World

Catholic women urge pope to tear down Church's 'walls of misogyny'

Catholic women urge pope to tear down Church's 'walls of misogyny'

"The Catholic Church is one of the last great bastions of misogyny", McAleese said.

McAleese, who led Ireland from 1997 to 2011 and is pursuing a doctorate in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, said she wanted "a strategy with targets, pathways and outcomes, regularly and independently audited".

McAleese lamented the lack of leadership roles available to women in the church, and said female Catholics do not have strong role models to look up to. "It has consigned it to recycled thinking among a hermetically sealed, cozy male clerical elite". It's an empire of misogyny.

"Today, the Catholic Church lags noticeably behind the world's advanced nations in the elimination of discrimination against women, a disgrace to an organization that claims to be created by God for love in the universe", she said.

McAleese, who has a gay son and has been a campaigner for same-sex rights for 40 years, said a Church hierarchy that is "homophobic and anti-abortion is not the Church of the future". "We watch the exodus of talented, educated young women", she said. Catholic leadership also objected to the inclusion of English Catholic theology professor Tina Beattie.

She wrote to Pope Francis last month after the Vatican declined to approve her and the two other speakers to take part in the conference.

Ms McAleese was speaking ahead of a conference to mark International Women's Day yesterday.




"Our voices stir the winds of change, so we must speak out", she added.

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.

According to the BBC, this year's meeting is instead taking place today in the headquarters of the Jesuit religious order, across the road from Vatican City.

In effect, McAleese said, a strategic choice has been made to call the system's bluff, given that women priests are off the table.

"Yes in Africa, yes in the poor developing countries and the hierarchical church beats its breast and tells us how wonderful it is, they've all these wonderful vocations right around the developing world". The Catholic Church is one of them.

"I think over time, the arguments that are based on a so-called theology will just fall away as so many (have)".


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