Press Releases

8 March 2018
CWO responds to Dr Mary McAleese’s call for full equality for women in the Roman Catholic Church.  

Catholic Women’s Ordination congratulates Prof Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, on her uncompromising call today to the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Francis to bring down the “walls of misogyny” in the Church.

The Voices of Faith Foundation, celebrating International Women’s Day with their conference, Why Women Matter, asked Prof McAleese, a canon lawyer, to open the proceedings in Rome as their keynote speaker, after the Vatican attempted to ban her and two others last month.

Prof McAleese described as “ludicrous” the outdated Church attitudes and procedures which render women “invisible and voiceless” whilst being “expected to do all the hard work that keeps the Church going.”

She said that the Church has become a “primary global carrier of the toxic virus of misogyny”, and “a male bastion of patronising platitudes to which Pope Francis has added his own quota”.

Challenging Pope Francis, whom she described as “a reforming Pope” to commit to “real practical action on behalf of women”, she likened the Church to a bird with a broken wing. A bird has two wings, she pointed out, and a Church which continues to ignore over 600 million women in favour of men is doomed to flutter helplessly on the ground, able neither to walk nor fly.

Calling for a “credible strategy for the inclusion of women as equals”, her words will be welcomed by thoughtful Catholics and reformers worldwide, and by CWO as it campaigns for women’s ordination and full participation in a renewed priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.


22 February 2017
CWO believes that the role of ordained women’s ministry as deacon and priest should now be seriously considered and implemented   

Reflecting on the closing of the Year of Mercy, Cardinal Vincent Nichols spoke in Belfast on 7th February. Catholic Women’s Ordination welcomes his exposition of the Pope’s culture of mercy (to women and men) and supports his wish that different levels of the church accompany each other and discern God’s vision in each circumstance. In a later press interview Cardinal Nichols said that he still favoured celibate men for the priesthood. We have prayed and discerned with CWO, our parishes and dioceses for over 20 years and believe that the role of ordained women’s ministry as deacon and priest should now be seriously considered and implemented. There is a shortage of male celibate priests coming forward for ordination so that in a sacramental church we face Eucharistic famine. We welcome women and men working together equally in the Roman Catholic Church. We agree with Cardinal Nichols that no one should rush or dominate in expressing their opinions. In 1994 Pope John Paul II forbade discussion of women’s ordination but before and since we have worked patiently, at all levels, to request proper consideration of women’s ordained ministry.  

9 January 2017
Una Kroll

The death of Una Kroll was announced on January 6. She was a friend and supporter of Catholic Women’s Ordination. A few years ago she became a Roman Catholic and told us she was supporting our organisation: praying and campaigning for women’s priestly ordination in a renewed and reformed Catholic Church. We valued her support and were particularly moved when she told us she would not preside at a Eucharist again as a former Church of England priest until Roman Catholic women could become priests too. Thank you Una for your prayers, love and support.

2 November 2016
Pope Francis’s remarks about 1994 apostolic declaration ‘On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone’: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis’ – Catholic Women’s Ordination Worldwide responds As the Year of Mercy comes to an end.

What an unfortunate remark for the Pope to make. In spite of all the good he has done he clearly has a very dangerous, untheological blind spot. The 1994 apostolic declaration introduced a new theological category – ‘definitive’- without any consultation with Bishops and none of course with the majority of the church, the laity. This directive is now known as the ‘Dubious Dubium’ and one day will have to be revoked, if the Catholic Church is ever to have real credibility as a Christian, Christ filled Church.

Moreover the damage of this blind spot carries with it a tremendous responsibility on being a primary cause of the terrible violence and poverty that many women suffer on a daily basis; they are seen as second class and inferior to men. Erroneous teachings in any church are highly dangerous as they tend to influence young, unformed minds, and are hard to shake off in adult life. This leads to a twisted formation of conscience and reducing people to a lesser understanding of their own personal dignity and a fear of an overarching demanding God rather than the true nature of the Goodness of God.   ‘I have come that they may have life and have it to the full’, (John 10:10). Male, female, lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, and questioning are all called by God. All are equal.

30 May 2016
Women are in Rome this week!  

Catholic Women’s Ordination(CWO) joins with Women’s Ordination Worldwide(WOW) in Rome during the Vatican’s Jubilee for Priests 1-3 June.

WOW is holding a Conference, Reception and an Exhibition of large photos in central Rome of women in priestly ministry. Pope Francis is opening some doors in the Catholic Church. WOW and CWO call on Pope Francis and the Catholic hierarchy courageously to open the door to dialogue on women’s ordination. It has been 40 years since the Vatican’s own commission declared there is no scriptural barrier for women’s ordination.

WOW and CWO lifts up all women who are called to the priesthood and all who work for equality in Church structures. The pain of this closed door is felt deeply around the world and perpetuates discrimination and injustices against women and girls in society.

This meeting in Rome is crucial in offering support to Pope Francis in the changes he is working towards in the Church. If the RC Church is to remain relevant in anyway opening up all areas of the Church to women of all nationalities is at the centre of this change.

The Contacts below are available for any questions or interviews to bring this subject further into the public eye as one of the great injustices of our time and a major underlying cause of the violence, poverty and second class status of women whether rich or poor.

18th May 2016
Pope Francis will create a commission to study the possibility of women deacons  – Catholic Women’s Ordination Worldwide responds

We in Catholic Women’s Ordination (CWO) welcome the challenge from the Religious Women in the USA, given to Pope Francis about the ordination of women to the Diaconate. We wholeheartedly support the Pope’s proposal to set up a theological Commission to look into the issue. We are also aware of all the theology that is already in place thanks to our professional theologians, women and men, in the UK, as well as in the USA and other Continents.   The Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research gives documented history of the early women deacons and makes the point that the women, together with the men, received a sacramental ordination in today’s terms. However, in the euphoria of the possibility of ordaining women to the Diaconate, we must always remember that historically the Diaconate of women and men has always been understood differently in the Roman Catholic tradition. For men it has always been understood as a stepping stone to ordination to the priesthood but women’s Diaconate has been perceived as an end in itself.  

In moving to the official possibility of the ordination of women to the Diaconate we need to ensure, especially for future generations of women, that no further theological obstacles are placed in their way towards the fullness of women’s ordination to the priesthood. It is important to remember that in 1976, Pope Paul VI, set up a Biblical Commission to look into the matter of women’s ordination to the priesthood and in 1977 the Commission reported back there was nothing in scripture or theology against it.  

29 January 2015
Argument of Taint

We are members of Catholic Women’s Ordination which campaigns and prays for women’s ordained ministry in a renewed Roman Catholic Church.

We were delighted to see a woman become Bishop this week at last, and are saddened that discussion of women’s ordained ministry in our Church has been forbidden for 21 years. We understand that Archbishop Sentamu is accommodating traditional Anglicans by not ‘laying his hands’ on Philip North.

We are concerned that the arguments of “taint” and apostolic succession are still being made by traditional Anglicans. We believe women and men equally image God and that the exclusion of women from leadership roles in the Catholic Church has an impact on women and girls around the world.

We are very willing to talk to you if you wish to hear from Roman Catholic women who are campaigning for change.

18 September 2007
An ecumenical celebration of St Therese of Lisieux and women’s call to priesthood
Monday 1 October 7.30pm
St Chad’s Anglican Church, Far Headingley, Leeds

All are welcome at this very special event on the Feast Day of St Therese of Lisieux, the patron saint of all Roman Catholics calling for women’s ordination, as she herself had an unfulfilled calling to priesthood. Women and men from the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Free Churches will meet to celebrate the life and calling of St Therese of Lisieux and women’s vocations to priestly ministry at St Chad’s Anglican Church, Far Headingley, Leeds at 7.30pm on Monday 1 October, St Therese’s feast day.

Speakers from Catholic Women’s Ordination, Women and the Church, and Women’s Ordination Worldwide will talk about the life and priestly vocation of St Therese, women’s experiences of priestly vocation and ministry, and the worldwide movement for women’s ordination.

The Church of England is currently drafting legislation to enable the consecration of women bishops (already permitted in other Anglican churches, including those of Scotland and Ireland). The ban on the discussion of women’s ordination within the Roman Catholic church was recently challenged by the bishops of Brazil who called for the debate to be re-opened.

All are welcome to attend this ecumenical event which will include discussion, liturgy and refreshments.

6 November 2006
(Joint Press release with WATCH – Women and the Church)
Roman Catholic and Anglican Solidarity on Women’s Ordination

The Roman Catholic group CWO (Catholic Women’s Ordination) and the Anglican group WATCH (Women and the Church) have sent a joint letter to all the Bishops of both Churches giving support to those in the Church of England for their recent vote in favour of women Bishops and calling for the Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales to look urgently at the growing desire for women priests in the Roman Catholic Church. The letter has been sent before the joint meeting of Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, to be held at Hinsley Hall, Leeds on 14th –15th November 2006.

The letter says:

We say to the Anglican Bishops: please do not be afraid of raising the subject of ordaining women with your Catholic colleagues. It falls to the RC Bishops, when they gather in Synod, to consider whether these major issues in the Magisterium of the Church need to be looked at afresh. There are clearly many Catholic Bishops in England and Wales who personally believe that women should be ordained: we hope that in the privacy of your meeting that you will be able to discuss this, and perhaps help the Catholic bishops to consider ways of raising this formally in the structures of their Church. The XII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is to take place in Rome in October 2008:such a gathering might well provide an opportunity for a discussion of women’s ordination.

The RC Bishops of England and Wales, from their experience of working alongside

Anglicans, will surely have much to say on the contribution that can be made by women priests.

To the Catholic Bishops we say: please do not feel this is a one-way dialogue. We believe you also have much to share with your Anglican brothers on the same issue. 14 years ago the C of E voted wholeheartedly for the ordination of women, by a two-thirds majority in all three houses of General Synod. This past July, Synod overwhelmingly agreed with the majority of the Bishops that admitting women to the episcopate was ‘consonant with the faith of the Church’. As Catholics we hope you will feel able to share with your Anglican colleagues that, as this is the step they are taking, they must appoint women as bishops on the same basis as men are appointed as bishops. To do otherwise would be to alter seriously the nature and understanding of episcopé. You will no doubt wish to point out that, in any future reconciliation between Rome and Canterbury, all priests and bishops will need to be universally recognised.

9 July 2006
Revd Victoria Rue – Roman Catholic Woman Priest celebrates mass for CWO 

On Saturday 15 July at 3.00 pm at All Hallow’s Church, Leeds, Revd Dr Victoria Rue, one of the Roman Catholic women ordained last year in Canada, will be sharing her faith journey and celebrating Mass.

There will be refreshments and time for informal discussion

afterwards. This event has been organised by the Leeds Catholic Women’s Ordination group who welcome all who are interested in finding out about the journeys women are taking towards ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. 

25 June 2004
Women’s Diaconate in the RC Church – They say it never happened….

The truth about women’s ordination that the Vatican and the Magisterium of the RC Church refuses to recognise.

Catholic Women’s Ordination will re-enact the ordination of women deacons as it happened in the early church using recently uncovered historical sources (see John Wijngaards No Women in Holy Orders?).

This re-enactment forms part of CWO’s Annual gathering and celebrates ten years of the Leeds group

Place: Holy Trinity Church, Boar Lane, Leeds
Day:   Saturday July 17
Time: 2.15pm.
Followed by discussion groups

All press very welcome.

CWO was founded in March 1993 as a national UK group of women and men who care deeply about the Roman Catholic Church. We want to be part of building a church community that truly lives the justice demanded by Jesus; a justice which demands that women be equal to men.

Women equal with men means not only that women have the opportunity to fulfil their own vocation, but also that the Church community benefits from their experience and their strengths in the ministerial priesthood.

We are a forum to examine, challenge and develop the current understanding of priesthood.

We aim to achieve the ordination of women to a renewed priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.