Religion

Former Irish president Mary McAleese condemns Vatican ‘idiots’ for ‘deliberately hurting’ LGBT+ people

Patrick Kelleher May 17, 2021
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Mary McAleese Catholic Church

Mary McAleese. (Brian Lawless - WPA Pool/Getty)

Mary McAleese, the former Irish president, has condemned the Vatican for “deliberately hurting” LGBT+ people with its recent ban on blessings for same-sex couples.

There was widespread disappointment among LGBT+ Catholics in March when the Vatican’s Congregation fo the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) released an explanatory note prohibiting priests from offering blessings to same-sex couples.

During a conversation with Irish LGBT+ charity ShoutOut, Mary McAleese – who is also a theologian and a staunch critic of the Catholic Church – hit out at the Vatican’s treatment of the LGBT+ community.

McAleese said church teaching needs to be up for discussion among Catholics across the world, and said it can’t simply be decided upon by a small group of “male celibates in Rome”.

The former president said it would have been “bad enough” if the Vatican had simply banned blessings for same-sex couples, but she said what was even more hurtful was its decision to release a wide-ranging note seeking to explain its decision.

Mary McAleese ‘grieved’ over ‘appalling’ ban on blessings for same-sex couples

McAleese – who has a gay son – said the language used by the Vatican in its explanatory note was “simply appalling”.

“The thing that really caught me, and I just grieved over it, was saying that couples who are gay and who are married in civil relationships are not capable of receiving or expressing grace. Imagine – not capable of receiving or expressing grace.

“What came into my mind was the day after the same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland, on the day when we knew we had won the referendum, those of us who had been involved in campaigning, we knew we’d won. I felt a flood of grace literally like a tsunami take over all of this island. That was real grace.”

McAleese went on to reflect on her son’s wedding several years ago, explaining that he and his husband opted for a Christian ceremony. A number of priests and bishops came forward and offered to bless their relationship, but the couple turned them down because they felt that they were blessing each other by choosing to get married.

“They blessed each other, and we who were the members of the congregation, we blessed them, and I think that was enough for them,” McAleese said.

“But for a lot of people it would matter. It mattered a lot that a bishop or a priest would offer them a blessing – that was what inclusion felt like. And now to be told they can’t even have that, it must hurt desperately. It does hurt desperately, I know from talking to them it does hurt desperately.

“And isn’t it an awful thing for an organisation that claims to be the hands and the heart of God’s love to deliberately hurt people, good people. There’s something wrong there.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Mary McAleese – who is a lifelong Catholic – said she will remain a part of the church and she will keep advocating for change.

“This God that I certainly believe in is a loving God. Unfortunately, this loving God has to act in this world sometimes through people who are complete pillocks and who are idiots, and over the history of all churches, including the Catholic Church, sometimes the leadership has not been the most intelligent, the most benign, the most charitable, the most decent, the most clever, the most right. Sometimes it has been appallingly, outrageously wrong,” she explained.

Related topics: Mary McAleese

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