Former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, had strong words for the Catholic Church while speaking in Scotland, condemning the hierarchy’s mostly negative approach to homosexuality and calling for greater transparency. Her speech occurs as controversy grows in Scotland following a priest’s suspension for offering similar insights.
McAleese’s remarks challenged Cardinal Keith O’Brien, formerly Scotland’s top Catholic official, to be open about his own homosexuality. The prelate, who has used strong language to condemn LGBT people, resigned last March after allegations of sexual misconduct with seminarians became public. Irish Central quotes McAleese as saying:
“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.”
More broadly, the former Irish president called homosexuality “not so much the elephant in the room but a herd of elephants” for the Church’s leaders who are in denial and continued:
” ‘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.’…
” ‘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 also mentioned a meeting with Ireland’s new Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, where homosexuality was discussed. McAleese mentioned a report to the nuncio attributing many youth suicides to the Catholic hierarchy’s harmful attitudes and language about being gay. Irish Central reports that the following exchange then occurred:
“She said [the nuncio] asked her ‘What do you want me to do? Do you want us to turn our back on tradition?’ Her answer was: ‘Yes, if it’s wrong.’ “
Such direct articulations by McAleese have won her praise from Fr. Tony Flannery, an Irish priest the Vatican has attempted to silence for his work on church reform, and the Association of Catholic Priests, according to The Journal.
Kudos to McAleese for publicly and forcefully speaking truths that are apparent to so many Catholics.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry