Olivia O'Leary.

A VETERAN Irish broadcast journalist has publicly parted ways with the Catholic Church over its refusal to ordain female priests.

Olivia O’Leary, one of Ireland’s best known current affairs presenters, blasted the church on its record of refusal to accept the notion of women priests and celebrated Christmas in Dublin’s Church of Ireland cathedral, St Patrick’s.

The 61-year-old, who was schooled by Catholic nuns and has clergy in her family, has also cited the cover-up of child sex abuse by church authorities as a “proximate factor” in her decision to renounce the Catholic faith.

A former anchor on BBC’s “Newsnight” current affairs flagship program, O’Leary recently used the platform of RTE radio’s “Drivetim” show to announce her decision to part ways with Catholicism, launching a stinging rebuke to the faith’s attitude towards women.

“No longer can I accept a subordinate role; not for myself, not for my daughter, not for my sisters, my nieces or friends,” she told stunned listeners.

Referring to an RTE interview with U.S. Catholic theologian George Weigel, in which he defended the church’s stance on the sex divide, she continued: “At this stage I don’t feel rage so much as weariness.”

Praising aspects of the Catholic faith, including the liturgy, which she labeled “one of the world’s great art forms.” O’Leary said it had increasingly become an “ethical desert,” comparing it to apartheid era South Africa.

Despite her celebrating Christmas in the Church of Ireland, she made no commitment to officially joining the Irish branch of Anglican faith.

“I can stand tall, because the Church of Ireland, whether I join it or not, accepts my full humanity; it ordains women,” she said.

“Otherwise I’ll celebrate by simply being outside in the wind and the rain, outside in the sunshine walking the world that the creator made for us all equally.”



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  • Tony de New York


  • Frank Lostaunau

    Olivia is my kinda gal! VIVA OLIVIA! VIVA!

  • Betty Lou Kishler

    I am with you though not for all the reasons you gave.
    I can no longer tolerate the hypocrisy in the church.
    Jesus would not go around in pointed hats, long flowing robes and exhibit lack of injustice to all the CHURCH hates. Women, homosexuals, tansgenders, etc.

  • I am saddened that you left the Catholic Church. Changes need to come from those who stay within the faith. As a woman priest I feel the only way to make these changes is not to leave but to let the hierarchy realize that women are created equally in the eyes of God and called to priesthood just as the men are. The spirit is moving within the church and people are speaking out for justice and peace. Our voices must be heard.

  • Amos

    The argument that Jesus was a man, therefore, all priests must be men is theologically suspect.

    Catholic theology teaches that Jesus was a divine person, the second person of the Trinity. His divine personhood embraced two natures, a human nature and a divine nature.

    In his human nature, Jesus was a man, in his divine nature, he is God. Jesus uttered the words “This is my body, this is my blood” through his human nature, but the change could only have taken place through the interposition of his divine nature inhering in his divine personhood.

    A priest exercising the function of confecting the Eucharist, does not do so as a result of his human nature or human personhood, but by sharing through ordination in the divine power of Jesus. Divine power knows no distinction by reason of gender. As Aquinas would put it, sex is but an accident inhering in the substance of personhood as an attribute.

    To put it bluntly, all humans are created equal, not because they posses a human nature, but are equal because they are persons, who posses a human nature. The equality resides not in their human nature which accidentally may have one or the other gender, but in their personhood endowed with a human nature. The error is made by assigning the modifier human to person but assuming they are one substance, when in fact, the quality of humanness inheres in the substance of person, again as an attribute.

    The gospels, recording events from an earlier time, cannot ignore the prominence given to women as witnesses to Jesus’ teaching and deeds. It is only in later apologetical writings that there is created a culture that justifies a male only leadership in the later faith communities.

    The personal satisfaction afforded by the proposition of a male only priesthood, is no evidence of its validity. Nor is the intensity of feeling or conviction with which this proposition is held.

    Augustine of Hippo, Doctor of the Church, a favorite source of quotes by Catholic apologists and divines was a sexual neurotic, who never succeeded in logically resolving the Manichean duality he internalized early in life. His protestations to the contrary are belied by his coarse statement on womankind, echoed down the centuries by like-minded celibate bachelors, who would feel the fires of Hell welling up around them should they ever see a real live vagina: “Love her as a wife, but hate her as a woman!” Augustine wrote.

    Theological speculators have wasted way too much ink and human resources trying to disprove what patently is evident in front of their noses.

    Uta Ranke-Heinemann writes: “The whole of church history adds up to one long arbitrary, narrow-minded, masculine despotism over the female sex.”

    Acts 10: 34 “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts people from every nation who fear him and do what is right.'”

    Proverbs 28:19 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

  • Margaret Watson

    This must be so difficult, but your decision seesm to have been almost forced upon you. . I do hope that you find some way of worshipping collectively in a way tha tkeeps you near to God.

  • Ms. O’Leary is not arrogant but principled, intelligent, and possessed of far greater good sense and integrity than the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Corporation. Viva Olivia!!

  • Ted Millichap

    Jesus did not institute a priesthood to rule His church. He told his disciples, male and female, to be shepherds and servants to the flock. Ordination is not necessary for this role. Remember, “call no man father”. He spent His whole life fighting the institutionalised religion of the chosen people.

  • fr xavier lobo

    by her leaving the church she has made her opponents stronger. i wish if she were to live the command of christ “do this in memory of me” and lived the eucharistic life by offering mass she would have become an example for others to follow. still it is not late. she should not renounce catholicism as if a title. it’s a birthright of every catholic by virtue of baptism. u don’t need ordination. gather the like minded people and offer the eucharist. that will give them the order by “the voice of people” to celebrate. the voice of the people is the mightiest order we can have. let her educate more people and start the movement for others to follow. let her not accept defeat.
    she should be a victor, not the vanquished.

  • james

    What a legend in – her own mind. The Olivia O Leary’s of Ireland should be proud. This woman wants to be a man ? Why ? Who knows. How do I know ? Men are ordained in the Catholic Church as Priests. Woman have a well respected role in the Church. Olivia wants to be a Priest maybe ? a man’s role.
    The Church if Ireland is the place for her if she feels this is what suits her. Her use of her Drivetime programme, a current affairs programme, on the national broadcasrters schedule, to announce this is another example of Olivia’s ego. If this is a faith matter ie her relationship with God, then the decision should be a private one made in her heard and not for public display. Many leave or join the Church and never publicaly announce it. Who cares Olivia !!

  • Unto the third and 4th generation..and you must be born again. I did not know I had Irish ancestry until I was in my 50’s.(In every sphere of sin there are victims and culprits) In taking my inner pain to Jesus I received revelations, and one day praying for Ireland I felt this powerful urge to pray for the British for what they did to the Irish. And to be honest their transgressions were awful. Dads uncle Jim a man of principle died in Kilmainham Jail. When we toured Ireland we got an urgency to pray over Drogheda and on the bus in Dublin as the guide pointed out a burial ground the Holy Spirit said within. Most of them are with me (in Heaven). I think if we focus on Him not our differences and His word not our opinions and if we really pray for help and believe to receive it the Lord Is Gracious and rights ancient wrongs. The scone stone started its life in Ireland brought back with a Jewish princess from The Holy Land in Jeremiahs time. The Irish are Brave and have a sense of humour second to none. We must believe the song “There is no place where earths sorrows are more felt than up in Heaven” and one day the wicked will be no more Psalm 73. No coincidence that the Irish Harp is similar to a Jewish Harp but with the 7 more strings that God needed. It is less about ordination, than true anointing, no one can take that away. My Granny was an O Reilly and I am thankful for that. Shalom!

  • Enb14

    She wants to be a man? Thank you, James, for showing me that the US has not cornered the market on idiotic remarks by comment trolls.

    This ex-Catholic says, “Yay, Olivia!”