Jennifer Sleeman, from Clonakilty, Cork has been overwhelmed by the response to her call for a one-day boycott of mass to protest the Catholic Church’s treatment of women.
The 80-year-old said that she’s been amazed by the public’s response. She said “It has all been a bit overwhelming…The phone hasn't stopped ringing all week. There has been the odd person saying: 'You should be going to mass more, not less.' But the majority of people have been very kind and very supportive of the idea."
Her cause has been mentioned on several blogs where it is receiving support and she has generated media interested in the U.K, Italy, Germany, France and the United States. “I had the BBC on the phone just a little while ago,” she added.
Mrs Sleeman feels that the church's treatment of women is unfair and that they essentially treat women like second class citizens. She believes that the Church does not appreciate the level of anger on this issue.
“I am not like the Catholic Church in that this isn't an order -- it is merely a suggestion to stay away from mass for one day to show the depth of anger that is out there…I think this might give people who perhaps feel voiceless in the church a voice. There are lots of women who feel very strongly about being able to do more within the church but are simply not being allowed to do so."
"I do feel that I have right on my side -- I do not feel that it is just me. I feel it is so many people that would think the same way as I do. I have felt that a lot of women are angry.”
She continued “They have been doing their own way of protesting. It all seems so spread around and it would be great if we could concentrate all this so it just came to me. I'm beginning to wonder is there a Holy Spirit and did it put the idea into my head."
The Catholic Church responded to Mrs Sleeman’s call just 24-hours after it was publicized. It said “The mass is a community sacramental celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus…We would encourage people not to absent themselves from the Eucharist where we re-enact the Last Supper and the Paschal mystery, following the command of Jesus, 'Do this is memory of me'. The celebration of the mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation is essential to the practice of the Catholic faith."