For Immediate Release: 2 February 2018

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) notes with disappointment the news that organizers for a fifth annual event at the Vatican for International Women’s Day were told they could not feature former Irish president Mary McAleese and Ugandan activist Ssenfuka Joanita Warry.

Pope Francis has called repeatedly for fearless dialogue in the church. Yet, within the Vatican bureaucracy silencing and policing of women’s voices continues to be the status quo. It is reported that Cardinal Kevin Farrell’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life is responsible for the decision. No reason was cited, but McAleese is known as an outspoken advocate for women’s ordination and LGBT rights.

“For the past four years organizers have carefully curated the invited speakers and painstakingly avoided the topic of women’s ordination,” said Kate McElwee, executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference and member of WOW.  “While this turn of events is unfortunate, perhaps it is an opportunity to bring the Vatican’s role in the structural and spiritual oppression of women into this year’s discussion.”

WOW supports the organizers of Voices of Faith for continuing in their mission despite the lack of hospitality from the church hierarchy. As we know too well: we may be marginalized but we will not be silenced.


Contact WOW Leadership: 

Alicja Baranowska: (Belgium & Poland)  +32 488 67 60 20 [email protected]

Pat Brown: (UK) +44 7950048628 [email protected]

Colm Holmes: (Ireland)  +353 86 606 3636 [email protected]

Kate McElwee: (Italy & USA) +39 393 692 2100 [email protected]


Women’s Ordination Worldwide: Founded in 1996, WOW is an international network of groups whose current mission is the inclusion of women in all ordained ministries in the Roman Catholic Church. Founded on the principle of equality, WOW opposes all discrimination. ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’. (Galatians 3:28)