Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese has issued a stinging attack on the Catholic Church and its stance on homosexuality and women in the priesthood.
Professor McAleese was speaking at the ‘Women the Vatican Couldn’t Silence’ conference as part of her new role as Chancellor at Trinity College Dublin.
McAleese said she believes the Catholic priesthood is based around a “fundamental lie”.
She spoke about her own experiences studying for a doctorate in canon law in Rome.
McAleese said: “I became very much aware of the dysfunction at the heart of seminary life and the dysfunction at the heart of much of the priesthood.
“The number of fake-hetero misogynistic homophobic gays I met frightened me. The homophobia of people who are gay is a lie – it is a vicious lie. But they live it and in living it, apart from making themselves miserable, they also make a lot of other people miserable.
“Their capacity for dispersing misery is really immense. That worries me greatly.”
Dr McAleese also criticised the church regarding its position towards women, claiming it is designed to maintain the invisibility and the powerlessness of women.
She quoted the late Pope John Paul II, from his book ‘Love and Responsibility’.
It states that in the act of sex in a marriage, the woman “is a comparatively passive partner whose function is to accept and experience. For the purpose of the sexual act it is enough for her to be passive and unresisting, so much so that it can even take place without her volition while she is in a state in which she has no awareness at all of what is happening – for instance when she is asleep or unconscious”.
McAleese reminded the audience of around 400 people that the late Irish theologian Father Seán Fagan had questioned Pope John Paul on this saying it sounded like rape.
She then summarised: “What happened? Pope John Paul becomes a saint. Seán Fagan becomes silenced. That’s our church.”