Former President Mary McAleese has described a new “momentum growing” in favour of full equality of LGBTI people and women in the Catholic Church – a momentum which is essential to the Catholic Church’s survival
In a podcast interview with presenter Mary Kennedy released on the Senior Times Podcast Series former President McAleese castigated the church’s previous treatment of both women and gay people.
However, coming just days after Pope Francis became the first pontiff to endorse same-sex civil unions, McAleese added: “I think that there is a momentum growing now. I feel the wheels of a momentum
growing. I’m not saying that it is in first gear or anywhere near first gear. But certainly there is a building up of momentum. The church of the future, the Catholic Church of the future, if it fails to address these issues, if they fail to honour the full equality and equal dignity of women, if they fail to honour the full equality and equal dignity of LGBTI people, it’s going to be lost, it will be lost probably in the next generation.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Mary Kennedy, McAleese described her upbringing in Belfast, the achievements of her two-term presidency, including the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland, and her current work as a canon lawyer to secure reforms of the Catholic Church. She also described her joy at her son Justin’s same-sex marriage.
The interview ended on a significant note of caution, however, regarding the twin threats to peace in Northern Ireland posed by Brexit and by future referenda on reunification.
“The Good Friday Agreement never foresaw Brexit and did not have built into it a mechanism for dealing with such a phenomenon,” said McAleese.
“So it hasn’t been road-tested against Brexit. Nor has it been road-tested against a referendum on partition.
The vast majority of people signed up to the idea of that referendum but there are people who didn’t, there are small constituencies which didn’t, and would still have a grá for the old violence possibly. We have to ensure that we work to create a stable sense of good neighbourliness that will allow us to approach both Brexit and its consequences, and the possibility of a referendum and its consequences, without destabilization and without the pull of old sectarian pathways.”
The interview is the third of eight to be released by Senior Times featuring Mary Kennedy interviewing Ireland’s leading women writers. Mary McAleese has written several books including a recent memoir, Here’s the Story.
This series will run from Tuesday, 13th October, until Tuesday, 1st December, with a new podcast released each week.
“These are strong, often brilliant women whose company it was a pleasure to share,” said Mary Kennedy.
“They represent a changed and changing Ireland and one which I find fascinating to present to a wider audience in these podcasts with Senior Times.” Listen to the Podcast below