McAleese and church stance on gays


Sir, – I applaud Mary McAleese (Front page, January 8th) in campaigning for gay rights generally and within the Catholic Church. Like her predecessor Mary Robinson, she is using her post-presidency influence for the good of humanity by trying to influence international human rights towards more evolved human ethical positions, including gay rights. She is uniquely positioned to do so, with her academic legal career preceding her presidency, and also in terms of influencing the church, her continuing attachment to the church while working for change.

The Catholic Church has a huge demographic spread, and is an influential ethical presence for members of the church in many societies that are rampantly homophobic in both policy and in practice. Therefore, the church can be, if it so chooses, an enormous power for good, in the change towards full human rights, including marriage equality and the resulting societal change for gay people around the world.

To her critics, including Breda O’Brien (Opinion, January 11th), I ask, how could this possibly be a bad thing? When government, or faith institutions, lead the way with evolved humane policies, and enforce these policies properly, then societies start to become better places for all members of society to live. Pope Francis has stunned the world with his new approach and concerns for the poor. Those of us who wish him well hope that he will also lead change in these other important areas of human growth. – Yours, etc,




Co Tipperary.

Sir, – Both Thomas Finegan (January 10th) and Breda O’Brien (Opinion, January 11th) have brought clarity to the issues arising from Mary McAleese’s remarks in Edinburgh, about homosexuality and church teaching.

The church unequivocally proclaims the message of the Gospel to every human being who, though wounded by and infected with sin, is infinitely loved by God. The primary call of the Gospel is to repent, to turn away from the disorder of sin: “for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

We must, therefore, reorder our lives, with the help of Divine Grace, towards the true origin and end of our existence – God our Creator, Who loves and saves us.

The church does not and never will follow the world in defining people as “gay” or “straight”: “Do not copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Human beings, all of us, have an inclination towards selfishness (the essence of sin) and all without exception have the obligation, helped by God, to overcome this disordered inclination and so be brought to Eternal Salvation. When we fail, as everyone does, there is the medicine of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where God’s patience and compassion is inexhaustible.

Mary McAleese, for whom I have the greatest admiration, is very unjust to our Holy Father Emeritus, Pope Benedict XVI. She should know better than to take such cheap shots at him.

Furthermore, the scandal given by Cardinal Keith O’Brien was not on account of his perceived sexuality but sexual misconduct, ie abuse of power and position, on his part, with junior clergy including a seminarian (seminarians being young adults, non-ordained, vulnerable in the ecclesiastical system as it was and, hopefully, is no longer). Cardinal O’Brien has admitted that his behaviour “fell far short’ of what is expected of him and subsequently resigned. – Yours, etc,



Chaplaincy Team, Ulster


Glen Road, ]