Mary McAleese hails Papal visit as 'right-wing rally' 2 years ago

Mary McAleese hails Papal visit as 'right-wing rally'

"[Ireland is] long past the point of accepting words of simple sorrow".

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese has hit out at the forthcoming Pope Francis visit, condemning the World Meeting of Families event as a "right-wing rally".

The 67-year-old was barred from speaking at a conference that was due to take place in the Vatican earlier this year.

Reasons for this were never publicised but it was also discovered that McAleese was one of three speakers due to attend the conference who were not granted approval by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the most senior Irish figure in the Vatican.

The former president is a strong advocate for human rights, using her time in office to address issues concerning justice, social equality, social inclusion and anti-sectarianism.

Though a practising Roman Catholic, McAleese holds liberal views on both homosexuality and women priests.

In interviews following her dismissal from the event, she described the Catholic Church as  “an empire of misogyny” and “one of the last great bastions of misogyny”.

McAleese also described a ban on women priests as “codology dressed up as theology”.

In an interview with Brendan O'Connor on the Marian Finucane show on RTÉ Radio 1, McAleese also revealed that she had made a canonical complaint to Pope Francis about Cardinal Farrell's banning of her speaking at the Vatican in March of this year.

“I made a formal complaint against Cardinal Farrell, to the Pope, the Pope is the only person as his superior who could rectify and deal with and judge that complaint, so I made a formal canonical complaint to the Pope about Cardinal Farrell’s actions,” she told O'Connor on Saturday morning.

She also revealed that the Pope has yet to respond.

"Having received neither an acknowledgement or a reply to date, I can only presume that since the Pope is his immediate superior that this was done with his approval."

On the topic of clerical abuse, the Belfast native went on to tell O'Connor that she believes Pope Francis puts the defence of the institution first as a result of his formation as a priest and as a Bishop.

"It's not only systemic, it was directed from central command and control, which is the Vatican," she said.

"It’s impossible to believe that all bishops acted equally negligently by coincidence."

Pope Francis will visit Ireland on 25 and 26 August for the World Meeting of Families set to take place in Dublin.

While here, the Pontiff will also say mass in the Phoenix Park and travel to the Knock Shrine. The full itinerary for his visit can be seen here.