Jennifer Sleeman

Mass boycott a success because the message is out


Jennifer Sleeman

The 81-year-old grandmother who called for Irish women to boycott Mass in Ireland at the weekend (in protest at the Catholic Church’s treatment of women) spent Sunday afternoon at her home in Cork, taking time to pray for change within the Catholic Church.

In a campaign that captured the Irish public's imagination, Jennifer Sleeman from Clonakilty in West Cork called for the weekend boycott “to let the Vatican and the Irish church know that women are tired of being treated as second-class citizens.”

Sleeman, a convert to Catholicism from Presbyterianism 54 years ago, refrained from attending Mass in her home parish of Clonakilty on Sunday.

Speaking of the campaign, she said: “I have no way of measuring it. I actually think the boycott itself now is irrelevant, the message is out there so loud and clear so that whether people go to Mass or not, I don’t think really matters very much now – I don’t think it really matters in terms of numbers.”

Sleeman said she was encouraged by the letters and messages of support she had received over the past six weeks from as far away as America and Australia and she added that men as well as women had supported her call for change.

“I hope the powers that be in the church have listened and heard because without change, I fear the church will diminish and I think a lot of people feel that way because they’ve just got stuck in a time warp – as Newman said, ‘To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often’.”

Former Clonakilty curate Father Gerard Galvin, who in 2005 refused to read out a letter from bishops on child sex abuse because he believed more should have been done, told the press he hadn’t noticed any significant number of women absent from Mass in his new parish of Durrus and Kilcrohane.


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