McAleese in support of same-sex marriage


FORMER PRESIDENT of Ireland Mary McAleese has said she supports gay marriage. “I have no problem with it at all,” she said.

She held “a very strong view that for centuries now gay people have lived in a dark secretive world of indeterminate loneliness, dreadful complexity . . .” Gay people were “as entitled to live their lives on their own terms, as I do as a heterosexual”, she said. “I’m just thrilled anyone wants to get married”, which was “a great grace”.

Mrs McAleese was speaking in an interview recently recorded with Gay Byrne for his Meaning of Life series. It will be broadcast on RTÉ One television tonight at 10.15pm. She said she had been in Rome since “almost immediately” after she left Áras an Uachtaráin last November. She was studying canon law and said “I see my life writing in that field.”

Asked about her book Quo Vadis?, to be published on October 20th, she said it dealt with collegiality in the church, as agreed at Vatican II, whereby the College of Bishops was to co-govern the church with the pope. “It did not happen,” she said. The College of Bishops had not met since Vatican II, which concluded in 1965.

Her book directly asked the pope where were the structures that allowed for legitimate debate and discussion. “I’m not clear anymore where the boundaries are,” she said. To express dissenting opinion was to be disobedient.

Church leadership lacked “a fair degree of credibility now” as a result of the child abuse issue, she said. “If they could be so dreadfully wrong and take so long about accepting how wrong they were . . . ” and yet “we seem to have arrived at a situation of creeping infallibility about everything”, she said.

Where the ban on women priests was concerned, she felt the church had come “perilously close to infallibility”. She wrote to Pope John Paul wondering, with her views, whether she was really a member of the church anymore.

She got “a lovely letter back on his behalf” assuring her she was but asking her to try her best to accept what was church teaching. She wrote to then archbishop of Dublin Desmond Connell seeking literature on the issue. She found it “wickedly poor scholarship”.

She recalled a “most dreadful encounter” with the former archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law.

He resigned the post in 2002 over his mishandling of the child sex abuse issue there. In front of an audience of government ministers, officials and ambassadors “he said I was a very poor Catholic president”, she recalled. She replied: “I am not a Catholic president, I’m president of Ireland” where “there were all sorts of people. I’m their president. I happen to be Catholic.”

The cardinal’s view “seemed to be that we in Ireland were completely overwhelmed by a secular media”. She pointed out that people in Ireland were better educated now and that the church frequently lost the argument.