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Church needs to ditch discredited Old Testament views - McAleese

The former president told The Irish Catholic the Church was a conduit for ‘toxic’ homophobia.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

FORMER PRESIDENT MARY McAleese has said she sees the Catholic Church as a major conduit for homophobia, which she describes as a toxic form of hatred “that has nothing to do with Christ and is unchristian”.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Irish Catholic newspaper, McAleese – who campaigned for a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum – reveals she has often considered leaving the Church in favour of another denomination.

“I see myself as a member of the Church trying my best to be a member of that Church, trying to live the faith that I inherited and grew up with and have decided to remain with,” the former president said.

Her son, Justin, a Ryanair executive and coordinator of the Yes campaign in Dublin Bay South earlier this year, gave her “an even greater insight” into the prejudices confronting gay people, she said – noting that she had had numerous gay friends for a long time.

“I am ashamed, frankly, of my Church’s failure to be a champion of gay rights and of women’s rights. I am ashamed of my Church’s involvement historically in anti-Semitism,” she said.

Old Testament views

Asked what being a ‘champion’ of gay rights would look like for the Church, she said it wouldn’t necessarily mean being a champion of gay marriage.

“I’m quite happy for the Church to stay away from civil marriage and let the State provide for that – that is not the issue.”

It would mean, she said, “not adhering to views from the Old Testament about homosexuality, which have long since been discredited by medical science.”

The Church should be “actively engaged in today’s world with all the information that it has [about homosexuality]“.

Language used by the Church should also be examined to see whether it is capable of hurt “and of conducing to homophobia, which it most certainly does”.

She also expressed her hope that Pope Francis would put structures in place so that lay Catholics can make their views heard. However, she said she “accepts that legislation and governance is always going to be in the hands of the Pope and bishops”.

“I don’t agree with him on everything but I really like the man,” she said of the pontiff, praising him for welcoming debate and “allowing the Church to breathe”.

The full interview with Mary McAleese is published in the latest edition of The Irish Catholic. 

Read: Mary McAleese: ‘Pope Francis carries a residual element of misogyny’

Read: Journalist says that ‘homosexuality was never a crime in Ireland’ 

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