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ROME, March 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Former Irish president Mary McAleese celebrated International Women’s Day this year by slamming the Catholic Church from across the street of Vatican City — where she’d been banned from speaking — as “one of the last great bastions of misogyny.”

Not to mention “an empire of misogyny,” and “a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny.”

Notorious for her longtime advocacy of women “priests,” homosexuality and abortion, McAleese was a headliner at the fourth annual gathering of Voices of Faith, a collective of Catholic feminists lobbying for more say for women in the Church.

Or, as they put it on their website, to “push for bold and necessary change within the Holy See.”

This year, the event, called Why Women Matter, had to move from its traditional location in the Vatican to the Jesuit Center in Rome after Cardinal Kevin Farrell denied McAleese permission to speak in the Vatican.

Farrell, head of the dicastery for laity, family and life, did so on the basis that holding an event in the Vatican presumes papal support, reported the liberal-leaning Catholic weekly The Tablet.

McAleese, who once studied canon law in Rome, railed against the Church in a pre-conference press conference, describing the Catholic prohibition on ordaining women as “codology” not theology, and the Church as a “last bastion of misogyny,” reported the Tablet.

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McAleese, whose son is openly homosexual, also maintains the Church’s characterization of same-sex orientation as “disordered” can lead to harmful internal conflicts in homosexual Catholics, it reported.

She also blasted the Church as “an empire of misogyny,” the BBC reported, and said a Catholic hierarchy that is “homophobic and anti-abortion is not the Church of the future.”

McAleese’s conference address Thursday carried on in the same vein.

“Women are walking away from the Catholic Church in droves,” she declared, as quoted in the Tablet. She warned Pope Francis this exodus would continue unless he came up with a “credible strategy” to give women equal roles in the Church.

“Failure to include women as equals has deprived the Church of fresh and innovative discernment; it has consigned it to recycled thinking among a hermetically sealed cosy male clerical elite flattered and rarely challenged,” said McAleese.

The Catholic Church “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.

“John Paul II has written of the ‘mystery of women’. Talk to us as equals and we will not be a mystery,” she said, as quoted in the Irish Times.

But according to Dr. Carrie Gress, author of the recently released The Marian Option: God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis, McAleese has it all wrong.

“There is a lot of irony here, as well as a deep misunderstanding of history,” Gress told LifeSiteNews in an email.

“It is through the Church, particularly the influence of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that women in western civilization have had their dignity upheld as equal to men. This didn’t come from Judaism or Islam,” she said.

“We can see from the saints, for example, the friendship between Pope Saint John Paul II and St. Teresa of Kolkuta, that the holier people become, the more their gifts and dignity are upheld,” noted Gress, who has doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America and is a faculty member at Pontifex University.

“So when there is misogyny, it is because those in the Church are not being faithful to their true calling,” she told LifeSiteNews.

Moreover, what McAleese “sees as misogyny in this instance is a distortion of women’s anthropology. Equality for women should never be measured by how much women are like men. We have different gifts, talents, and purposes in society and the Church,” observed Gress.

“Sadly, statistically women are not thriving under the model presented by Ms McAleese and feminist elites. Every metric suggests widespread unhappiness among women, such as obesity, suicide, substance abuse, and depression rates,” she said.

“Women are longing for deeper meaning and the Church is the only place offering something different. It continues to uphold the dignity of women as it has since Christ touched the hearts of St. Mary Magdalene or the Woman at the Well.”

The Voice of the Faith conference was attended by a “several hundred strong gathering of ambassadors, academics, female executives and a handful of clerics” but no official representative from the Vatican, according to the Tablet.  

The organizers want Pope Francis “to set up a women’s commission which is set out in a paper of proposals they have submitted to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State,” it reported.


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