Hundreds of Portland Catholics
passed on morning Mass today to gather at the rain-soaked Park Blocks near Shemanski fountain for over 90 minutes of songs, prayers, and testimonials calling for greater inclusion of women within the Catholic church.
The local "prayerful public witness event"
arose shortly after 80-year-old Irish grandmother Jennifer Sleeman called for an Ireland-wide boycott
of Mass for Sept. 26. This Portland event drew men and women from as far as 30 miles away to witness what organizer Sarah Granger called the "beginning of a movement" to change leadership opportunities for women in the Catholic church.
Unlike many Protestant dominations, Catholicism does not allow women into the clergy. And instead of leaving the church in response to that policy, Catholics like St. Juan Diego parishioner Donna Wiench say they are more interested in working out the "dysfunctions" in their "family."
"The church is like your family. You don't leave your family, "said Wiench after the event.
As WW reported on Sept. 22
, Archbishop John Vlazny
didn't exactly support the cause or the event, with his spokesman saying Catholics should not miss the Eucharist.
Sister Kathleen McManus
, a nun and theology instructor at University of Portland
attended the event as a supporter. She says though she may not entirely agree with the Archbishop, she sympathizes with Vlazny's "difficult position" as the top church official in western Oregon.
"He's acknowledged the pain and the suffering that gave rein to this event," said McManus after the event. "That's a lot for an archbishop to do."