The Catholic organisation We Are Church has said that women who say they are validly ordained priests are celebrating mass in people's homes here.

Its spokesman, Brendan Butler, said many Catholics are attending the gatherings.

However he cautioned that a breakaway church was not the way forward.

Operating in over 30 countries, We Are Church first galvanised German Catholics 16 years ago.

It collected over two million signatures in support of renewing Catholicism on the basis of what it claimed was the spirit that has been flowing from the Second Vatican Council over the past fifty years.

Today its Irish branch called for a silent vigil on Sunday week at the Papal Nunciature in Dublin in support of four identified priests and other unidentified Catholic writers here who it says the Vatican has silenced because of their unorthodox views on issues including women's ordination.

Mr Butler told RTÉ News that the women, who he describes as celebrating mass in people's homes, believe they have been validly but illicitly ordained as priests.

The claim to validity is based on the assertion that the bishop who ordained them was recognised at the time by the Papacy even though he was forbidden to ordain the women.