Belfast Telegraph

Former Irish president Mary McAleese calls church's teachings on homosexuality 'evil'

Former Irish president Mary McAleese has called the Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality "evil".

The Belfast native, originally from the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, was speaking ahead of the arrival of Pope Francis in Ireland later this month for the World Meeting of Families.

Mrs McAleese was in Dublin on Tuesday to receive the inaugural Vanguard award for her support of the LGBT+ community at the Gaze LGBT Film Festival, speaking at the closing night of the festival in Dublin's Light House Cinema.

She made her comments in the context of a shift in the position of the Catholic church on capital punishment, with Pope Francis last week changing the teaching to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. 

Mary McAleese

Speaking after the event to Irish broadcaster RTE, Mrs McAleese said: "I'm hoping that having done that last week, that maybe this week or in the weeks to come he will then challenge other doctrines which really in the light of science and in the light of the gospel of love have to be changed.

"I mean the church has to take responsibility for the damage inflicted on generations of men, women and children by the evil teaching that it holds around homosexuality."

Dr McAleese's Catholic faith has been part of her public profile since her time in the presidency, and she has been a long-time critic of its stance on homosexuality and has called for the introduction of female priests.

Earlier this week, she expressed disappointment at the "bad manners" of Pope Francis in not responding to a letter she sent him about being barred from the Vatican.

In an interview with The Irish Times on Wednesday she spoke about an attempt by the Vatican in 2003 to secure an agreement with Ireland for it not to access church documents.

She said she was approached by then Vatican secretary of state Angelo Sodano, who she said wanted to "protect Vatican and diocesan archives" and said she told him it was "extraordinarily inappropriate and very, very dangerous to the church, if it was pursued".

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