From THE TABLET, 1 November 2018

CATHOLIC peer Baroness (Nuala) O’Loan has said she believes there will be women priests in the Catholic Church, and that the Church will change faster on this than many expect.

Giving the keynote address at a conference on women and the Catholic Church hosted by the Notre Dame – Newman Centre for Faith and Reason in Dublin, the former Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and member of the House of Lords said “there is change afoot” in the Church.

Noting Pope Francis’ appointment of three women consultants to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in April this year, Baroness O’Loan commented: “Things are changing; women do now walk the corridors of the Vatican and they are listened to.”

She also stressed that “much remains to be done”. On the treatment of women by the Church, she observed: “There is something in the culture of our Church which is unhealthy, that needs to change fundamentally if we are to be the Church that Christ intended us to be.”

Speaking to The Tablet, Baroness O’Loan stressed she was not personally calling for women’s ordination. “What I am saying is that as a Church we are very much discerning. We have heard cardinals speak of the possibilities, and I think the Spirit will move to help us discern a way forward in this area and I think it might happen quicker than we expect,” she said.

She added: “I do have this expectation that ultimately it may reveal itself that there will be women priests and married priests. But I don’t think we need a battle for power in the Church. It’s about discernment.”