Cardinal bans McAleese from Vatican event
Former President of Ireland and Canon law expert Mary McAleese was banned from an International Women’s Day conference at the Vatican because of her support for gay rights.
The event was organised by the Voices of Faith group, which is seeking to “empower and advocate for Catholic women to have a seat at the table of decision making in the Catholic Church”.
The inclusion of McAleese and Ugandan LGBT advocate Ssenfuka Joanita Warry on the speaker panel was opposed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.
The decision was roundly criticised by Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests. It also criticised the decision to remove photos of same-sex couples from booklets for this year’s World Meeting of Families (WMOF) which were circulated to Irish parishes. The WMOF will be held in Dublin during the summer and will be visited by Pope Francis, the first Irish visit by a Pope since 1979.
Devout Catholic Mrs McAleese is also a longtime supporter of LGBT rights. Her son Justin McAleese, who is gay, was a high-profile campaigner during the 2015 same-sex marriage referendum. Voices of Faith decied to move the event to the Aula of the Jesuit Curia, elsewhere in Rome and both McAleese and Warry are still scheduled to speak at the event.
Chantal Goetz, executive director of Voices of Faith: “It was disappointing to realise that on International Women’s Day of all days, these women who have accomplished so much in their communities could be turned away from respectfully sharing their stories and experiences as Catholics.”
Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said he only heard about McAleese’s barring from the former president herself.
The statement reads: “Neither Archbishop Martin nor his offices were consulted by the Vatican in relation to this matter. Archbishop Martin has consistently noted that the WMOF will be an inclusive event, open to all families and family members.