Southern Religion

Another Christian woman gives up second-class citizenship

Born into a Roman Catholic family and educated by nuns, Irish broadcast journalist Olivia O’Leary left over the church’s refusal to ordain women. According to the Belfast Telegraph:

“No longer at my age can I accept a subordinate role; not for myself, not for my daughter, not for my sisters, my nieces or friends,” the 61-year-old current affairs presenter declared.

She added that other women had walked out of the church a long time ago.

“Maybe I just kept hoping,” she added.

She was provoked to a recent, detailed on-air explanation by an interview with American Catholic theologian and intellectual George Weigel. She was unimpressed, explaining:

“He [Mr Weigel] gave the same old non-reasons for the refusal of the church to ordain women, ‘we have different tasks, different gifts’ . . . ‘God made men and women different for a reason’.”

Ms O’Leary continued: “At this stage I don’t feel rage so much as weariness — that ‘difference’ is still latched onto as a reason to discriminate; weariness and, for me, relief, that it’s all over now. I’ve moved on out.”

She now attends the Church of Ireland (part of the Anglican Communion) where “I can stand tall because the Church of Ireland, whether I join it or not, accepts my full humanity. It ordains women.”

Unlike churches in the shrinking Southern Baptist Convention (as it is for the moment still named), where a slow parade of churches embrace expulsion by accepting women pastors.

The pursuit by women of equality where it is denied them appears to be as sweepingly nondenominational as it is relentless.

December 26, 2011 - Posted by | Catholic, Religion, SBC, Uncategorized, Women |


  1. Interesting justification and transference of blame to the Church. Shouldn’t she take her issue to Christ? He did not choose women as one of the twelve apostles. If we believe all of his other teachings and yet question his decision to not ordinate women, then are we really faithful disciples?

    The reason the Church upholds the decision of Christ to ordinate men is because this is his directive. We disciples and the Church are not at liberty to change his directive.

    In fact the Church explicitly teaches that men and women are absolutely equal. This is stated in the doctrine of the Church and relevant papal encyclicals.

    Comment by cinhosa | December 27, 2011

    • What about ordaining women as deacons? Remember that Phoebe was named as a deacon of the church in Cenchrae (Rm. 16:1). Weren’t the first deacons called and ordained by a laying on of hands from the apostles. Thus Jesus choice at the Last Supper apparently does not apply to the diaconate. Does it?

      Comment by baptistplanet | December 27, 2011

  2. In the Catholic church, deacons are not equivalent to priests because deacons cannot administer 5 of the 7 sacraments (baptism and marriage are the only ones a deacon can administer). They can perform distribution and exposition of the Eucharist but cannot consecrate it.

    To my knowledge, women are deacons because in the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 6:1-7), seven men were named as the first deacons. Here’s verses 3-6 (from NAB translation –

    “Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

    “The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.”

    “They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them.*”


    Regarding Pheobe as a possible deacon – good question that I had to look up. The verse and note from Romans 16:1 (NAB) follow:

    verse: I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is [also] a minister* of the church at Cenchreae,

    note: *Minister: in Greek, diakonos; see note on Phil 1:1.

    Note from Philippians 1:1:

    “Ministers: the Greek term diakonoi is used frequently in the New Testament to designate “servants,” “attendants,” or “ministers.” Paul refers to himself and to other apostles as “ministers of God” (2 Cor 6:4) or “ministers of Christ” (2 Cor 11:23). ”

    “In the Pastorals (1 Tm 3:8, 12) the diakonos has become an established official in the local church; hence the term is there translated as deacon.”

    “The diakonoi at Philippi seem to represent an earlier stage of development of the office; we are uncertain about their precise functions. Hence the term is here translated as ministers. See Rom 16:1, where Phoebe is described as a diakonos (minister) of the church of Cenchreae.”

    Comment by cinhosa | December 29, 2011

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