Mary McAleese hits out at 'right-wing' World Meeting of Families

Former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, has said Ireland is "long past the point of accepting words of simple sorrow" from the Pope about clerical sex abuse scandals in the country.

Ms McAleese has also revealed that she has made a formal canonical complaint to Pope Francis about Cardinal Farrell's banning of her speaking at the Vatican in March of this year.

She was talking to Brendan O'Connor on The Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland next weekend.

Ms McAleese told Brendan that Pope Francis puts the defence of the institution first as a result of his formation as a priest and as a Bishop.

She said: "It's not only systemic, it was directed from central command and control, which is the Vatican.

"I was astounded by what happened in Chile, because I did believe that this Pope was different, because he said that he was going to be.

"When he went to Chile in January and denounced victims, accused them of defamation, he accused them of being liars essentially and believed the briefings that he got from Bishops, when we know that he also got other briefings.

"He got briefings from Marie Collins, he got briefings from the victims...he chose to believe one side and that was the side that protected offending Bishops and priests."

Speaking of what has been going on in Pennsylvania, Ms McAleese believes that the Pope would have been very well aware of what was going on.

She said: "One has to assume that... these would have been well known certainly in the latter days when all of these cases had to be sent to Rome, that he would have been briefed on them.

"You would like to think that he would have been briefed on them, these are so significant when you are talking about 300 abusing priests in six dioceses in the United States."

The report into the clerical abuse in Pennsylvania faulted Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the former long-time bishop of Pittsburgh who now leads the Washington archdiocese, for what it said was his part in the concealment of clergy sexual abuse.

Ms McAleese said it is ironic that Cardinal Wuerl is welcome at the World Meeting of Families.

The former President of Ireland told Brendan that she had hoped that next weekend's meeting in Ireland would be different from previous other meetings.

She said that her banning from speaking at the Vatican in March was very much in keeping with the ethos of the World Meeting of Families to deny the voice of someone like her who has been very vocal in support of same-sex marriage and gay rights.

She said: "It's always been essentially a right-wing rally... and it was designed for that purpose, to rally people to get them motivated to fight against the tide of same-sex marriage, rights for gays, abortion rights, contraceptive rights."

She told how she had been devastated when she realised that the images for LGBT families had been removed from World Meeting of Families material.

However, she spoke of the insult being personal to her, but didn't think it was a personal agenda that Cardinal Farrell had against her saying, "I don't think how there could be anything personal".

For three months, Ms McAleese did not know that it was Cardinal Farrell who had banned her from speaking.

She tried to resolve the issue diplomatically "with the help of the Archbishop of Dublin and we could not get it resolved".

She told Brendan that she made a formal complaint to the Pope about Cardinal Farrell's actions.

To date, she has received neither a reply nor an acknowledgement.

Ms McAleese said: "I made a formal complaint against Cardinal Farrell, to the Pope, the Pope is the only person as his superior who could rectify and deal with and judge that complaint, so I made a formal canonical complaint to the Pope about Cardinal Farrell's actions.

Having received neither an acknowledgement or a reply to date, I can only presume that since the Pope is his immediate superior that this was done with his approval.

"They claim there is a process for dealing with such complaints, I'm six months down the road of that complaint and I haven't had the letter back that says we've received your complaint."

- Digital Desk

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