Former President Mary McAleese has spoken out on the recent trainee priest scandal, saying that Maynooth’s seminary should be “gay-friendly”.
Dr McAleese, speaking to the Daniel O’Connell Summer School in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, said that the church’s efforts to quash the use of gay hook-up apps such as Grindr by instituting stricter supervision of trainees, is a case of focusing on the “wrong things”.
“I am just worried that the Maynooth controversy seems to be concentrating on the wrong things. A seminary should be a place where people feel welcomed, not somewhere where they feel policed – after all, these are young people who haven’t yet taken a vow of celibacy,” she told students.
“We have the phenomenon of men in the priesthood who are both heterosexual and homosexual but the church hasn’t been able to come to terms with the fact that there are going to be homosexuals in the priesthood, homosexuals who are fine priests,” said McAleese, an outspoken supporter of last year’s marriage equality referendum.
She also criticised a 2012 visit to Maynooth by American archbishops Timothy Dolan and Edwin O’Brien to determine whether the seminary was “gay-friendly”. The visit was orchestrated by Pope Benedict and the Irish College in Rome, reports The Irish Times.
“They wanted to be reassured that neither place was, in their words, ‘gay-friendly’ . . . so they walked away happy that they were gay unfriendly, hostile to gay people – what sort of message does that send out to young men who are there who are gay, to priests who are gay?”