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Nun defies order not to attend women's ordination conference

The co-ordinator of the first international conference on women's ordination in the Catholic Church in Ireland at the weekend participated despite being banned from attending following Vatican intervention.

Sr Myra Poole lit the candle at the opening and attended a panel discussion on Saturday. The conference, organised by the Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) group, was attended by an estimated 345 delegates from 27 countries.

A member of the Notre Dame order who lives in London, the 68 year retired school principal was summoned together with her superior at the end of May to the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and for the Societies of Apostolic Life at the Vatican in connection with the conference.

Earlier in May the keynote speaker for the conference, Ms Aruna Gnanadason of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, was instructed to withdraw following forceful representations to the WCC by the Vatican. She did not speak but sent her text.

Another conference speaker, Sister Joan Chittister and her Benedictine community at Erie, Pennsylvania, came under similar pressure but she addressed the conference on Saturday.

Following their Vatican meeting, Sr Poole's superiors received three strongly worded letters from the Congregation, extracts from which were shown to her. Last week she was informed she would be dismissed from her order if she "set foot in Dublin".

She did not wish to discuss her situation pending a later statement, but said her order had been put in an impossible position.

Irish Times