Ex-president McAleese criticises church’s stance on gay people

Claims that the Catholic Church is in denial and ‘a very large number’ of priests are gay

Former president Mary McAleese has said “a very large number” of Catholic priests are homosexuals

Former president Mary McAleese has said “a very large number” of Catholic priests are homosexuals


Former president Mary McAleese, who has urged a Scottish cardinal forced to stand down last year to admit publicly that he is gay, has said “a very large number” of Catholic priests are homosexuals.

The Catholic Church has been in denial over homosexuality for decades, particularly since many priests are gay, she said. “It isn’t so much the elephant in the room but a herd of elephants.

“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.”

She also criticised words attributed to the previous Pope on this subject as being contradictory. “Things written by [Pope] 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.

“Nowadays, it is not something that is perceived as something that is intrinsically disordered. Homosexual conduct is not seen as evil,” said Mrs McAleese.

Her remarks were made in Edinburgh to the Glasgow-based Herald newspaper last month, but only published yesterday. She made them before she spoke last month to the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The former president, who has become increasingly outspoken about the church’s attitude to gays, compared the church’s stand to the “Christ killer” charge levelled against Jews for 2,000 years.

“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 ... acting a different life.”

The Scottish cardinal had to resign last year as an archbishop when it emerged that he had had a homosexual relationship with a young priest.Last night, the Catholic Church in Scotland said it was up to Mrs McAleese to “raise these matters”, while it is “an entirely personal matter” for Cardinal O’Brien to decide on his future actions, a spokesman told The Irish Times.

Spokesman for the church in Ireland Martin Long said: “The Catholic Communications Office does not respond to reported comments of individuals ... the Catholic Church clearly teaches that people who are homosexual must always be treated with sensitivity, compassion and respect.”

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