This article pertains to the relationship between exclusion and ministry. In it, I suggest that the vulnerability entailed by the threat and actuality of exclusion can act as common ground between those who experience different, more tangible, vulnerabilities (relating, for example, to gender, sexuality, or disability). Furthermore, I want to argue for the value in ministry undertaken by the excluded themselves: not for the institutional sanctioning of individuals deemed unfit for ministry but, rather, for the sacredness of ministerial endeavours outside of the institutional church (where selective inclusivity alienates the marginalized and vulnerable). To illustrate this, I discuss the public life and work of Sinéad O'Connor, the controversial Irish musician and priest. O'Connor advocates for an "alternative," broadly Christian "church," attempting to destabilize the relationship between unfamiliarity and vulnerability, for example, through her self-identification as a female Catholic priest and her active ministry. Drawing from René Girard's mimetic theory, Michel de Certeau's account of necessary boundaries, and Judith Butler's discussion of alterity between the self and the other, I contend that vulnerability to exclusion, modelled in community, can engender radical openness to difference, thereby facilitating inclusivity, even within complex, intersectional communities. This openness to difference can render contentious figures like O'Connor more, and not less, suitable for ministry, able as they are to minister where the church cannot.


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pp. 178-192
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