Mary McAleese a voice Catholic Church ‘cannot do without’

Former president of Ireland presented with prestigious award for leading Catholics

Former president of Ireland Mary McAleese is a voice the Catholic Church "cannot do without", a ceremony presenting her with a prestigious award in Germany heard.

Ms McAleese was honoured in the University of Tübingen, Germany on Wednesday, where she was presented with the Alfons Auer Ethics Award 2019 for her 500,000-word doctoral thesis on children’s rights in Canon law completed last year.

Valued at €25,000 and first presented in 2015, the award is seen as Europe’s most prestigious prize for leading Catholics.

Dr Hille Haker, professor of theological ethics at Loyola University, Chicago gave the commending speech at the award ceremony.

Outspoken stances

Dr Haker praised Ms McAleese’s role as a voice for change within the Catholic Church, referencing her outspoken stances on issues such as same-sex marriage.

“In 2018 she was denied the right to speak at the conference organised by ‘Voices of Faith’ on the International Day of Women’s Rights,” she said.

“But Mary McAleese is nobody who is born to be silenced. Many of us, like her, cannot or do not want to run away from the church. Like her, we fight for the reform of church structures and the reform of the architecture of moral theology,” Dr Haker said.

“Mary McAleese is a role model, a comrade-in-arms, and an interlocutor whom we cannot do without – and whom we do not want to do without,” she said.

Presented every two years the award is named after the late Rev Prof Alfons Auer, formerly of the Catholic Theology Faculty at Tübingen, who died in 2005. One of the most influential liberal Catholic moral theologians following the Second Vatican Council, his contemporaries at Tubingen at one time included Pope Benedict and Prof Hans Kung.