(Some) Irish grandmothers to boycott Masses Sept 26

Below is a press release concerning the Sunday Mass boycott scheduled for this weekend in Ireland. 80-year-old Jennifer Sleeman called for the boycott last month as a protest of the Catholic Church’s treatment of women and the scandal of clerical child sex abuse.

Not all Irish grandmothers agree with Sleeman's idea.

Catherine Wiley, a grandmother of 10 and founder of the Catholic Grandparents’ Association, has said that boycotting Mass “is exactly what Catholics shouldn’t do, because to turn your back on Mass it to turn your back on God.”

Instead of boycotting, Wiley called for Catholic grandparents to a pilgrimage to Knock on Sept. 12. More than 10,000 attended. One attendee said, "It’s a sign that the faith is really strong in Ireland contrary to what the media is saying."


For Immediate Release

Contact: Kristine Ward, www.nsacoalition.org, 937-272-0308, KristineWard@hotmail.com

The United States based National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) supports the Sunday, September 26 Mass boycott in Ireland and calls upon Catholics in the United States and around the world to boycott in solidarity.

NSAC takes this action because the boycott is rooted in a response to the sexual abuse scandal and justice for women.

The coalition does not take this action because we do not understand the value of the Mass or the Sunday obligation. We do.

The Irish boycott was called by Jennifer Sleeman, an 80 year old Irish woman in Clonakilty, Cork, who is the mother of a monk and 54 years a convert to Catholicism. Her call to action came after the release of the Murphy and Ryan reports in Ireland through which horrible revelations of abuse of children came to light along with the protection of abusers by bishops and religious superiors.

NSAC's founders know that there is aversion by Catholics in the pew to raise their heads above the water line to take any visible actions against priests and bishops even when the cause is just and right.

We don't understand this aversion but we acknowledge its exists. We also know the weight of it contributes to continued suffering by the survivors and buttresses a hierarchy's deflection of responsibility. Sexual abuse is a crime. There has never been an hour, a day or a year when it was right for the innocent and vulnerable to be raped and sodomized.

No one should know this better than Bishops, the Pope and the Vatican Curia. Yet it has taken massive news coverage on three continents and investigations by two civil governments to provoke even the weakest of responses from the Church. To add insult to injury the weak response is touted as major reform.

Pope Benedict XVI has more than 20 years of experience in seeing the very reports of sexual abuse that the people of Ireland and the rest of the world have come to know in the news media revelations. His knowledge comes both from being the Archbishop of Munich and heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is against this backdrop that the boycott is called.

This Sunday presents an opportunity for Catholics in a quiet, private absence from their pew in their Catholic parish to open a slit for the piercing of the darkness. No rabble rousing is needed only silence.

By standing in solidarity with the Irish boycott we hope for its success that in the emptiness Wisdom may enter in.

We encourage our readers, women and men, to re-arrange this week's usual encounter with the Lord at Mass to leave a visible openness in their usual pew in their usual parish.

Out of the void, God created.

----Kristine Ward, NSAC Chair

NSAC is a volunteer organization of practicing Catholics and men and women of goodwill working to educate and reform the Church and society about sexual abuse and its consequences. NSAC sent an evoy, Mike Coode, to the United Kingdom to bear witness to the need for justice and reparation for the survivors during Pope Benedict’s UK trip and to search for advocates.

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