Priests' association: Church teaching on homosexuality needs to change

Mary McAleese - made comments at Scottish lecture

A representative of the Association of Catholic Priests has welcomed comments from the former President Mary McAleese in relation to homosexuality within the Catholic Church.

Mrs McAleese said she does not like the attitude of the Church towards homosexuality, and that it was been in in denial over the issue for decades.

The comments were made at a lecture in Scotland in December during which she also called on the Scottish Cardinal, Keith O'Brien, who was forced to stand down last year to admit publicly that he is gay.

Speaking during a lecture at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Mrs McAleese said: "I would have thought Cardinal Keith O'Brien, in telling the story of his life - if he was willing to do that - could have been of great assistance to gay people, not just in the Church but elsewhere, who felt over many, many years constrained to pretend to be heterosexual while at the same time acting a different life."

Fr. Tony Flannery of the ACP says the church needs to change its tune on the issue.

"I think the Church teaching on homosexuality and indeed on a number of areas to do with human sexuality is in serious need of change and reform," he said.

"That's part of the problem within the Church; we haven't been able to speak openly about things.

"The way Mary (McAleese) said it it isn't so much the elephant in the room, it's the herd of elephants in the room" he added.

Mrs McAleese's comments were made at a lecture in Scotland last month.

She explained why she decided to explore the Catholic Church and its teaching today.

"My 31-year-old daughter said to me 'since we were young teenagers, the Church has been subject to criminal and civil investigations, just like the Mafia' - and that stopped me in my tracks," she said.

"I said that's a very different perspective; my children are growing up with a very, very different take on Church from - if you like - (the) deferential respect and the emphasis on obedience that I grew up with," she added.

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