A group of Irish priests may face sanction from the Vatican for publicly declaring their support for female clergy despite a 1994 ban further discussion of the subject.

A group of 12 priests has launched a campaign calling for the end of the “systemic oppression of women” within the Catholic Church, demanding that female members of the faith are allowed to play any role within the ministry, including priesthood.

The group said: “We are aware that there are many women who are deeply hurt and saddened by this teaching. We also believe that the example given by the Church in discriminating against women encourages and reinforces abuse and violence against women in many cultures and societies.”

They also addressed public opinion regarding female clergy members stating that the majority of people stood in support of women being allowed to join the priesthood.

“Survey after survey indicates that a great many people are in favor of full equality for women in the Church,” the group added.

Is there anyone out there who *disagrees* with the idea of women priests? Apart from the guys who get to make the... https://t.co/ZX6w2giG5H

— Deirdre OShaughnessy (@deshocks) November 2, 2015

Wow! The day we can see the end of female discrimination in the world's greatest religions will be a great day... https://t.co/sLdIsAbELz

— Natasha H Parker (@natashaparker) November 2, 2015

Their outspoken actions, however, may now result in their censure as a ban on any further discussion regarding female priests has been in place since 1994 when it was instigated by John Paul II.

Pope Francis has said that Pope John Paul II had reflected at length on this matter, had declared that women could never be priests and that, therefore, no further discussion on the ordination of women to ministry is possible,” the priests continued.

The group feels that such a ban is destructive for the future of the Church as it shows a lack of willingness to discuss issues and problems that some may have with the Catholic power structure. They believe the Church is alienating women and men alike, especially as women make up the bulk of the weekly congregation in Ireland, "mirroring the fidelity of the women who followed Jesus to the end."

“They [the general public] are scandalized by the unwillingness of Church leaders to open the debate ,” the group said.

Fr Roy Donovan told the Irish Independent that the Catholic Church is afraid of women, a fear that "seems to be almost irrational at some levels."

Fr. Donovan, a parish priest in the archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, stated that the centuries old control men have had over the Church and the patriarchal structure in place have negatively affected the way in which powerful members of the clergy, including the Pope, view the role women could play if they were allowed in the ministry.

He stated that they are “kind of brainwashed into thousands of years of seeing everything through male eyes."

"I think the synod in Rome has shown up the huge injustice and prejudice towards women – 270 men and not one woman voted on matters concerning the family."

”I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t have women ordained within the church,” added priest, author, newspaper columnist, and broadcaster Fr Brian D’Arcy from Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.

“There may be a theological reason for it, but if there is then nobody has ever explained it to me.

“We need to have a broad discussion about everybody’s role within the church and move away from a clergy dominated church and instead to a church of the people.”

@missmariamw https://t.co/qyvHmAlDZC

— felix cepeda (@felixcepeda3) October 27, 2015

Should the Catholic Church allow female priests? Is it fair to place a ban on discussion of the issue? Let us know in the comments section. 

H/T: Irish Independent

The group may face censure as the Vatican banned priests from further discussing the possibility of female priests in 1994.Getty Images