Hecklers tell Dr McAleese she's on 'the path to hell' for supporting LGBT+ rights during conference

Former President Dr Mary McAleese revealed that she was "profoundly hurt" when her Keynote address was blocked by the Vatican for her pro stance on LGBT+ rights.

Dr McAleese
Image: Naoise Culhane

Speaking at a conference on ‘Women and the Church: Equality of Opportunity?’ in DCU on Saturday, former Irish President Dr Mary McAleese was addressing the Vatican’s “deeply discourteous” treatment of her last year when she was heckled by audience members for her pro LGBT+ stance.

Dr McAleese said the Vatican’s attempts to block her Keynote address were “profoundly hurtful”.

“I’ve had the experience in recent times of being excluded. To be told a year ago that I was persona non grata in the Vatican, I found that so profoundly hurtful,” she said.

Dr McAleese was due to address the 2018 ‘Voices of Faith’ conference on International Women’s Day within the Vatican, where it has historically always taken place.

In an attempt to block Dr McAleese from giving a keynote address, Dublin-born cardinal Kevin Farrell forced organisers of the ‘Why Women Matter’ conference to move the event outside of the Vatican.

Through correspondence seen by the Irish Independent, it is believed that the stand-off occurred due to cardinal Farrell’s objection to three speakers, including Dr McAleese, all of whom have pro-LGBT+ rights views.

During the conference in DCU, McAleese said it was “deeply hurtful” that no explanation was given for the attempt to exclude her even though she asked for one.

“It seemed to me to be quite deliberate,” Dr McAleese said.

She added that the church’s teachings on homosexuality were “intrinsically disordered and flawed”.

The Irish Independent reports that Dr McAleese was heckled by audience members who told her she was on “the path to hell” for her “sinful disobedience”, her support for LGBT+ rights, and they told her to leave the Church if she didn’t like its teachings.

Dr McAleese has been an advocate of LGBT+ rights for over 40 years. Two days before the marriage referendum, she gave an empowered speech where she shared her reasons for voting Yes saying:

“We, the majority, have to make it happen for them and for all the unborn gay children who are relying on us to end the branding, end the isolation, end the inequality, literally once and for all.”

Dr McAleese has also previously spoken about how her gay son Justin, who is a practising catholic, was bullied because he was gay.

She said that Justin endured “torture” when he discovered the church’s teachings on homosexuality.

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