By Louise Walsh
A Co. Meath author has called for a "revision" of the role of women in the church after highlighting the important part played by them in the Easter story.
It comes only a few weeks after former President Mary McAleese said the Catholic Church is an "an empire of misogyny".
Today Dr Sharon Tighe-Mooney, author of the recently published book 'What About Me? - Women in the Catholic Church', has criticised the Church for not giving women the level of recognition they deserve.
Dr Tighe-Mooney, from Trim, started What About Me? four years ago after being shocked when the then Pope Benedict XVI upgraded the sin of ordaining women in 2010 when.
According to Dr Tighe-Mooney, it was always a sin that demanded excommunication, but in 2010 it was upgraded to "a much more serious category of sin and is now considered a crime against the sacraments".
She said: "The feast of the Resurrection of Christ is the high point of the Christian year and it is also the event in the Bible in which women feature most significantly.
"It was Jesus' women followers who witnessed his crucifixion and death. It was also Jesus' women followers who were the first witnesses to the resurrected Jesus.
"Notably, the disciples were not present at the crucifixion and were not the first to encounter the risen Jesus because they had deserted him after his arrest, according to the Bible."
Dr Tighe-Mooney then recounts the involvement of women in the Bible's story of the resurrection.
She said: "All of the gospels tell of the women witnessing the crucifixion and Mary Magdalene is named in three of the accounts.
"In the accounts of the Resurrection, the women go to the tomb as would be customary but in the earlier version of Mark's gospel, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene while in Matthew's account, Mary Magdalene and the 'other Mary' are instructed by an angel to tell the disciples that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
"On their way to tell the disciples, Jesus appears to both women again, telling them not to be afraid."
She points out that Mary Magdalene especially played a major part in the story.
She said: "Jesus' women followers, especially Mary Magdalene, therefore, play a pivotal role in the mission of recounting the story of his death and Resurrection. It was they who provided the testimony as witnesses to the events and they who told others about what had happened.
She ventured her own theory on why this is so.
She said: "The Christian story has long been focused on the doings of men, interpreted by men and taught by men.
"However, Jesus' women followers are key witnesses to the event that is a basic truth of the Christian Faith and an essential part of the teaching of the Church.
"The Catholic Church needs to revisit their stance on women who need to be more involved in the decisions of the Church."
"We're very involved at Parish level and at keeping things going there but very much excluded in terms of leadership and decision-making within the institutional church."
It follows on from Mrs McAleese's comments in Rome earlier this month ahead of a conference calling for women to be included in Church decision-making.
"The Catholic Church is one of the last great bastions of misogyny. It's an empire of misogyny," she said.
"There are so few leadership roles currently available to women. Women do not have strong role models in the Church that they can look up to."