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Catholic paper in Australia refuses McAleese advert


Former President Mary McAleese. Mark Condren

Former President Mary McAleese. Mark Condren

Former President Mary McAleese. Mark Condren

The refusal of a Catholic newspaper in Australia to run an advertisement for a talk by former president Mary McAleese has been criticised as another attempt by the agents of the official church to silence those with views they do not agree with.

Censured cleric Fr Tony Flannery, who is a personal friend of the former head of state, told the Irish Independent that the refusal by the Sydney-based 'The Catholic Weekly' to publish ads to promote the event was "sad" and "ridiculous".

The editor of the newspaper, Peter Rosengren, said that the refusal to run the ad was because of Mrs McAleese's reported views on the ordination of women and homosexuality.

He said Mrs McAleese, who is completing a doctorate in canon law, had "an agenda".

Mrs McAleese is a guest of the University of New South Wales' chair of Modern Irish Studies in Sydney and the Catholic think-tank Catalyst For Renewal (CFR).

"She is reported as being in favour of ordination of women as Catholic priests and in favour of homosexuality - whatever that actually means," Peter Rosengren said.

On women's ordination, Mr Rosengren said: "The issue of the church's priesthood is one of those issues in the church that is definitively settled, like, for example, the church's belief in the divinity of Christ".

The Catholic editor said the church distinguishes between homosexuals and homosexuality, and drew a dividing line between these.

However, Mr Rosengren said he "quite admired" former President McAleese's reported views on abortion and divorce "both of which I understand she opposes".

Responding to the row, Fr Tony Flannery, said: "Anybody who thinks that the issue of the ordination of women is settled definitely for all time is living in cloud cuckooland.

"The reality is that it is being discussed widely right across the world and there is no way that the church is going to be able to stifle that discussion."

He hit out at Mr Rosengren's comparison of the teaching on women's ordination with the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus as "utterly ridiculous".

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According to the Redemptorist priest who has been threatened with excommunication by the Vatican, Mrs McAleese, who wrote the Foreword for his book, 'A Question of Conscience', is a very significant voice in church's ongoing debate.

"It is sad that the official church is not prepared to listen to her more closely rather than trying to silence her or prevent her from speaking," he said.

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