Monday, June 8, 2009

Female bishop calls for reformed church

Irish Independent
By John Cooney
Monday June 08 2009
THE first Irish-born woman bishop since the fifth century has called on ordinary Catholics to work to transform the power structures of Church and State.
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan said that old hierarchical structures needed to be broken down to prevent scandals, such as those revealed in the Ryan report, from ever happening again.
The female bishop was born in Rathdowney, Co Laois, but later emigrated to the United States with her parents.
A theology professor and author, she was one of eight women who defied the Vatican American Catholic Church authorities three years ago when they were ordained priests on a chartered ship near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
During a visit to Ireland last week, she said that the anger and sense of betrayal felt by people in the wake of the Ryan report "should be the catalysts of change".
"This is a time for radical change when the people can empower themselves and move away from a hierarchical clerical-led Church to the earlier and longer tradition of community partnership," added Bishop Meehan.
She spoke to the Irish Independent while on holiday in Ireland with her 84-year-old father John.
Brutal
"My dad, who grew up in the 1930s, often told stories of brutal beatings of boys in his school in Ballyroan."
Bishop Meehan visited St Peter's Church in Drogheda, Co Louth to pray for the victims of abuse in church-run institutions which the Ryan report has labelled as concentration camps.
She said a special prayer to St Brigid, whom she says was both a female priest and an abbess who worked in celibate partnership with St Conleth. Her prayer was an invitation to the women of Ireland to stand up in the present crisis to build a new Church.
"Ryan has nailed the corruption of Church and State in his finding that the abuse was systemic. I understand the outrage felt by the people," she said.
Although the Vatican has warned the movement that they excommunicated themselves when they were ordained, Bishop Meehan maintains that her ordination is "valid".
- John Cooney
©Independent.ie

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