Mary McAleese condemns Pope Francis and Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality as "evil"
"Homophobia is evil. It ruins people's lives."
Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese has described the Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality as "evil."
McAleese, who will participate in this weekend's Dublin Pride celebrations alongside her son Justin and his husband, was speaking in Navan, County Meath on Friday as part of the Missionary Society of St Columban's centenary.
During a public interview, McAleese contended that "My church's teaching on homosexuality is, in my view, evil."
"It educes to homophobia," she continued. "Homophobia is evil. It ruins people's lives. It has ruined families' lives. It has caused people to commit suicide. It has caused people to live in dark shadows."
She spoke fondly of her son's experience as an altar boy, how he loved the "magic and mystique" of the church, but contrasted that with his teenage years when he came to feel that the same institution rejected him as a person.
McAleese said that this led him “to retreat into the shadows of self-doubt, of misery, of being really frightened."
“That is un-Christian," she argued, adding that such an attitude and belief system "is worse than un-charitable."
“The only person who can actually stop that, strangely enough, is the Pope," she noted.
McAleese, who remains a practicing Catholic, would further criticise Pope Francis, labelling him a "disappointment" where women's rights are concerned.
She described the Church's treatment of women and LGBTI people as "another dark chapter" in its history.
On the subject of the lack of women in the priesthood, McAleese said that the Catholic Church is "so far behind the curve that it is embarrassing."
The Dublin Pride parade is set to take place in the city centre on Saturday afternoon. Over 30,000 people took part in last year's event.
The route will follow the 2017 parade route and start in Stephen's Green South heading towards Kevin Street. It will head south towards the river, crossing Fr. Matthew Bridge and going up Church Street before turning into Smithfield.