Rev. Larry McNally, pastor of Ascension Parish in Oak Park, couldn’t remain silent.

“One of our catechists quit teaching religious ed. We’ve been losing lectors and communion ministers all along,” McNally said. “Then my spiritual director quit.”

Quit?

“Quit the church. Then I read the article by Sheila O’Brien in the Tribune [“Excommunicate me, please,” Aug. 4]. That got to me. I had to do it.”

“It” was a letter to the Commentary section of the Sun-Times, published Aug. 10, criticizing his church’s hierarchy for its treatment of women – specifically equating the ordination of women with pedophilia and investigating women’s religious orders.

This past Sunday, he wrote in the church bulletin, “As we celebrate this great feast of Mary, the Mother of God [Feast of the Assumption], I want to take this opportunity to say to all of our wonderful and virtuous women that I am sorry. I apologize to each one of you for the insensitive and harsh words coming from the Vatican male hierarchy of the church.”

“We have so many [women]religious who come to our church,” McNally said. “I felt I had to say something.”

As of Monday, he hadn’t received a single negative comment. He knows they’re coming, but he’s overwhelmed by the positive feedback he’s received.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “Sunday night I had 39 e-mails.”

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