Personal Essay

'Toxic virus of misogyny' plagues Catholic Church, ex-Irish  president says

The "gravitational pull of patriarchy, empire, misogyny and homophobia" has drained respect for the Catholic Church, former Irish President Mary McAleese said at a conference in Rome.

Ciara Kenny
Ciara Kenny The Irish Times, Ireland
Source: The Irish Times
'Toxic virus of misogyny' plagues Catholic Church, ex-Irish  president says - NewsMavens
Priests. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

The former President of Ireland has re-ignited the debate about the role of women in the Catholic Church, saying the church will not survive in its current form.

“We’re now at a moment when the most educated generation in the history of Ireland is demanding that that’s the church they want" McAleese said. "And if it’s not the church that is available, well, they’ll walk away.”

Ms McAleese had been blocked, along with two other women, from speaking at the Why Women Matter conference which was due to be held in the Vatican on International Women's Day. Nevertheless, her speech to the Voices of Faith conference at another venue in Rome has brought international attention and made headlines all over the world. The call for equality for women in the Catholic Church can no longer be ignored.

religion, women's issues, gender

Details from the story:

  • Former Irish president Mary McAleese said the Catholic Church “has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny ... It has never sought a cure, though a cure is freely available. Its name is equality."
  • The "Why Women Matter" conference to mark International Women’s Day was scheduled to take place at the Vatican, as it has over the past four years.
  • The conference was moved to a space near St. Peter’s Square when Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, refused to allow Ms McAleese as a panellist.
  • The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmaid Martin, has said that the main reason for negative attitudes to the church in Ireland relates to its restrictions on women.
Only relevant news in your inbox.

Our top picks in your inbox -- the best stories from Europe's front pages, selected by top women editors.

Google DNI
Women in news
World Editors Forum
NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA
Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
Core team_
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna or Lea will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at