The Catholic church needs to open itself up to the possibility of having gay priests, according to the leader of the Seanad, Senator Jerry Buttimer.
Mr Buttimer trained for five years in the Maynooth seminary before deciding against the clerical life.
He was also the first openly gay Fine Gael TD and campaigned for the passing of the marriage referendum last year.
He said the recent controversy surrounding gay seminarians at Maynooth brought to the fore the need for the Irish church hierarchy to embrace LGBT people of faith and make them part of the church.
Mr Buttimer said it was “hardly a surprise” that there were gay men studying for the priesthood.
“As a person of faith, I pray and yearn that my church and its leaders would move to be more progressive, open and transparent around the teaching on sexuality.”
Mr Buttimer said he cherished his time in Maynooth and that it had left “a lasting impression” on his life.
“The deans and professors I studied under were very genuine men. I still believe today that they were in the main interested in developing and educating young men to be good priests.
“The church is nothing without its people, all of its people. Many of us pray for a church that is inclusive, welcoming, accepting, open and transparent. We could do a lot better.”
He said opening the church up to the LGBT community would lead to an increase in vocations.
He also said it was time for the church not to “gloss over real issues”.
“These are issues surrounding celibacy, sexuality, formation and how the church treats LGBT people, but especially LGBT people of faith, members of its own church, who want to be ordained or play a pastoral role.”