Tag Archives: Mary McAleese

Martin and Mary McAleese

This morning.

Patsy McGarry, in The Irish Times, reports that former President of Ireland Mary McAleese has threatened to leave the Catholic Church.

It follows an inquiry concluding that the founder of  L’Arche Community Jean Vanier, who died aged 90 in Paris last May, sexually abused at least six women between 1970 and 2005.

Mr McGarry reports that Ms McAleese is threatening to leave if it transpires that the Vatican failed to act to protect members of the L’Arche Community, which assists people with disabilities.

He reports:

She said people should have been alerted to “the known predatory activities” of the community’s founder Jean Vanier and his mentor, Dominican priest Fr Thomas Philippe.

“I have to say that this will be my final line of least resistance. I could not in conscience continue to support an institution capable of such gross negligence,” Mrs McAleese said in the letter.

…She asked “what steps if any did the Holy See take to interrupt the growth of the powerful cult of Vanier by warning the many good men and women who trusted him in good faith that he had an alarming past?”

“I am one of those who regarded Vanier as inspirational for decades,” she said. “Hearing last week the awful story of his sexually and spiritually abusive conduct was devastating. Even worse was learning that the Holy See had been aware since the 1950s of his malevolent proclivities and those of his colleague Pere Thomas Phillippe.”


McAleese threatens to leave Catholic Church if Vanier story not explained (Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times)

Previously: The Magdalene Report: A Conclusion


Martin and Mary McAleese

Gavan Reilly tweetz:

Former president Mary McAleese is to become the Chancellor of the University of Dublin.

Her husband Martin is the chancellor of Dublin City University – there can’t be many examples, anywhere in the world, of a married couple both being chancellors of separate universities.

Previously: The Magdalene Report: A Conclusion


Letter in Belfast Telegraph threes week ago

This morning.

Following an interview on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke…

The Irish News reports:

Mary McAleese says her youngest brother was “seriously, physically, sadistically abused by Malachy Finegan” at St Colman’s College in Newry.

The paedophile cleric has been accused of a catalogue of sexual and physical abuse against boys on church premises and at the school. He was never questioned by police or prosecuted and he died in 2002.

Fr Finegan worked in St Colman’s from 1967 and was president of the college from 1976 to 1987.

Speaking on RTÉ radio Mrs McAleese said her “baby brother”, who will celebrate his 50th birthday next year, had been abused by the priest for the entire time he attended the school.

“My baby brother, the youngest of nine children, was seriously, physically, sadistically abused by Malachy Finegan.

The former president said four of her five brothers went to the school “and my wonderful, beautiful, and as you can image the youngest of a family, so incredibly loved by all of us, to think that he suffered and never felt that he could tell anyone”.

My mother, almost 90 years of age, had to discover that from the Belfast Telegraph three weeks ago.”

In the clip above, Mrs McAleese told RTE:

“The very first complaints about Malachy Finnegan go back to the 1970s, not the 1990s at all, but go back to the 1970s which means there was a body of information that was well known to people who were in a position to do something about it but didn’t.”

Mary McAleese says youngest brother was abused by Fr Malachy Finegan (The Irish News)

McAleese calls for independent inquiry into handling of Finnegan abuse (RTE)

Pic: RTE and Brendan Hughes


Journalist Bruce Arnold

Sorcha Pollak in the Irish Times writes:

“Former president Mary McAleese was wrong to call for families across Ireland to vote Yes in the same-sex marriage referendum, according to journalist Bruce Arnold. Speaking on RTÉ radio [Morning Ireland], Mr Arnold said as an “officer of the State” the former president had broken convention by taking part in the same-sex marriage debate and had abandoned her duties.”

“According to Mr Arnold, when he moved to Ireland [sixty years ago] homosexuality was not penalised or illegal and “homosexuals lived a reasonably open and happy life”.

“’Homosexuality was never a crime in Ireland. Homosexual acts were and through David Norris’ work with Mary Robinson in Europe the edict was created that made the government here reluctantly, and with disagreement, decriminalise homosexual acts.’”

Listen to radio interview here

McAleese wrong to call for Yes vote in referendum, says journalist (Irish Times)

Previously: ‘Remembering Your Father And What He Stood For, I Need Answers’

A Canon Lawyer Speaks


Former President Mary McAleese in Wood Quay, Dublin this morning

“My husband and I have been happily married for almost forty years. We are Catholics and have campaigned for marriage equality for gay citizens, as a family, since long before we had children.

We believe happy marriages are good for individuals and for society. We believe happy gay marriages will be good for individuals and for society too. Will a yes vote affect my heterosexual marriage or any heterosexual marriage?

Not in the least. But it will greatly affect my life and the lives of all parents of gay children. It will give us peace of mind about our children’s future and pride in our country’s commitment to true equality. It will right a glaring wrong.”

We have all ignored a very important reality that on both sides of the referendum argument there is considerable agreement about the need to regulate surrogacy, a need that will exist whether the referendum is passed or defeated.

No-one in Ireland, whether heterosexual or homosexual, has a legal or constitutional right to procreation using surrogacy. This referendum if passed will certainly not create any such right. It is a nonsense to think it could.”

Some Churches take a very different view of definitions of both marriage and the family as is their right. They are perfectly entitled to hold to their own definitions and have them respected by our laws of religious freedom but they are not entitled to insist that their religious definitions should prevail in our secular civil law which makes non-religious provision for all citizens.

This referendum is about extending to gay citizens the secular, non-religious right to marry in a registry office, a right that heterosexual citizens already enjoy under our Constitutional law.”

Mary McAleese this morning speaking at an event hosted by BeLonG To, Ireland’s national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender young people.

Pic: Tiernan Brady

(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)


90367178 90367179

This afternoon.

Former Presidents Mary Robinson (top and above) and Mary McAleese (above) joined current President Michael D Higgins  at the Funeral of Dr Maeve Hillery, widow of former President Patrick Hillery at  St. Fintan’s Church, Sutton, Co Dublin this afternoon.



Michael Martin and Brian Cowen at St Fintan’s Church this afternoon.

(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)

maryWe may never know.

President Mary McAleese’s remarks that the Catholic Church is in denial about homosexuality, because many of its priests are gay, were analysed with exquisite detail by Patsy McGarry, of the Irish Times – and author of McAleese biography First Citizen – and a bewildered Seán O’Rourke on his Today show on RTÉ R1 this morning.

Bless the innocence.

Sean O’Rourke:“She’s also telling the paper, or did tell them that a very large number of Catholic priests are gay.”

Patsy McGarry: “Well, this is not new. I mean, in 1997, in March of 1997 she wrote an article for The Tablet, which is the Catholic monthly published in the UK, in which she made the very same point. This was before it was even mooted that she might be a candidate for the Presidency at all, all that happened later on that year…She was talking really about Ireland but, also generally speaking, about the phenomenon, as she knows, that then, of the very high proportion of priests who are gay.”

O’Rourke: “How does she know?”

McGarry: “Well, I mean she’s an acute observer of people, I expect. I never asked her actually why, how she knew..”

O’Rourke: “But I’m just wondering is this based on empirical evidence or her own observations. I mean when she says ‘it isn’t so much an elephant in the room but a herd of elephants’.”

McGarry: “Well there are books, and have been books in the United States, particularly one in 2000 which estimates that half the priests in that country were gay, produced by a former priest himself Daniel [unintelligible]. There have been other such books as well. I mean it’s an understood phenomenon where the church is concerned. One book estimated that a third of bishops in the world, Catholic bishops are gay.”

O’Rourke: “And of course there was that controversy of course last year and there was a report presented to the former pope about allegations of a gay lobby within the Vatican itself.”

McGarry: “That’s true and…in fact there’s a story in the paper today about a Swiss guard who talks about his experiences in the Vatican when he was a Swiss guard there, about being approached by various people, up to and including, a cardinal, for sexual purposes.”

O’Rourke: “So it’s not the only issue, that Mary McAleese has been outspoken and going contrary to the church’s teaching. I mean, I think it’s a long time ago, even before she became president that she tangled with them on the whole question of women priests.”

McGarry: “Yes, it’s true but to go back to the original theme, Sean, she has a strong record when it comes to gay people. I mean when she was in Trinity College, as a professor of law, back in the mid-1970s, she and David Norris set up the campaign for homosexual law reform. And when I wrote her biography in 2008, I talked to her about how she became interested in this issue. And she said when she was a young student in the Seventies, she met a young man in California, when she was on a student job, who was a gay man who was not on the gay scene, didn’t want to be on the gay scene but he lived a very, very lonely life and she was very moved by his experience and it excited her interest in the situation of gay people. And, as president, she also addressed this issue in the context of youth suicide, particularly where young men were concerned.”

Listen here

Earlier: You Could Always Leave?

Pic: Passionists.org

90278424[Mary McAleese at the launch of Quo Vadis,  in 2012]

“I don’t like my Church’s attitude to gay people. I don’t like ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’. If you are the so-called sinner, who likes to be called that? We also know that within the priesthood a very large number of priests are gay.”

[ Speaking during a lecture at the Royal Society of Edinburgh] Mrs McAleese said she studied suicide among young Irish males, many of them gay Catholics who grew up being told their sexuality was “intrinsically disordered” and “evil”.

When she took this research to the new papal nuncio in Dublin she was surprised by his response.

She said she was asked: “What do you want me to do? Do you want us to turn our back on tradition?” Her answer was: “Yes, if it’s wrong.”

“Things written by [former Pope] Benedict, for example, were completely contradictory to modern science and to modern understanding, and to the understanding of most Catholics nowadays in relation to homosexuality.”

“Nowadays, it is not something that is perceived as something that is intrinsically disordered. Homosexual conduct is not seen as evil.”

Mrs McAleese drew a ­comparison with the Church’s attitude to Jews. It took almost two millennia formally to revise the “Christ-killer” slander which had been repeated down the decades.


Shamed Cardinal urged to tell life story by former Irish leader (Glasgow Herald)

Former president Mary McAleese criticises church’s stance on gays (Mark Hennessy and Patsy McGarry Irish Times)

(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)