McAleese backs study that confronts Vatican's treatment of gay Catholics
The former President, Mary McAleese, will tomorrow endorse an international academic study challenging Catholic Church teaching that homosexuality is "intrinsically disordered", placing the issue of the Vatican's treatment of gay Catholics centre stage ahead of the Pope's visit.
Mrs McAleese will launch the new study by the independent Catholic think tank, the Wijngaards Institute, at Trinity College Dublin.
Tonight, the former President presents a documentary on RTE, in which she criticises the airbrushing of same-sex couples from promotional booklets for the World Meeting of Families. New editions without the images were printed after it was confirmed Pope Francis would attend the event in Dublin.
In the documentary, Mrs McAleese, whose son, Justin, is a gay rights campaigner, says she found it "really upsetting". "Worse than that it cements a view of the church as being unwelcoming, possibly a view of our Pope as being unwelcoming and that's not what I wanted ever to give to my children," she said.
The programme, Mary McAleese's Modern Ireland, examines how Irish families have changed since the last Papal visit in 1979. The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to natural law", and says "homosexual persons are called to chastity".
The new study plans to assess Catholic teaching on homosexuality based on scientific evidence, questioning the Vatican's condemnation of contraception, masturbation and homosexual acts on the "single tenet" that the purpose of sex is reproduction; and will also consider the Vatican's belief that homosexual orientation can be changed to heterosexual.
The research was led by Dr Luca Badini, director of research at the institute, with input from Fr Joseph O'Leary, an Irish priest and academic.
Fr O'Leary told the Sunday Independent the idea was to "open up discussion, which in turn will lead to better church teaching". He said he joined "thousands of others in calling for a development of teaching on LGBT questions, comparable to developments we've seen in the teaching" on other issues, such as slavery, religious freedom, Judaism and capital punishment.