Former Irish President Calls Catholic Church An 'Empire Of Misogyny'

The Vatican has been urged to embrace equality on International Women´s Day

Former Irish president Mary McAleese has urged the pope to visit Newry in the wake of a sex abuse scandal, as well as attacking the Catholic church over its "codology dressed up as theology".

Delivering the opening address at a Why Women Matter conference, organised by the Voices of Faith advocacy group, Mrs McAleese said that the church "has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny".

"There are so few leadership roles now available to women", McAleese declared, due to "ludicrous" and antiquated church protocols, which render women "invisible and voiceless" while they are "expected to do all the hard work that keeps the church going".

They are celebrating International Women's Day by demanding a greater say for women in Church governance.

Last week, a Vatican magazine denounced widespread exploitation of nuns for cheap or free labor in the Roman Catholic Church, saying the male hierarchy should stop treating them like lowly servants.

"It's an empire of misogyny", the 66-year-old said in a press conference on the eve of Thursday's Voices of Faith meeting in Rome. "Women do not have strong role models in the Church that they can look up to".

Most of those speakers are on record supporting women priests, so their discretion seemed especially striking.

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"I'm not even going to be bothered arguing it".

Irish-born United States cardinal Kevin Farrell, a senior official at the Vatican, said it was "not appropriate" for the trio to take part in the conference.

Meanwhile Mrs McAleese's son said he thinks people will find it hard to stomach that she was initially "silenced and banned" from speaking at the conference, which was to be held in the Vatican City, where it has taken place in previous years, but was moved to the Aula of the Jesuit Curia in Rome after the Holy See refused to give approval to Mrs McAleese and two other speakers.

Mrs McAleese, who studied for a doctorate in Canon Law after concluding her two terms as president, questioned how the Church could include the voices of women in the formation of the Catholic faith if they are excluded from priesthood. "We watch the exodus of talented, educated young women".

The pope has promised to put more women in senior positions in the Vatican but critics say he is moving too slowly.

"Start the process", she said.

"Don't tell us what you're not going to do", she said.

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