Opinion & Analysis

Letter from Rome

5:07 PM, March 5, 2018

Vatican City:Cardinal Farrell defends banning women's group from meeting at the Vatican.

Screengrab from Youtube video.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell – prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life – has for the first time publicly defended his decision to deny a group called "Voices of Faith" from holding its fourth annual Women's Day event inside the Vatican as it had done the previous three years.

At a book launch on March 1 in a conference center at Jesuit headquarters in Rome, the cardinal seemed to suggest that the women's group had de facto announced his sponsorship of their event before telling him specifically what it was about and who would be speaking. Ironically, he made his comments in the very room where the international women's group will now hold its March 8 gathering.

Early last month officials from "Voices of Faith" revealed that the Irish-born cardinal, who has been in his current post at the Vatican since August 2016, had withheld permission for three people slated to speak at their event, including Ireland's former president, Mary McAleese.

Chantal Gotz, the group's managing director, told the Irish Independent in early February that the constraint on speakers was "unacceptable" and had forced organizers to leave the Vatican in favor of the nearby headquarters of the Society of Jesus.

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