Mary McAleese reiterated her support for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and women’s rights within the Catholic Church.
If the Catholic Church fails to honour the “full equality and equal dignity” of women and LGBTQ+ people, it will “be lost” in the next generation, according to former President Mary McAleese.
Citing a “building up of momentum” to change within the church, McAleese’s comments come days after Pope Francis endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples, in a historic moment for the Catholic Church.
Speaking with Mary Kennedy on Tuesday’s episode of Senior Times podcast, Former President McAleese spoke about the growing change and attitude towards acceptance and equality within the church.
“I think that there is a momentum growing now. I feel the wheels of momentum growing. I’m not saying that it is now in first gear or anywhere near first gear, but certainly, there is a building up of momentum,” she said.
It’s not just the rights and equality of LGBTQ+ people within the community of the church, but also the same liberties for women.
“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.”
McAleese said that even though it’s “very disappointing” when the Church falls short of the mark, she has stayed a member because she wants to encourage change, and make a difference: “I just want to be able to do what I can while I can and have breath to be able to nudge it towards a difference.
“What holds me in the Church is a determination that a church that is so influential in the world, which it is, in so far as their teaching, contradicts the idea of a loving God, excludes women, excludes LGBTI, and in particular, forces young LGBTI people into the most awful tragic personal circumstances of feeling lost and alone and oppressed in this church,” she explained.
Mary McAleese also described the happiness that her son Justin, who is gay, grew up in a household that was free of homophobic comments and surrounded by support and campaigns for marriage equality.
“Thank God Justin grew up in a house where he never heard so many young people do homophobic comments, no matter how throwaway, no matter how deliberate. He always was in a house where there were gay people in and out, we were always licking envelopes for the next campaign,” she recalled.
The support of the LGBTQ+ community and their rights in Mary McAleese’s family spans generations as the former President remembers a touching moment during last year’s Pride parade, when she watched her young grandson march through-out Dublin, sporting his rainbow gear.
“To see my little three year-old grandson with his rainbow sunglasses and his rainbow t-shirt and his rainbow flag at the head of that march at Croke Park, I was so proud.”
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