Vatican bans Mary McAleese from women’s day conference

The Vatican has banned former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, from speaking at a “Voices of Faith” conference.

The conference has been held at the Vatican on International Women’s Day – celebrated on 8 March, since 2014.

The list of potential speakers at the conference required approval from a cardinal. Mrs McAleese and two other nominees (neither of whom have been named) were not granted permission to participate.

Their attendance was opposed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.

No reasons were given, according to Chantal Götz, managing director of Voices of Faith. However, she notes McAleese has been outspoken on gay rights and women’s ordination.

As a result of the Vatican decision, Götz says organisers have changed the conference venue.

It will now be held outside the Vatican, so will not require Vatican approval for choosing speakers and panel members.

The organisers have also changed the name of the conference to “Why Women Matter”, and have invited McAleese to attend as a keynote speaker.

She had previously been asked to take part in a panel discussion at the event.

McAleese, who has studied for a doctorate in canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome, has written to Pope Francis about the situation.

She says she will not make any further comment on the matter as she is waiting to see if the pope responds to her letter.

The conference brings together Catholic women from across the globe to share their experiences and create dialogue with leaders on gender equality, inclusion and leadership.

It is seeking to convince the Vatican that women “have the expertise, skills and gifts to play a full leadership role in the church”.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, says neither he nor his office were consulted by the Vatican in relation to the list of speakers for the event.


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