Mary McAleese in dig at Rome over stance on gay priests
The Catholic Church refused to be drawn into controversy after former Irish President Mary McAleese suggested it was more concerned with policing gay priests than pastoral service.
Belfast-born Dr McAleese was speaking at the Daniel O'Connell Summer School in Co Kerry in the wake of revelations about trainee priests at Maynooth seminary using a gay dating app.
Dr McAleese, whose son Justin was bullied for being gay, said there were homosexuals "who are fine priests".
"They haven't been able to come to terms with that because the teaching of my Church, the Catholic Church, tells them that homosexuality is, of its nature, intrinsically disordered - those are the words of Pope Benedict, and that homosexual acts are, in his words, evil."
A Catholic Church spokesman said: "Typically we wouldn't comment on the remarks of an individual member of the faithful if she is speaking in a personal capacity, not a public person. She doesn't hold public office now."
Church of Ireland clergyman and editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette Ian Ellis said it was a matter for the Catholic Church, but added: "There are immense challenges facing those concerned in relation to celibacy and also in relation to the kind of human relationships that people need if they are to flourish as individuals."