WOW Supports Fr. Roy Donovan, calls more clergy to speak out for equality


Alicja Baranowska: (Belgium & Poland)  +32 488 67 60 20

Pat Brown: (UK) +44 7950048628

Colm Holmes: (Ireland)  +353 86 606 3636

Kate McElwee: (Italy & USA) +39 393 692 2100

For Immediate Release - 12th August 2017

Women's Ordination Worldwide offers our support to Limerick parish priest, Fr. Roy Donovan, for his recent public statements in support of women's ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood and diaconate. 

We pray that more members of the clergy and hierarchy will speak out for women's full inclusion in our Church, joining the majority of Catholics around the world who support greater roles, including ordination, for women in the Church. 

The Church hierarchy must rid itself of the sin of sexism and once and for all, model its own Gospel values by recognizing women as equal partners in faith. 


Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW): 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)

Longing for the Sun of Justice

WOW Leadership Circle:     
Pat Brown (UK)

Alicja Baranowska (Belgium & Poland) +32488676020or +48694725337
Colm Holmes  (Ireland)                       

Kate McElwee (Italy & USA)


Press Release 22 July 2017

Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene (22 July) with the launch of Dr. Annette Esser’s beautiful original painting, "Longing for the Sun of Justice." The painting symbolizes women’s calling to priesthood, not granted by men in the church, but through Christ.

The painting shows two dissimilar hands varied in shape and color, joining together to resemble a chalice, illuminated by a blazoned sun in the place of a host along a horizon. You may also notice a small cross in the middle of the sun. Made whole and Holy by one another, the hands are united in the Sun, in Christ. 

WOW reaffirms our call for the institutional Church to rid itself of the sin of sexism and model unconditional equality by opening up all ministries to Catholic women who have the talent and vocation to serve their communities as St. Mary Magdalene did.

On the Feast of the "Apostle to the Apostles," we are reminded that Mary Magdalene followed Jesus' call to go and tell the Good News of the Resurrection, inspiring women for centuries to answer God's call to preach, minister, and live the Gospel message of equality.
Artist:  © Annette Esser, Oil and Gold on Canvas, 40x50cm (2017)


Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW), founded in 1996 at the First European Women's Synod in Austria, is an ecumenical network of national and international groups whose primary mission at this time is the admission of Roman Catholic women to all ordained ministries.

Advocates for women’s ordination to witness for equality on “Vocations Sunday”

Media Advisory

Contact: Alicja Baranowska: (Belgium & Poland)  +32 488 67 60 20

Pat Brown: (UK) +44 7950048628

Colm Holmes: (Ireland)  +353 86 606 3636

Kate McElwee: (Italy & USA) +39 393 692 2100

Women’s Ordination Worldwide advocates will mark “Vocations Sunday” (May 7th) with prayerful witnesses around the world -- from Dublin to Des Moines -- calling for women’s inclusion into all ministries of the Roman Catholic Church.

May 7th marks the 54th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations — a day when the global Church prays for the ministers of the Church and for “young men and women to hear and respond generously to the Lord’s call to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, [and] societies of apostolic life.”

While seemingly inclusive, this language neglects to footnote those ministries where women are rejected, silenced and punished for following their call to ordination. WOW recognizes that women are called to serve at every level of the Church, including the diaconate as well as priesthood.  The Roman Catholic Church’s exclusion of women perpetuates the inequality of women around the world.

On this day, WOW prays that our global Church may transform and renew its institution and practices to become a prophetic voice and witness for global gender justice. We pray that our Church will uphold the Gospel message of equality and honor the vocations and ministries of all its members.

At a time when women are leaving the Church more rapidly than any other group (Pew Research, 2015), and many go without the Eucharist because of a “priesthood shortage,” WOW calls the institutional Church to model equality and open all ministries to women.  


Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW): Founded in 1996, WOW is an international network of groups whose current mission is the inclusion of Roman Catholic women in all ordained ministries. WOW currently includes representatives from Austria, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, India, Malta, Poland, Spain, and the United States. For details of witness locations visit:

Pope Francis confirms he has a blind spot regarding women priests

For Immediate Release:

Kate McElwee: (Italy) +39 393 692 2100
Pat Brown: (UK) +44 7950048628
Alicja Baranowska: (Belgium & Poland)  +32 488 67 69 20
Colm Holmes: (Ireland)  +353 86 606 3636
Pope Francis is reported (1 Nov 2016) on a flight from Sweden as saying that the ban on priestly ordination for women will continue forever. Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) sees this as confirmation that Pope Francis has a blind spot as regards women. He prefers to place women high on a pedestal. Yet is was Mary the Mother of Christ who was the first to say: “This is my body, this is my blood.”
The oppression and poverty of women and girls around the world is reinforced when women and men are not seen as equally imaging God and this inequality in leadership, governance and ministry is reflected in our Church. It is long past due for the Church to rid itself of the sin of sexism and to welcome women as equal partners in all realms of ministry and leadership.
The community of faith recognises that women are called. Time for the church to do likewise.

Women’s Ordination Advocates celebrated Feast Day of Mary Magdalene in Krakow

Miriam Duignan: (UK): +44 7970 926910

Kate McElwee: (Italy) +39 393 692 2100

Pat Brown: (UK)

For Immediate Release:

Krakow, Poland: Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) celebrated their 20th Anniversary on the newly created liturgical Feast Day  of St. Mary Magdalene outside the Bishop’s House in Krakow where Pope John Paul II lived for 15 years.

With an official permit from the city and assigned police protection, WOW advocates wore purple stoles marked with “Ordain Women” and held posters of an image of Mary Magdalene preaching to the Apostles. Our signs, written in Polish, read: “Priestly Ordination for Women,” & “Mary Magdalene, Apostle and Priest.”

The international delegation from WOW requested a meeting with Cardinal Dziwisz and hand delivered a follow up letter to his office this afternoon. We are still waiting for a response, no meeting was granted so far.

Outside his former home, members of WOW appealed for a rejection of Pope John Paul II’s 1994 ban on the ordination of women and celebrated Mary Magdalene by calling for women’s full equality in the Church, including as ordained ministers.

As Pope Francis prepares for his flight to Poland for World Youth Day, WOW stood in witness to call on the Church to restore the priesthood for women who have the talent and vocation to serve their communities as St. Mary Magdalene did.


July 22nd, 2016 - Mary Magdalene (in GERMAN)

Zu Ehren von Maria aus Magdala, „Apostelin der Apostel“, feiern Vertreterinnen und Delegierte von Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) das neu aufgewertete Fest der Heiligen am 22. Juli 2016 in Krakau

Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW)* feiert in diesem Jahr das liturgische Fest der Maria aus Magdala, die nun offiziell als „Apostelin der Apostel“ anerkannt ist und erstmalig in diesem Jahr in den Allgemeinen Römischen Kalender einbezogen wurde.

 Aus diesem Anlass versammeln sich Vertreterinnen und Mitglieder von WOW im Stadtzentrum von Krakau bei dem Bischofshaus, wo Papst Johannes Paul II.  15 Jahre als Kardinal gelebt hat.

Sie werden das von diesem Papst i. J. 1994 erlassene definitive Verbot der Frauenordination öffentlich zurückweisen und in Erinnerung an Maria von Magdala für volle Gleichberechtigung der Frauen einschließlich ihrer Ordination eintreten. 

Maria aus Magdalas offizielle Anerkennung als von Jesus auserwählter Apostelin bekräftigt die rechtmäßige Fähigkeit von Frauen, „in persona Christi“ zu handeln und stellt das oft verleugnete Vermächtnis dieser Heiligen wieder her, die bedeutsam für unseren Glauben ist und gleichberechtigt neben ihren Apostel-Kollegen steht.

Ansprüche einer männlichen klerikalen Überlegenheit, die auf einer körperlichen Ähnlichkeit mit Jesus basieren, haben niemals überzeugen können, noch dienten sie der Kirche.

WOW fordert die Kirche auf, sich selbst von der Sünde des Sexismus zu befreien und sich für uneingeschränkte Gleichberechtigung einzusetzen, indem sie alle Ämter und Dienste für katholische Frauen öffnet, die die Fähigkeit und Berufung haben, ihren Gemeinden zu dienen, wie es auch die heilige Maria aus Magdala tat.

WOW feiert ebenfalls ihr 20jähriges Jubiläum im Juli und hält ihr jährliches Treffen in Krakau vor dem Besuch von Papst Franziskus am „Welt-Jugend-Tag“.

In den vergangenen 20 Jahren hat WOW alle noch vorhandenen Argumente gegen die Frauenordination entkräftet. Die offizielle Anerkennung der Bedeutung von Maria aus Magdala macht die Aufrechterhaltung einer ausschließlich männlichen Kirchenleitung unmöglich, – sie stärkt die Geschlechtergerechtigkeit.

Wir appellieren an Papst Franziskus: Er möge anerkennen, dass eine „Nachfolge Jesu von Gleichgestellten“ (discipleship of equals) und eine erneuerte Kirche nur dann möglich wird, wenn Frauen als gleichberechtigt akzeptiert werden und sie auf der gleichen Stufe mit den Männern (am kirchlichen Leben) teilnehmen können. 

*Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) wurde im Jahr 1996 auf der Ersten Europäischen Frauensynode in Österreich gegründet. Die Organisation ist ein ökumenisches Netzwerk von nationalen und internationalen Gruppen. Hauptaufgabe dieses Netzwerkes ist zur Zeit die Öffnung aller Weiheämter für römisch-katholische Frauen.

(Übersetzung aus dem Englischen: I. Raming)


Pope Francis will create a commission to study the possibility of women deacons - Women’s Ordination Worldwide responds

Miriam Duignan: UK (+44) (0)7970 926910

Kate McElwee: Italy (+39) 393-692-2100

Erin Saiz Hanna: USA (+1) 401-588-0457

Pat Brown: UK (+44)  (0)7950 048628

Therese Koturbash: (Canada) +1 205-648-5720


For Immediate Release - 12th May 2016

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) welcomes today’s news as a step forward in the right direction and we offer our support to Pope Francis in the setting up of the commission on women deacons. However, the restoration of an ordained women’s diaconate would not alone be a satisfactory progression to including women in all realms of Church leadership, governance, and sacramental ministry. – only ordination to the priesthood and episcopacy could begin to accomplish this.

WOW is grateful to the women religious who asked Pope Francis some challenging questions about the absence of women in our church. We are also grateful to Pope Francis for his honest answer - that there should be openness to considering women deacons but that he doesn’t yet know the full history of women’s leadership in the early Church.

We lament the fact that such a significant part of the story of our faith is not taught in seminaries, and that the contributions and callings of all women leaders in the church, including deacons, continue to be obscured and denied.

We call on all Catholics to model the bravery shown by the women religious in their meeting with Pope Francis and to keep asking why women are excluded from decision-making processes and leadership.

We are disappointed that Pope Francis told the nuns women cannot preach at Mass, because the priest serves “in persona Christi” and therefore only he can do this. We ask, how it can be that Mary Magdalene was chosen by Jesus to be the first preacher of the Gospel news, yet the pope still believes that maleness is the essential qualification to act in memory of Jesus. WOW calls for our Church to model unconditional equality by opening up ministries to all Catholics.

Francis referred to consecrated women as ‘icons of Mary’ whereas the priest is an icon of the apostles and disciples thus reinforcing the impossibility of women priests. We urge Pope Francis, at this time of renewed interest in the history of women in the Church, to take note of the fact that women were also named as disciples and apostles.

WOW will host a ‘Jubilee for Women Priests’ in Rome on June 1st to call for dialogue about full, not partial, equality:

WOW responds to Amoris Laetitia

For Immediate Release: 8 April 2016


  • Pat Brown: UK: (+44) (0)7950 048628

  • Miriam Duignan: UK (+44) (0)7970 926910

  • Kate McElwee: USA (+1) 607 725 1364

  • Therese Koturbash: Canada (+1) 204 648 5720

Pope Francis’ exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, released today at the Vatican offers seeds of hope for a Church moving away from general and strict doctrinal rules to one of grace and growth. This challenging, and at-times poetic document exhibits highs and lows, both championing pastoral discernment, the primacy of conscience, and even “the women’s movement,” but is riddled with an incomplete and painful understanding of feminism, reproductive health, gender, and sexual identity.

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) is encouraged by the document’s strong condemnation of violence and discrimination against women and the role of social movements to work for equality: “we must … see in the women’s movement the working of the Spirit for a clearer recognition of the dignity and rights of women.” Yet while Pope Francis also writes that he “values feminism,” he fails to include the modern sexism upheld by the Church’s hierarchy as part of the “patriarchal cultures that considered women inferior,” which has “burdened history.”

WOW also upholds the pope’s emphasis on the consciences of the faithful, “[who are] capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations.”  Primacy of one’s conscience allows individuals and families to “respond as best they can to the Gospel,” which WOW believes must include discernment of all vocations to family and loving relationships, reproductive health, and ordained ministry.  

Nevertheless, disappointment is interspersed throughout Amoris Laetitia, as too often women’s “dignity” is substituted for women’s “equality,” denying the full and equal participation of women in Church decision-making and ordained ministries. Pope Francis also reinforces the Church’s stance on motherhood, LGBT families and adoption, transgender people, and reproductive health care choices. This is a missed opportunity to recognize the full equality and faithful paths of all people. We pray that the exhortation unfolds and challenges the Church to more deeply live the Gospel message of equality.




January 25, 2016

For Immediate Release


  • Pat Brown: UK: (+44) (0)7950 048628

  • Miriam Duignan: UK (+44) (0)7970 926910

  • Kate McElwee: Italy (+39) 393-692-2100

  • Therese Koturbash: Canada (+1) 204 648 5720

  • Marilyn Hatton: Australia (+62) 26262 6159

Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) welcomes Pope Francis’ call to include women in foot washing ceremonies and hope it signifies a bolder approach to ending sexist exclusion

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) welcomes Pope Francis’ formal decree confirming that women can and should be part of Holy Thursday foot washing ceremonies. We commend Pope Francis for moving our Church one step closer to the inclusiveness modeled by Jesus.

This may seem like a small move forward because women have already been included in this rite for many years in some churches. The fact that it is still prohibited by some parish priests around the world betrays the reality of the challenge women face at a local level, with many Church officials refusing to include women in the Last Supper commemoration.

Decrees such as this one from Pope Francis are important, because they send an official signal to the entire Catholic world that change, even when it is incremental, is happening. Jesus was taught the symbolic ritual of feet washing by a woman and we know that there were women present at his last Passover meal on Holy Thursday. If we are to be truly faithful to our tradition, women must be included in all our rituals and sacraments and we must continue to challenge those clerics who cling to their own interpretation of tradition, based on sexism alone. As Pope Francis warned earlier this week, those 'who say “it’s always been done that way,” and stop there have hearts closed to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. They are idolaters and rebels who will never arrive at the fullness of the truth'.

We eagerly anticipate the day when women, head, heart, hands and feet will be fully welcome in the sacramental and governing leadership of our Church.'

Women’s Ordination Advocates Support Irish Priests’ Statement on Women: Call for Greater Moral Courage of Catholic Hierarchy to Join Grassroots

For Immediate Release: November 12, 2015




Pat Brown: UK: +44(0)7950048628

Miriam Duignan: UK (+44) 7970 926910

Erin Saiz Hanna: USA (+1) 401-588-0457

Kate McElwee: Italy (+39) 393-692-2100

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) extends our deepest gratitude to the twelve Irish priests who publicly signed their names to a statement calling for open discussion on the need for equality for women in all aspects of Church life, including ministry. Calling the situation “damaging,” “alienating” and “scandalizing,” the priests stressed that the policy of discrimination against women upheld by the Catholic Church “encourages” and “reinforces” abuse and violence against women around the world.

“We believe that we can no longer remain silent because to do so colludes with the systemic oppression of women within the Catholic Church,”  the priests’ statement reads.

Pope John Paul II’s 1994 Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, recently called “an abuse of his power,” by Eamonn Duffy, Professor of History at Cambridge University, is an offensive, out-dated, and fallible attempt to control Catholic thought, and moreover, Catholic women.

For more than two decades, employees at Catholic institutions have risked their jobs and ministries by speaking and writing about women’s ordination; clerics and women religious have been excommunicated, dismissed and silenced for their support; and for an even longer time women have felt the pain and humiliation of having their priestly vocations rejected.

WOW hopes that the moral courage of these Irish priests inspires others to stand in solidarity with all those who believe in equality in our institutions and in our faith. When male priests and those in positions of authority in our Church speak out, they not only do what is just, but they join they grassroots movements of many Catholics around the world who are tirelessly calling for equality.



Women's Ordination Worldwide

For Immediate Release

6 October 2015

Response On Women Deacons Discussed at Vatican Synod

Contact :

  • Miriam Duignan: UK (+44) 7970 926910
  • Kate McElwee: Italy (+39) 393-692-2100
  • Erin Saiz Hanna: USA (+1) 401-588-0457

Rome, Italy: Recent statements made by Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec during the Vatican's Synod on the Family suggests an emergence of a discussion about including women in the ordained permanent diaconate. We applaud Archbishop Durocher for raising the suggestion to the exclusively male-voting body, and furthermore, for highlighting the relationship between the "degradation" of women in Church and society and violence against women around the world.

We call on our Church leaders to state clearly that "domination" over women is never acceptable, and until women are empowered as equals our Church perpetuates an inequality contrary to the Gospel. We pray that women's voices will not only be heard in forthcoming discussions, but given an equal vote.

Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) supports the restoration of the sacramentally ordained diaconate for women in its true form. Including women in the diaconate would not be something new. Instead the Church would be returning to its ancient roots when both women and men were deacons. While the women's diaconate continues in some parts of the Eastern Church even until today, we also now know that in the West, it was suppressed only on account of the prejudice against women.

Though restoration of an ordained women's diaconate would not alone be a satisfactory progression to including women in all realms of Church leadership, governance, and sacramental ministry - only ordination to the priesthood and episcopacy could begin to accomplish this - WOW supports restoration of the diaconate. It is long overdue. The so-called changing 'reasons' that have been used to try to justify the exclusion of women from ordained ministry rests squarely on the shoulders of prejudice alone.

The hierarchy deprives people of the pastors God calls for them and of the leadership gifts found in women who would serve the Church; upholding this discrimination, as though it were the will of God, is simply indefensible.


#‎Synod15 #‎ordainwomen


WOW's position statement on restoration of the ordained women's diaconate is found here:


Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW): 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)

WOW currently includes representatives from Australia, Bangladesh,Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Malta, Poland, and the United States.

WOW's 3rd International Conference, 'Gender, Gospel, and Global Justice' was recently held in Philadelphia 18-20 September 2015. For more visit

WOW on the web:


Details: 18 - 20th Sept, Marriott Downtown Philadelphia, 1201 Market St

Contact: Miriam Duignan: (+1) 510- 984- 8678

Philadelphia, PA: Five hundred women's ordination advocates and leaders from 19 countries and 5 continents will gather in Philadelphia, September 18-20th to call for ordination and equality for women in the Roman Catholic Church.  As Pope Francis arrives in the United States, Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) urgently calls on the institutional Church to model equality and end the unjust treatment of women. 

The theme of the conference, "Gender, Gospel, and Global Justice," links the exclusion of women from priesthood to the greater inequalities and injustices experienced by women worldwide.  Speakers include, Sr. Teresa Forcades, Tina Beattie, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Mary E. Hunt, Sr. Theresa Kane, Shannen Dee Williams, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Fr. Tony Flannery, Sr. Christine Schenk, Kate Kelly, Asra Nomani, Sr. Maureen Fiedler, and Barbara Blaine. See schedule here.

"Our hope for the conference is to mainstream the conversation about women's ordination as a social justice issue," said Kate McElwee, organizer and co-executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference.

"We call out sexism when we see it in our schools, the workplace, and in politics, but when it comes to the Catholic Church, far too many look the other way. Women's leadership is integral to all aspects of church and society and it is long overdue that our church opens the door to the ordination of women." Erin Saiz Hanna, organizer and co-executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference. 

"Women's Ordination Worldwide urges Pope Francis to recognize that maintaining false teaching to keep women excluded from priesthood legitimizes prejudice throughout the world. Pope Francis' integrity as a faith leader is compromised by his refusal to recognize women as fully human and able to discern their own vocations. Pope Francis' mission must include freeing the Church from the sin of sexism," stated Miriam Duignan, organizer and communications director of the Wijngaard's Institute for Catholic Research.

"Pope Francis and the Catholic Church must model equality by opening all ministries, including ordination, to women. As an institution that educates and provides healthcare and services to millions of women and girls globally, the Catholic Church must model full equality as the cornerstone of its mission," McElwee continued.