Former Irish president McAleese accuses Catholic Church of ‘homophobic’ attitude


Wed Jan 15, 2014 - 2:44 pm EST

IRELAND, January 15, 2014 ( – Former Irish President Mary McAleese, a dissident Catholic who is an outspoken support of homosexuality and women priests,  has criticized Catholic teaching on marriage and family as “homophobic” and “completely contradictory to modern science and to modern understanding”.

Referring to disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien, McAleese suggested that Catholic opposition to homosexuality is the result of closeted homosexuals within Church leadership hoping to divert attention from themselves by raising a voice against homosexuality “in the most homophobic way”. 

“Things written by Benedict, for example, were completely contradictory to modern science and to modern understanding, and to the understanding of most Catholics nowadays in relation to homosexuality,” she said prior to a lecture at the Royal Society of Edinburgh given in December, reported the Herald Scotland. “Nowadays, it is not something that is perceived as something that is intrinsically disordered. Homosexual conduct is not seen as evil.” 

O'Brien, who resigned last year as the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland after admitting to sexual misconduct with seminary students in the early 1980s, was known as one of the UK’s most outspoken supporters of true marriage. He had described homosexual activity as “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved” and vigorously opposed attempts by the British and Scottish governments to enshrine gay “marriage” in law. He also defended the prerogative of Catholic adoption agencies to refuse adoption to homosexual partners. 

“I would have thought Cardinal Keith O'Brien, in telling the story of his life – if he was willing to do that – could have been of great assistance to gay people, not just in the Church but elsewhere, who felt over many, many years constrained to pretend to be heterosexual while at the same time acting a different life,” McAleese said. 

McAleese said the Catholic Church is in denial over homosexuality, calling the denial “not so much the elephant in the room but a herd of elephants”. 

“I don't like my Church's attitude to gay people. I don't like 'love the sinner, hate the sin'. If you are the so-called sinner, who likes to be called that? We also know that within the priesthood a very large number of priests are gay.” 

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman and has been created by God as the best environment to create and rear children. Christianity holds that homosexuality is a perversion of God’s plan and immoral. 

In her 2012 book “Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law,” McAleese suggested that Catholic teaching on sexuality might be a form of “child abuse.” 

“The heterocentricity of Catholic teaching …is now being looked at critically in the light of the deadly consequences of homophobic bullying, with research, mainly in the United States, showing a tragic link between male youth suicide and homosexuality. Could church teaching on homosexuality be the new psychological child abuse issue of the coming decade?” she wrote. 

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McAleese was a founding member and legal advisor for the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform that successfully pushed Ireland’s parliament to legalize same-sex activity in 1993. One of the closing acts of her presidency was to sign into law the country’s first Civil Partnership bill granting homosexuals similar rights and privileges to married men and women. The bill made it a crime for marriage registrars to refuse to conduct civil ceremonies for homosexuals, even if they had conscience objections. 

McAleese has been working towards a canon law degree in Rome with the hope of changing the Church’s teaching on sexuality and marriage.