Mary McAleese unrepentant over Catholic Church criticisms

Mary McAleese unrepentant over Catholic Church criticisms
Former president Mary McAleese. 12/8/2002 Photo:

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese said she stands by her blistering critique of the Catholic Church for misogyny and mistreatment of women. She made her remarks at a conference in Rome on International Women’s Day.

The venue had been changed from the Vatican after the hierarchy sought to ban her from attending because of her support for gay rights and allowing women into the priesthood.

This week, speaking on Irish radio, she said she not only stood over every word as a devout Catholic but also revealed her brother had been “seriously, physical, sadistically” abused by paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finnegan. She said the abuse happened throughout her brother’s seven years at St Colman’s College in Newry where Finnegan, who died in 2002, taught for 20 years. She said her brother, the youngest of nine children, never revealed the abuse until he was 49 and that her mother had only found out about it three weeks ago.

Repeating her trenchant criticisms she said she had not been speaking as a former President but rather as a practicing and devout member of the Catholic Church. Mrs McAleese was the opening speaker at the conference on the theme: The time is now for change in the Catholic Church. She said the Catholic Church hated women and “has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny.”

“It has never sought a cure though a cure is freely available. Its name is ‘equality’,” she said.

Former President McAleese, who is a Professor in Church or Canon Law, said many “experience the church as a male bastion of patronising platitudes”.

Mary McAleese unrepentant over Catholic Church criticisms

She included the late Pope John Paul II in this condemnation for using phrases like “the mystery of women”.

“Talk to us as equals and we will not be a mystery,” she declared. As for Pope Francis’s comments that “a deeper theology of women” is needed, she was withering.

“God knows it would be hard to find a more shallow theology of women than the misogyny dressed up as theology which the magisterium currently hides behind,” she said.

“Today the Catholic Church lags noticeably behind the world’s advanced nations in the elimination of discrimination against women,” she said.

She continued: “Worse still, because it is the ‘pulpit of the world’, to quote (former UN Secretary General) Ban Ki-Moon, its overt clerical patriarchalism acts as a powerful brake on dismantling the architecture of misogyny wherever it is found.”

The Catholic Church regularly criticises the secular world for its failure to deliver on human rights ‘(but) has almost no culture of critiquing itself.

“It has a hostility to internal criticism which fosters blinkered servility and which borders on institutional idolatry”.

The former President said: “Down the 2,000 year highway of Christian history came the ethereal divine beauty of the Nativity, the cruel sacrifice of the Crucifixion, the hallelujah of the Resurrection and the rallying cry of the great commandment to love one another but down that same highway came man-made toxins such as misogyny and homophobia to say nothing of anti-Semitism with their legacy of damaged and wasted lives and deeply embedded institutional dysfunction.”

“We challenge Pope Francis to develop a credible strategy for the inclusion of women as equals throughout the church’s root and branch infrastructure,” she said.

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