Mary McAleese calls on Pope to remove ‘awful material’ from Vatican website

Former president Mary McAleese has written a letter to Pope Francis calling for the removal of a text she calls "the worst-ever offensive sexist material".

Mary McAleese has called on the Pope to remove an offensive document from a Vatican website. The image is a head shot of Dr McAleese. She is wearing a white blouse with a royal blue jacket.
Image: Via Facebook - The Late Late Show

Mary McAleese has submitted a letter to Pope Francis calling on him to remove what she deems to be “offensive sexist material” from a Vatican website.

The former president referred specifically to a document which appears on the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life’s website, a department established by Pope Francis in 2016 with the remit of promoting lay faithful, the pastoral care of the family and ‘the protection and support of human life’.

The document titled On the apparel of the women was written in 230AD by Tertullian a prolific Christian writer and early father of Catholicism. In it, he blames women for all the wrongs of humanity including the death of Jesus Christ. 

In the text, he refers to women as “the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that [forbidden] tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert – that is, death – even the Son of God had to die.”

According to a report in the Irish Times, Dr McAleese submitted the letter on September 6 seeking “urgent clarification of offensive sexist material published by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life”.

Noting that  Pope Francis is “at the start of the implementation of [his] great curial reform” she goes on to say “it absolutely beggars belief that the worst-ever offensive sexist material is published with unambiguous approval by the Dicastery for the Laity‚ Family and Life” – a dicastery she points out, the Pope himself “charged with responsibility for women.”

Warning of the impact of such a text on the influence of the church on people of faith she says, “The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life is manifestly driven by an ignorant backward agenda which will drive the church into further scandal and crisis unless radically reformed. 

“The church would be better off if it was closed down and all matters within its competence remitted to national competence.” 

Dr McAleese goes on to advise, “At a minimum, this awful material must be removed from the magisterium’s official website. It offends all women and the creator who made them.”

She concludes by saying she hopes Pope Francis would “be able to restore reassurance to the many women who still stay faithful to the church in spite of such gratuitous assaults on their God-given dignity and equality” signing off as Dr Mary McAleese, President of Ireland 1997-2011.

This is not the first time Dr McAleese has called on the church to implement reform. In 2021 she accused the church of causing “heartache and hurt” to the LGBTQ+ community while in 2020 she called on religious leaders to end conversion therapy.

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