fagan called Pope John Paul out on that and said the obvious, he asked a question; he said, can this really be the Catholic church teaching? He said it sounds like rape. What happened? Pope John Paul becomes a saint, Seán Fagan becomes silenced. That’s our church.”

Opposite position

However inadvertently, by citing Wojtyla in this way to make this point, McAleese attributes to the author the very opposite position to the one that he holds.

The book is widely available and speaks for itself. Mere paragraphs after the passage quoted by Dr McAleese, Wojtyla insists that intercourse should never lead to climax for the man alone, “but that climax must be reached in harmony, not at the expense of one partner, but with both partners fully involved”. It is followed by: “Love demands that the reactions of the other person, the sexual partner, be fully taken into account.” He believes the physiological aspect of sex must always be put at the service of authentic, selfless love.

When subsequenlty challenged (in the letters page of this paper) for choosing a passage taken out of context as a description of Wojtyla’s teaching on sex and marriage, McAleese declared that she has been misunderstood. She “explicitly stated” that she “was not talking about the sex act at all but by analogy using the passage to describe the position and role of women in the church generally, with men seen as dominant initiators and women as passive receivers”.


When taken to task again by Dr Tom Finegan, she suggested in a further letter that it is was due to the influence of the church’s canon law that marital rape was only criminalised in Ireland in 1990.

Why choose an extract and present it in a way that allows an inaccurate and highly damaging impression of the author’s views to be formed?

That canon law was a key causal factor seems unlikely, given that Britain, which has not been Catholic since 1536, only recognised marital rape as a crime in 1991. Be that as it may, the central question remains: when seeking an analogy for how she believes women in the church are treated, why choose an extract and present it in a way that allows an inaccurate and highly damaging impression of the author’s views to be formed?

Given her status as a highly regarded former president, theologian and university chancellor, the dignified thing for Mary McAleese to do would be to issue a simple statement along the lines of: “I never intended to imply that Karol Wojtyla endorsed marital rape and if any impression was given that he did, I am sorry.
And there the matter rests for now, I think.

I am a fan of Mary McAleese, both while she was President of Ireland and in her subsequent role as critic of the Roman Catholic Church's teaching and treatment of women and LGBT people. And I was very upset at how she got this so wrong and then dug in.

So I thought I'd check it out. I got a copy of Love and Responsibility and I have to say I agree completely with Breda O'Brien, except for her suggested wording of the apology and her assertion that the book is widely available. I had to get my copy from the far side of the country.

In his approach to sex in marriage (where else?) Wojtyla adopts a layered approach. He first sets out the purely physical situation regarding the sex act - what is physically possible. This is a neutral description of the facts and carries no emotional, moral or ethical overtones. He then applies the emotional and ethical layers leading to the conclusion that sex must be by mutual consent and never for the pleasure of one partner to the exclusion of the other. He goes on to develop this mutuality as active and far from passive.

So his view is exactly the opposite of the one attributed to him by Mary McAleese. As to the church's view at the time that is another matter. I am well familiar with the advice given in the confessional to women whose health or life itself could be at risk from another pregnancy. "Go home and do your duty."

I do not accept that Mary did not attribute the words quoted to Wojtyla's own view. Go back up and read her top and tail to the quote.

But how did she get into this position in the first place? My own feeling is that she had not read the book, or she'd have known better, but that she accepted the interpretation directly from Seán Fagan's writing, not realising he was plain wrong in this case.

So, how did Seán Fagan fall into this trap. Surely he could not take that view after reading the book. Did he then take it second hand from someone else without properly checking out the source? Unfortunately we may never know as Seán is no longer with us. As readers of this blog will know I am a big fan of Seán's. The whole thing is so sad.

It occurred to me to wonder, had Seán Fagan been confronted with his mistake, would he have dug in like Mary McAleese, or would he have apologised and moved on? I would hope the latter, but, again, we'll never know.

The Lessons

First, when you're using a quote to criticise someone, particularly such an explosive quote, make sure you go to the original source and check out the context.

Second, when you make a mistake, fess up immediately and move on. Digging in makes it harder to stop digging and you only do yourself more damage in the long run.

Saturday, November 16, 2019


Fr Bernárd Lynch
Click on any image for a larger version

It's difficult to know where to start. This was supposed to be a talk but it quickly turned into an intense experience - stimulating and provocative.


Bernárd started off with two blunt statements, which I'm sure were intended to rattle the neurons and prepare us for a very open, intimate and challenging presentation.

All religions deny God


All life is about sex except sex itself. Sex is Power

and these two themes were woven into the rest of his presentation.

Then he asks: What is faith?

and replies: Faith is hope rather than belief.

He asks: What is God?

and replies using the terms nothingness and love in the same breath.

This is challenging stuff and worthy of meditation. So stop here for a moment, an open your mind moment, a lift up your hearts moment. I could almost nearly buy into this myself.

And when you consider Bernárd's manner, measured, clear, sincere and with no side, you may get some idea of the impression he made on his audience.

It all reminded me of when I first came across John Robinson's book Honest to God in my youth. That turned a lot of stuff right upside down and made you think. It opened up the mind, took you miles away from all the prescriptive rubbish you'd been brought up on and made you wonder if there might be something worthwhile out there after all.

I'm not going to expand any further on Bernárd's divine musings. I might get lost. But you can follow his talk in this video.

I'll just recap on other more earthly aspects of his talk below, drawing also on a few outside sources.


Bernard was a closet gay priest in New York in the 1980s when the AIDS/HIV epidemic broke out, principally among gay men. It was terrifying. Nobody knew what it was, where it came from, or how you contracted it.

Those who were known to have it were shunned, some to the point of dying of starvation. You could be diagnosed with it today and be gone by the weekend. Bernárd said it was like Camus' Plague come to life.

For him it was a transformative experience. He set up a mission to those infected with the virus, as his friends and colleagues were dropping around him like flies.

He even flew back to Ireland in the summer of 1982 to tell his parents that he would be dead by the end of the year.


Lets get the Vatican out of the way at an early stage.

In 1986 Bernárd spent a year in Rome. When he arrived, there was no mission for AIDS/HIV sufferers, so he set one up. There wasn't even a mass for them to attend.

His general care and attention to sufferers did not go down well with the powers that be. And you can understand why. AIDS started out among homosexual men and Bernárd told us how, by then a "hardened" New Yorker, he was absolutely bowled over and scandalised by the sexual behaviour of the Vaticanites - escorts, prostitutes and and the rest of it, brazen and all over the place.

He said he was, therefore, not in the least surprised at anything in Martel's recent book In the Closet of the Vatican.

They clearly wanted rid of this turbulent priest, but it took them over 20 years to get there. Though he has been suspended by his Order, he still sees himself as a priest and behaves accordingly, sort of.


And, this, incredibly:
[In the late 1980s he was] doing some pastoral work at a Catholic school and after pressure from the family, the diocese and even the FBI, who were called in by Cardinal John O'Connor, Lynch faced trial in 1989 on charges of molesting one of his pupils. However, John Schaefer, the boy in question, recanted on the courtroom steps and revealed how much pressure had been put on him to come up with the allegation. Lynch was acquitted. It made international headlines.

Source (April 2012)
I can't help remarking the irony here. The Hierarchy was quick to use a civil mechanism when it suited its nefarious purpose but the Vatican won't cooperate with civil abuse inquiries when these do not suit its purpose. And, instead of reporting offenders to the authorities, the Bishops were moving them around and into fresh fields.

Bernard's take on clerical child sex abuse is an interesting one:
"a lot of the abuse of children by priests in the Church is a result and consequence of sexually arrested development in priests. It is not paedophilia, and that is not to take from the crime and the terrible harm done to children in this way. When you go into seminary at 14 or 16, you are arrested in your sexual development. From that time on, everything sexual is sin. Sex is really not integrated in the way normal boys and girls do as they grow up. And so priests stop growing sexually. And when they start growing again at the ripe old age of 50, they start off where they left off, as a 14-year-old looking for 14-year-olds."
Source (April 2012)

This background would account for one set of abusers, but of course there were others who became active almost within a wet day of their ordination, such as Morgan Costello.


Mind you, for all his concern about people and talk of love, Bernárd can be brutally frank.

His view that gays living as straights is nothing short of blasphemy, a denial of God's creation, pure and simple, is a novel angle, to me at least, and a potentially powerful advocacy slogan for LGBTQ+ acceptance.

Would that the Church, from it's Princes to its priests, got this message.

To me, an unbeliever, athiest, agnostic, or whatever you're having yourself, this is just common sense. We all saw the outpourings of love and acceptance during the equal marriage referendum, and it was this, the stories, the relationships and the courage that carried the day.


There is currently a controversy going on in these parts on the question of whether words written by Karol Wojtyla in the early 1960s meant that he condoned what would today be considered marital rape (sex with an unconscious spouse). He certainly did not consider it the ideal. He felt there should always be mutual consent. Whether or not he considered it a serious sin will have to await my reading of his book.

What cannot be denied, however, was the church's advocacy of "enforced" consent and it was this which nearly led to Bernárd quitting the priesthood shortly after his ordination.

Married women, who had borne many children and for whom any further pregnancy was ruled out on medical grounds, were coming to Bernárd in confession pleading to be allowed use contraception or refuse their husbands' demands, the latter being often impossible.

When Bernárd brought his misgivings to an older priest he was asked "What did you say to them?".

"I told them to follow their conscience and do what they thought was right".

"The church needs more priests like you" was the reply, and Bernárd stayed the course.

I am well aware of the "go home and do your duty" response of the day.

Marriage should surely never be seen by any decent man as a licence to fuck his wife to death? The man also has a duty to his wife.

Thankfully, the times they are achanging. But there's probably the odd one or two still out there.


Bernárd pulled a lot of his audience up short when he referred to priests who didn't believe in God. How could this be? Simple, they started out believing but "lost the faith" somewhere along the way. What were they to do? The priesthood is not just a vocation. It is also a career, and a job for life.

I didn't quite catch Bernárd's attitude here. I suspect he empathised at a personal level but I doubt he approved.


Bernárd joined the Society of African Missions in 1965 and he was ordained in 1971. After a spells in Northern Ireland and in Zambia, he was sent to New York in 1975 to do further studies in counselling and psychotherapy.

There he ministered with the Dignity mission to LBGTQ+ people. When AIDS came he set up the first Aids Ministry with Dignity in 1982. That was the year he came out to his parents. He also worked with the civil authorities and Mayor Koch's non-discrimination Order 50.

He lived in Rome in 1986. It was in 1989 that Cardinal O'Connor called in the FBI with the trumped up charges of child abuse.

In 1992 he came to England where he continued his LGBTQ+ missionary work. It was then that he met Billy. Their religious marriage, in 1998, was blessed by Cistercian monk (who left monastery for first time in 50 yrs to do it). They had a civil partnership in 2006 and an Irish civil marriage in 2017 following the same-sex marriage referendum.

In 2010 he was out on the streets of London, complete with clerical collar, joining in the protests during Pope Benedict XVI's visit. The following year he was suspended from the priesthood by his Order.

As Peter Stanford wrote in 2012, referring to the London protest:
For his religious order, though, it seems likely that it will also be the final straw. "I know they are having a problem. They have told me so. I am under investigation. The Vatican has already told them to get rid of me." ...

Lynch says he won't stop what he has been doing and saying, even if he loses his platform as a cleric. "A priest is a priest for people. And if people want me..." But if the Church says he is no longer a priest? "I believe that the priesthood, like my baptism, is an indelible mark on my soul, so I will always be a priest." ...

"I do feel there is need to witness to the fact that gay is good and gay belongs to God. There are millions of lesbian and gay Catholics who need a witness to the fact that their love is not evil." ...

And, in his very happy and now very public marriage to Billy Desmond, he gives the lie to the suggestion, made recently by Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of the Scottish Catholic Church, that same-sex marriage is "grotesque".

"It's my Church," he says, "and I'll be the last out after the Pope."
On November 21st he will receive the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad from fellow Clareman, Michael D. Higgins in the Áras.

I'm signing off with this photo which says so much about where we are today. A suspended homosexual married priest embracing a lady who has, for years, had her vocation to the priesthood denied to her by a corrupt, short sighted and uncaring Vatican.

Lots done, lots more to do.

Update 22/11/2019

Remarks of President Michael D Higgins at the
Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish abroad
Áras an Uachtaráin, Wednesday, 21 November 2019
May I also extend my most sincere gratitude to Bernárd Lynch for the great sense of shared humanity that has seen him reach out to LGBT people and people with HIV/AIDS in communities across two continents. During years spent in New York and London, Bernárd’s tireless effort, courage, his challenging of old preconceptions and his unrelenting commitment represents an uplifting example of how empathy harnessed to a real will to effect change can so powerfully transform the landscape for those battling discrimination and oppressive social attitudes. Bernárd’s emancipatory and life-enhancing work has helped to change perceptions of the LGBT community, creating more welcoming societies for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Miriam Gormally interviews Bernárd (10 mins) 21/11/2019

Monday, November 4, 2019


Click on any image for a larger version

The event was titled The Women the Vatican Couldn't Silence. This sounds pretty dramatic. So, who are these women and why could the Vatican (CDF) not silence them?

In chronological order there is:

Sister Joan Chittester

An American Benedictine nun with impeccable credentials, she had been invited to be one of the main speakers at the international conference in Dublin of Women’s Ordination Worldwide in June 2001.

The Vatican stepped in and told her superior to forbid her attendance, but Christine Vladimiroff was made of sterner stuff than the superiors of the Redemptorist and Marist orders of priests. She told the CDF to bugger off, politely and shrouded in appropriate religious protocols of discernment etc.

And what happened?


Sr. Joan has been campaigning on a wide front of human rights to this day.

Dr. Mary McAleese

Mary needs no introduction to an Irish audience. Formed in the cauldron of the Ardoyne (Belfast), she has been twice President of Ireland and has gone on to arm herself with a doctorate in Canon Law before seriously taking on the Vatican on a number of fronts.

She was invited to speak at a conference in the Vatican, organised by the NGO Voices of Faith when her holy passport was revoked/refused by none other than Dubliner Cardinal Farrell. The organiser, Chantal Götz, bless her, snubbed Cardinal Farrell and, quite late in the day, moved the conference to a neutral venue, out of the clutches of the Vatican, and Mary got to say her piece.

Women 2 : Vatican 0

Mary is at the top of the current event's banner (above) and Joan at the bottom.

The event itself was organised to celebrate Mary McAleese having been awarded the Alfons Auer Award for Ethics by the University of Tubingen on 30 October 2019.

Colm Holmes

There were three co-sponsors of this event, which was held in the Edmund Burke Theatre in Trinity College: We Are Church Ireland, TCD School of Religion, and Voices of Faith.

Colm, from We Are Church Ireland, was our Master of Ceremonies.

I should tell you that the event was live-streamed and, if you like, you can read no further and go straight to the video (2h20m).

Given that you now have access to the full version, I will confine myself here to commenting on a few aspects of the event which particularly resonated with me.

Prof. Siobhán Garrigan.

Siobhán, from the Trinity School of Religion, welcomed the unsilenced women, the other sponsors, and the audience, to the hallowed precincts of Trinity. She stressed the need for sound scholarship in areas of concern in the world today. The location is particularly appropriate as Mary McAleese has been named as the next Chancellor of the university.

There is also a deeper resonance in the location for me. The Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid, in his day, forbade Catholics to attend Trinity on pain of sin. Any exceptions had to be personally authorised by himself. Trinity offered to appoint a Catholic chaplain to attend to the spiritual needs of any Catholic students but the Archbishop remained steadfast. He clearly felt that the faith of his young flock was not sufficiently robust to withstand the proselytising efforts of this most Protestant institution. Needless to say increasing numbers of students defied the ban which is now irrelevant.

The Archbishop could not do here what he could in University College Dublin, where his vassal President Michael Tierney (to whom I am circuitously related) and a series of priest professors ensured that his writ ran on that campus.

Anyway, all of the above gave an edge to my pleasure in attending this event in this place.

Stephanie Lorenzo, Communications director, Voices of Faith

Stephanie told us that Voices of Faith campaigns to make women's voices heard by church leaders and to help women assert their rights in the church. She left us with the thought that "well behaved women don't make history".

As well as co-sponsoring this event you will recall that Voices also organised the conference at which Cardinal Farrell attempted to block Mary speaking.

Ursula Halligan

Ursula introduced the two women she was to interview and no better person with her background in broadcasting and more recently in advocacy.

l-r Joan, Mary, & Ursula

Just to give you an idea of the stage layout.

Mary kicked off by introducing Joan to former Provost, George Salmon, who opposed Trinity accepting women students. The phrase he used was "over my dead body", and it nearly came to that.

He died in 1904 but three years previously had a "deatbed" conversion when, facing a majority of the Board in favour of admitting women, he agreed in principle to let them in. I hate to spoil a good story.

My picture of George from way back.

If there is one strong formula for action to come from Joan it is: make your voice heard. Blitz the CDF and all its subsidiaries (bishops, nuncios et al?) with correspondence until it's coming out their ears. Make sure they know what's going on. Use all media at your disposal.

Joan was also very strong on the subject of deference. She reminded us of Pope Francis's criticism of clericalism but said that this was fueled by deference and people would just have to get out of the habit of automatically deferring to clerics of whatever status.

This reminded me of Pope Benedict's disgraceful letter to the Irish people, in March 2010, where he seemed to be spreading the blame for clerical child sex abuse as widely as possible:
a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal
I was so incensed by that letter at the time that I wrote an angry and intemperate reply which, I am sad to say, I still stand over today.

Mary picked up on the deference theme and told a story of when she was in Rome in the company of two clerics who she knew to be critical of Cardinal Law. When they met the Cardinal he proferred his ring to be kissed. Mary refused but the two clerics complied.

Some of us will remember that Mary has a history with this particular disgraced Cardinal dating from as far back as 1998: The President and the Prince.

Not a lady to be trifled with.

She really put the boot into Pope John Paul II, quoting a passage from his book, Love and Responsibility, published in 1960 just after he had been consecrated bishop:
It is the very nature of the act that the man plays the active role and takes the initiative while the woman is a comparatively passive partner whose function it is to accept and experience.

For the purpose of the sexual act it is enough for her to be passive and unresisting, so much so that it can even take place without her volition while she is in a state where she has no awareness at all of what is happening - for instance when she is asleep or unconscious.
This clearly harks back to Aquinas and the male seed being the sole progenitor of llfe. Taken at face value, it advocates, or facilitates, behaviour for which men are currently being locked up, ie rape.

[Update: It now appears that the quote above, while taken from Pope John Paul II's book, were not his own views. I have done a separate post on this controversy and made some consequential amendments to this post.]

Mary pointed to the contrast between the Pope, in spite of his writing, being made a saint, while the worthy Fr. Seán Fagan had been silenced.

I can see other reasons why JPII should not have been canonised. He protected the serial abuser, Maciel, and decreed infallibly that women could never be priests and the matter could not even be discussed.

Meanwhile, Fr. Seán Fagan questioned the origins of a male celibate priesthood and promulgated the supremacy of the truly informed conscience, even over church teaching, a view held by Ratzinger himself before les événements and the Red Brigade scared the shit out of him. Seán was silenced and his book "burned". He died with a broken heart. Shame on them.

I have long thought that the church's knee-jerk negative reaction to Martin Luther ill advised and extreme. I have a suspicion that Joan would go down some of the road with me here. She might also at least partly agree with me that the church's outright rejection of the Modernists was another mistake. I ended up reading some of their stuff by accident and thought it was the sort of thing much on the mind of today's reformers. Joan would certainly agree that Vatican II has been hijacked.

She threw out the date 1827 at us and challenged us as to its significance?

Well, that was the year of the discovery of the ovum, which blew a large hole in the Aquinas understanding of conception, revealing that the woman was not a passive vessel in the process but an equal partner in the creation of life. The implications of this clearly passed the church by and there was no excuse for its standing by Aquinas regardless.

The Q&A session was by lottery. You wrote out your question on a page originally left on your seat, these were collected and Mary & Joan pulled a few at random out of a big basket. This system was adopted because it would have been difficult to manage a roving mic in such a large crowd and the lottery also avoided any perception of bias in choosing questioners.

My question, which did not surface, concerned the Real Presence. I have come to the conclusion that the theology here is outdated both in terms of terminology & interpretation. For me it has become a litmus test of whether there is a willingness to undertake the necessary review of doctrine generally. [See my unsubmitted paper to IEC2012].

But I have only recently found out that it is one of the battery of rubbish arguments against women's ordination.

My question was really looking for a reaction to these thoughts. The CDF have certainly used belief in, or doubt about, the Real Presence in its armoury of techniques to oppress reformers.

The above is just a tiny selection from the topics covered at this most interesting event. If you have read this far and your curiosity is aroused, you might like to view the full video (2h20m).

At the end of the session there were some presentations, which included a picture of an inclusive Pentecost for Mary,

flowers for Ursula,

and a picture of an inclusive Last Supper for Joan.

Full marks to all involved in planning, organising, and presenting this event.

And finally a message from li'l ole me:
Calling all Parish Priests - if your content is sufficiently interesting the congregation will materialise.

Update: Controversy over Mary McAleese's remarks

I was certainly under the impression that Mary McAleese was attributing the views quoted to John Paul II. She referred to "a recent Pope", "his book", "his description ..." and then the implication that he had been made a saint despite these appalling views.

If she was not implying these were his views, why did she not say this is the type of attitude he had to deal with? And why the implied negative reference to his canonisation (against which I could muster other reasons)? And she says Seán Fagan called the Pope out on this and asked if it could be Catholic teaching.

Either she mis-attributed these views to JPII, in which case she should have been up front about it, or the presentation was unbelievably sloppy, and the media can hardly be blamed for misunderstanding her. This piece in the Irish Catholic gives an idea of some of the public reactions to Mary's remarks.

You can judge for yourself below, where I have reproduced, in a comment, both Mary McAleese's letter to the Irish Times "clarifying" her position, and the statement from We Are Church Ireland criticising media reporting of what she said. The statement includes a transcript of the relevant part of the event and a link to the video.

[See also my separate subsequent post on this controversy.]

Thursday, October 31, 2019


I have cousins who are good priests. When the abuse scandal broke, and even I looked a bit askance at any roman collar I passed in the street, I wrote to my cousins and told them they were the good guys. I did so because I could feel their isolation in the wave of disgust and anger that was sweeping across the whole of Ireland at the time.

So when I came across Tina Beattie's book, The Good Priest, I was burning with curiosity to get hold of a copy. How I did is a professional secret and I'm sorry to say that reading its 442 pages only provided me with a mere 24 hour distraction from the humdrum of daily life.

That's the good news and the bad news all in one go.

The good news is that, after a somewhat slow start, the book took me on a rollercoaster journey which was full of tension, and resonances from my past, and it was just unputdownable.

I can safely say that if this book had been written when I was growing up, it would not only have been banned in Ireland, but it is unlikely that I would even have been granted a certificate to import it from “pagan England” as I was in the case of numerous banned books in the mid-1960s.

I suspect it would have been seen as so outrageously fiction, and blasphemous fiction at that, that no right minded conscientious individual would let anyone near it no matter what the circumstances of the request.

Now its content could happily reside on the non-fiction shelves in any bookshop.

The world has indeed changed since my youth. We now read official reports of child abuse which would make your hair stand on end. I have cried my way through the autobiographies of men who were abused by clerics in their childhood. We are today aware of a Roman Catholic Church which is rotten at its clerical core and may not be redeemable. A far cry from my days as an altarboy basking in the glory and mystery of the mass with bells and incense and the ultimate transformative moment.

Tina has taken all these ingredients and woven them into a thriller delicately balanced somewhere between Chesterton's Father Brown and Jack the Ripper. It's all in there even down to the Cappa Magna. And it's beautifully written in a simple and engaging style.

Despite the compulsion to keep turning the pages, as the life of the Good Priest spins slowly out of control, this is a tough read. I read it as an unbeliever with suitcases full of Catholic baggage and the resonances leaped at me from almost every page.

The Good Priest is doing his best to minister to his flock. He is happy and satisfied in his ministry. Most days are humdrum. He has a family life by proxy. Tragedies occur in other people's lives and he is able to bring some consolation and mitigation by invoking God's presence and concern.

But all is not what it seems, even to him. Dark, suppressed and long forgotten, events from his past come swishing to the surface and take on a diabolical reality which makes him doubt his own sanity.

I'll stop the narrative here as we are approaching spoiler territory.

Tina Beattie

Instead, I'd like to make some general comments and evoke some of the resonances and issues arising for me out of the narrative.

I found the pace a bit slow at the beginning but just as that is beginning to strike me, up swishes the first dramatic event. On reflection, it struck me that the slower bits were probably a good thing. They allowed you to recover from the escalating dramatic shocks but they also gave an insight into the day to day humdrum life of a priest. Matters of serious concern for parishoners in their own lives may be dealt with in a more routine manner by the priest who will have acquired a series of ritual responses along the way.

Some of these low key passages also recalled for me something it took me a long time to learn. Asking people how they are and expecting a truthful response does not make you responsible for actually solving their problems. Just listening sympathetically can in itself have a healing effect.

Tina does get across that a good and well-meaning priest nevertheless has a difficult path to negotiate even at the best of times.

Wisely I think, she has resisted the temptation to make John a campaigning priest. I am sure this must have occurred to her given her own forceful involvement in church affairs. There is enough drama already squeezed in between the covers here.

Pitching the story through the eyes of the seminarian was also worthwile. The little people in these affairs are quickly forgotten or even totally ignored. A timely reminder too that you never quite know who you are dealing with in this life. And, anyway, I had no shortage of well known names coursing through my head as the story progressed and Tina generously sprinkled the scarlet confetti as she went along.

Confession (the sacramental variety) plays a crucial part in the story. I'll avoid spoilers by simply saying that Tina knows what she's at here and the various interplays are fascinating.

I have come to the view myself, as have many others before me, that the church weaponised this “sacrament” many many moons ago, and combined with its peverse views on masturbation, it has not only made many young people's lives a misery but contributed to an ongoing guilt which seemed to suit a controlling church down to this day.

And as to overhearing the confessions of others, I can tell you there's nothing to beat the shock of hearing yourself mentioned in dispatches.

It was only after I had written, and published, this post that I noticed I had not referred to either "bad language" or homosexuality. I'll take it as a compliment to the author that I had taken both in my stride when reading the book. Neither are gratuitous or prurient, as I see hinted at in a review. Both are integral to the story.

The first person homosexual element was a new experience. I suppose the best compliment I can pay is to say that it was just like heterosexual love and sex and it was intense at times. The book would do a signal service to the gay community if it managed to convey this to a wider heterosexual audience.

Finally, on a sad but happy note. I was really taken by the verse on Sarah's tomb. I read the full poem off the altar at my godmother's funeral some years ago. A thought to leave you with.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Saturday, October 19, 2019


There was a time when reading this book would have been a reserved sin, reserved to the bishop, the Nuncio, or even the Pope himself.

And, what's worse, it's written by a WOMAN. Salem isn't in it.

The Inquisition (CDF) silenced Tony Flannery for, inter alia, questioning the official version of how the current celibate male priesthood came about. This book, which carefully and convincingly documents the case against the current teaching is, unlike Tony's book, stocked by Veritas, effectively the Catholic Church's book repository.

God be with the days when I was a reader for Veritas. I wonder have they read this book at all. It would certainly bring blushes, if not tears, to the cheeks of a clerical male celibate reader.

The occasion was Sharon giving a talk on her book to We Are Church - Ireland in the Mercy International Centre on 14/10/2019. I have done a post on the book itself and I will be concentrating here on Sharon's talk and some supplementary thoughts of my own on the subject.

In recent years, with women increasingly asserting their rights to equality with men, attention has turned to the ban on their ordination to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

In my day, the thought wouldn't have occurred to anyone to even wonder about this. Jesus was a man, more or less; the priests were men; that was the natural order of things. I still feel it odd when confronted by female Anglican priests, and as for their female bishops.

Well, the women's movement apart, it became increasingly clear that the clerical reaction to the longstanding abuse scandal, right up the line, was not unrelated to an all male clergy. The priority was to protect the institution over the interest of victims. In the face of pressure to ordain women, the reaction is the same - protect the institution, in this case the all male clergy.

Here they think they're on firm ground as it is obvious from the New Testament that Christ ordained an all male clergy, the apostles, and, anyway if the Eucharist is to have any meaning the Real Presence has to be invoked by a man, etc. etc.

But how strong is the case? Did Jesus at any stage explicitly exclude women from ministry; and what was ministry anyway?

Pope John Paul II laid down infallibly and for all time that women could never be ordained and the matter was not for discussion, ever. Serious stuff and clear as a bell.

So, Sharon, in her innocence, bless her, wondered why it subsequently became necessary for the Vatican to upgrade the sin of ordaining women to the same level as child abuse. She rightly sensed that there was more to this than meets the eye. The church was loosing the battle on this one and the response was a bigger stick.

This provoked her into examining the case from scratch. She trawled the New Testament for women. She read all the arguments including papal pronouncements. And she read all the women's writings, including the prodigious works of Mary T Malone.

She set out both her journey and her conclusions in her book. So now you have an irrefutable case which shows that there is no religious impediment of any sort to the ordination of women. In fact, the non-inclusion of women down the ages has been a serious sin of omission. I would venture to say so serious that its remission should be reserved to the Lord him/herself.

How could this appalling situation have persisted down the ages and why, even in modern times, have the faithful been so slow to question it?

Well, Sharon brings us another discovery. Even priestly formation does not include apologetics.

I have a vague recollection of a school book called Cronin's Apologetics, but no clear recollection of what was in it. On mature reflection that was probably where we learned to defy reason and prove the existence of a just, merciful and caring God.

Sharon reminds us that apologetics is about questioning and reasoning and how to make a case. My recollection of the religion class in school was that it was the only one where you were given the answers before you understood, never mind asked, the question. God made the world! Who made the world? QED

On the church's grudging concessions on the status of women, Sharon makes the point that, while they have "rehabilitated" Mary Magdalene, they have not faced up to the implications of this, namely, the ordination of women to the priesthood.

The role played by the Virgin Birth in this is interesting. Sharon points out that this effectively deprives Mary of her sexuality. This sets her apart from all other women and clearly makes it all the easier for a male only clergy to deal with her.

I remember way back Des Fennell pointing out that statues of Mary were breastless. The church was not living in the real world.

I have lived with the Virgin Birth for seven decades and have been much entertained by the church's explanations of why it was necessary. Once I had discovered the story of Leda and the Swan, however, things got a bit confusing and when the gender of the Holy Ghost got called into question the whole thing went beyond me.

While I'm at it, I must confess that, all these years, I have had an oversimplified understanding of the Virgin Birth.

I was thinking only of the conception end of the process where Jesus was conceived outside the sexual act, at least as far as human involvement was concerned. Now I learn that, on his first trip outside, Jesus passed through Mary's hymen without rupturing it. Mary ever-virgin, see?

Well, that made me think of a short story I once read called Le Passe Muraille, the man who walked through walls, until, at a critical moment this ability deserted him and he got permanently stuck in a wall. The dangers of virgin childbirth.

Sharon also touched on another of my favourites, Limbo, an etherial land discovered to be populated by unbaptised babies. It eventually got a bit more complicated than that and I have vented on it here.

There was a fairly lively Q&A which questioned whether the church was reformable at all and whether Pope Francis had done enough at this stage to ensure that the direction in which he has been taking the church would not be reversed after his departure.

On the first question, the feeling was that there was a future for the church but it would be a very different church. If this had to come about via schism, so be it. If people felt there was no hope of reform, what were they doing here in the first place?

Colm Holmes made the point that We Are Church has spent years writing letters and holding meetings and the effect had not been great. Following some sensible advice they are changing tack somewhat and adopting an outreach approach forming different communities in the wider population.

On the second question, there was a feeling that, particularly following Pope Francis's recent naming of a new crop of cardinals, he had done enough for there to be a good chance of his work continuing after his departure.

I welcomed the current questioning of the church's traditional teachings, of which Sharon's book is a shining example. Picking up on Sharon's comment on the lack of apologetics etc. I offered the story of the Jockey and the Sheik as an indication of past inadequacies in this area.

Finally, Sharon was presented with a picture of a mixed gender Last Supper.

You can see a video of the full talk here
and a post on the WAC Facebook page here.

WAC talks previously blogged
Tina Beattie
Terrifying The Church
Where Are You Really From?
Saint Josepha Says Mass
Ecclesia Semper Reformanda

Friday, October 18, 2019


No this is not a prison. It is St. Mary's church Haddington Road, Dublin, at the approach of dusk. At 7.30pm we will be in attendance for the latest in the series of Patrick Finn Lectures. The series has been going now for some years and is notable for the quality and relevance of its speakers.

And, by the way, you don't have to be a Holy Joe/Mary to attend and enjoy the evening. You don't even have to be a believer. The talks stand on their own two feet without any help from above.

Felix Larkin chaired the night's event on behalf of the church's Education Committee and he is to be congratulated on getting Margaret Kelleher for this talk.

Margaret is Professor and Chair of Anglo Irish Literature and Drama at UCD. But she will not be performing any dramatics from the altar on this occasion at least. Nor will she be giving us a course in Anglo Irish literature, though she will briefly mention James Joyce in the course of the evening.

The solemnity of the altar setting is appropriate to the theme. The Maamtrasna murders were brutal; the men and boys were shot and the women and girls bludgeoned to death. This was followed by an equally brutal miscarriage of justice and the botched hanging of an innocent man.

Margaret gave us the guts of her story which she has spelled out in great detail in her book.

The scope of her story is wide, dealing with a community in transition both in terms of property and language and an administration which was alien to those it was administering, was unforgiving and would never admit to having made a mistake.

I think you can see the relevance of this to much that is going on in the world today, both at home, with our near neighbour and further afield.

Margaret mentioned some resonances of her own.

She recently gave a talk in Kilmainham gaol on the time spent in jail by five of those convicted of the murders. They had been detained in that very jail in the run up to their trial in an alien urban environment.

Then there was the Áras, when President Higgins reinstated Myles Joyce as an innocent man - this on the very spot where nearly a hundred and forty years ago the Viceroy had refused to heed persuasive pleas of Myles's innocence with the chilling remark: the law must take its course.

Why am I stressing these aspects in particular? Because our history gives us a sense of our identity. Since I started poking at my local and family history, no end of places and happenings resonate with me.

I am not talking here of history as dates and battles and blood and guts, but of people. Some of them are ordinary and some extraordinary. But they all convey a sense of place and belonging. Following them up has been an extraordinary experience in itself.

I'm fairly sure that Felix would endorse my sentiments as we catch him here listening attentively and reflecting on what Margaret is telling us.

Kevin Cross

As someone remarked to me in the course of the evening, this is a parish with many heavy hitters. So we not only had an attentive and enthusiastic audience, but also a widely ranging and substantive Q&A, in the course of which Margaret took us further into the story and its implications.

You can follow through on all of this by checking out the blog post I did when I read the book and then get a copy of the book to deepen your understanding of an important element of our heritage.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Click on any image for a larger version

Sharon Tighe-Mooney

It is worth setting this book in context from the outset in case I lose the run of myself with one of my hobbyhorses later on.
'What About Me? Women and the Catholic Church' is an exploration by an ordinary woman, born into the Catholic faith of the arguments given to exclude her from ministry.

Using her research skills, Sharon examines the New Testament, Christian writings and Papal documents. It is a personal quest to shed light on the story of women in the Christian movement from its earliest days to the present.

The objective of the book is to explore, inform, speculate and question and it should appeal to a general audience.

The context of the book is the 2010 move by Pope Benedict XVI to elevate the ‘crime’ of ordaining women to Catholic ministry and the subsequent censoring of religious personnel who questioned this edict. This book details a quest to find out where the strong antipathy towards women in the Roman Catholic Church's institutional mindset comes from.

No Wimmin

That's me, the male altar boy on the left, around 1960. On the right, out of the picture, behind a high railings is a community of nuns. They have dedicated their lives to Christ. But they are not allowed to serve on the altar because they are female.

The male priest on the altar, who has just consecrated the host and wine, is a serial child sex abuser. According to a reliable source, he is the worst abuser ever. The Dublin diocese protected him, shifting him around parishes, for nearly half a century.

At one point he was vice-postulator in the causes of Edel Quinn and Matt Talbot and a diocesan administrator. When the Guards finally caught up with him they had to penetrate a battery of civil and canonical lawyers to get him into court.

This man could say mass, hear confessions and lay down the law. These women were not allowed to even serve on the altar.

I hope you are suitably shocked.

Well, you'll be more shocked when I tell you whats in this book - how an all male ministry conned the faithful into believing that God did not want women to be priests, period.

The Gospels and other fairy tales

The headings in this piece are mine and mine alone. I am also responsible for choosing the illustrations. In exoneration I'll have to plead that the book's great cover set me off.

This is probably the best place to mention that, in the absence of an index, Sharon has been generous with chapter and section headings so the book is easy to navigate and refer back to.

Sharon takes you on a journey through the gospels and early church writings pinpointing the real role of women in the evolution of Christian communities and eventually the Church itself.

She shows how the suppression of a significant body of early writings and the wilful misinterpretation of the rest has facilitated the evolution of a celibate male clergy. Once in power this group went to any lengths needed to hang in there.

Messing around with Mary and Mary Magdalene was de rigeur. Any significant involvement by women in Jesus's mission or legacy had to be downplayed or exceptionalised. They were not part of the action. How many Popes does it take to get this message across?

It's a fabulous journey and one I'm sure that will convince you that there is a more than thousand year wrong out there just waiting to be righted.

Ex Cathedra

My favourite Ex-Cathedra picture

I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly authority on women and that this judgement is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

Page 84
This statement by the then Pope, John Paul II, is as near as you are going to get to an ex cathedra statement from any pope in modern times. The last such statement that I remember was from Pius XII on the Assumption. Safe enough you might think.

Mind you, there has been much discussion about the degree of authority attaching to Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, some arguing that it carried the cachet of infallibility. And look where that led.

If I may digress for a moment. The Catholic Church I grew up in was a closed system, intellectually speaking. There was no way to break out of their mind control once you got trapped inside it. Two examples should illustrate this, one from way back and one, unfortunately still with us.

Connie Lucey was the longstanding Bishop of Cork in my day. He was the Gatekeeper of religious orthodoxy. I quoted him in a paper I gave to the UCD L&H in the heady days of 1967 when, with Vatican II, we thought we'd left this stuff behind us.
Dr. Lucey, Bishop of Cork, while defending freedom of the press as a Good Thing, defined a free press as one
free to print what it is morally justified in printing. ... And who is to decide what views are fit for publication? The answer is that the Church is entitled to decide when the views are views on faith and morals.
My second example of the closed system involves Vincent Twomey and the informed conscience.

The Catholic Church has signed up to the primacy of conscience. But, of course, there's a catch, they mean an informed conscience. And how do you know your conscience is sufficiently informed. Well, as Vincent informs us that the Church can teach no wrong, you'll know you've hit the G spot when your conscience and the Church are in agreement. QED.

Now, Seán Fagan would have settled for best efforts, and, of course he'd be right. But he wasn't around in my day.

However Paul VI came to my rescue. His Humanae Vitae, and Pius XII's Vatican Roulette, were such blatant rubbish that they proved to me that the Church can teach wrong and grievously so.

Mary McAleese has likened this closed system to an area surrounded by a wall which is not to be breached. Well those two popes gave me the means to vault over it.

If all this is getting a bit heavy for you, and you're not yet totally put off by any word associated with Brexit, you might enjoy the Carthaginian Monolithic Church, Michael Freyn's "withdrawal" poke at the Church in 1964.

The Last Male Circus

The International Eucharistic Congress, held in Dublin in 2012, gave the Church the opportunity to show it was serious about reform. The about-to-be-silenced priest, Tony Flannery, made an interesting suggestion. Why not replace the mitres and shiney vestments with attire more resembling sackcloth and ashes as a gesture of humility and repentance.

Did they? NOT!

Instead they commissioned a vast wardrobe of new flashy gear.

These guys are tough.

Sex and the Eucharist

After some discussion of the Bride of Christ stuff, which most of us managed to live with without blowing a fuse, Sharon now throws us in the deep end at the aptly numbered Page #101.
There is more. If you think sex is excluded from all of the above, you would be wrong. And despite my well-developed Catholic sense of embarrassment about discussing this topic, I am going to tell you about it anyway.

Believe it or not, the male seed is dominant in many aspects of the theological discussion. For example, if the representative of Christ on the cross can only be a man, then giving up the body to death becomes an act of coitus, as does, in turn, the symbolic function of the male priest on the altar presiding over the Eucharist.

Here is what Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar, a member of the Papal Theological Commission, and Pope John Paul II's favourite theological advisor had to say in 1965. In Wer ist die Kirche? Vier Skizzen (Who is the Church? Four Sketches), the Cardinal wrote:
The priestly ministry and the sacrament are means of passing on seed. They are a male preserve. They aim at inducing in the Bride her function as a woman.
Unfortunately he did not stop there but went on to ask:
What else is his Eucharist but, at a higher level, an endless act of fruitful outpouring of his whole flesh, such as a man can only achieve for a moment with a limited organ of his body?
In one fell swoop, Christ's death, wherein he identified with human death, is now all about male ejaculation. Sheer mortification prevents me from discussing this further, but I am quite sure readers feel that I do not need to say any more.

This clearly runs deeper in the psyche than I realised.

But let's have some fun and take it a little further.

So, if the consecration is ejaculation (never-ending) for the male, what would it be for the ordained female?

Why, an orgasm, of course.

And what if we were to have a mass concelebrated by a male and a female?

You see where this is going?

Pure Communio, coming together, in all possible meanings of that phrase.

Now you see the problem!

Rush to judgement

We saw above how it was the Vatican elevating the ordination of women to the sin status of child sex abuse that sparked Sharon into looking closer at this whole area.
The Congregation for the doctrine of the faith has been very active in this regard. Indeed, it has been amazingly swift in addressing and investigating dissidence with regard to female ordination, which, in light of their previous reluctance to deal with child abuse investigations, is striking.

Page 192
Look at it this way. How long did it take to silence Tony Flannery once he questioned the origins of the priesthood? For how many years did Morgan Costello abuse children while under the protection of the Dublin diocese? QED.

I'm running out of steam now. I hope I haven't given you too many spoilers and that they turn out to be teasers and tempt you to buy and read the book. It really will open your eyes and boil your blood.