Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality is ‘evil,’ says former Ireland president
Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese has lashed out at the Catholic Church for its “evil” teachings on homosexuality.
But the 67-year-old, who led her country from 1997 to 2011, said she still hoped for a seismic shift from Pope Francis, who earlier this year said gay applicants to the priesthood should be rejected just days after telling a gay man that “God made you like this.”
McAleese’s comments came ahead of the Pope’s visit to Ireland on August 25-26, which will see Taoiseach Leo Varadkar raise LGBT+ rights with the pontiff.
The former President, a longtime supporter of LGBT rights who successfully campaigned for the Yes side in Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum, said she had drawn encouragement from the Pope changing the Church’s stance on the death penalty earlier this month.
McAleese, who was speaking as she accepted the Vanguard Award at the Gaze LGBT Film Festival in Dublin, said that the excuse often given by the Church was that Catholic doctrines were fixed.
The Pope’s comments about the death penalty, she said, had “exploded that myth,” RTE has reported.
In June, McAleese marched in Dublin Pride with her son and his husband.
At the time, she said: “We are family and that is what we will be showcasing – showcasing Ireland at its absolute best.”
The Pope is coming to Ireland to attend the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic event that has attracted controversy in the country due to its alleged exclusion of the LGBT community.
Several Catholic LGBT groups have come forward to allege that they are being deliberately blocked from participating in the event, while materials referring to same-sex couples were removed from a pamphlet ahead of the conference.
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Pro-LGBT Catholic group We Are Church Ireland and the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics both alleged this month that their applications for an exhibit booth at the World Meeting of Families were blocked, illustrating the Church’s apparent desire to exclude LGBT Catholics from the “families” conference.
We Are Church Ireland also went public to allege that the group is “being refused an exhibition stand” at the event “because WAC Ireland stands for the full equality of Women and LGBTQI people.”
We Are Church Ireland said: “Almost fortnightly, we have rung the WMoF inquiring about the status of our application. The constant reply has been: ‘Yes, we received your application but it is on hold.'”
Earlier this year, Varadkar expressed a “hope” that LGBT families would also be celebrated at the event.