FORMER Irish President Mary McAleese has hit out at the Catholic Church over its "evil" teaching on homosexuality.
But McAleese, 67, also said she was hopeful that Pope Francis would eventually change church attitudes towards same-sex relationships.
The Pontiff is due to visit the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin and Knock shrine in Co. Mayo later this month - the first papal trip to Ireland in almost 40 years.
Mrs McAleese, who served as President from 1997 to 2011, said she hoped the two-day visit would be free of "homophobic messages".
'Exploded that myth'
Speaking as she received the Gaze LGBT Film Festival's inaugural Vanguard Award in Dublin, Mrs McAleese added Pope Francis had "exploded that myth" that the Church cannot evolve after his recent denunciation of capital punishment.
However, she further accused the Pope of having "bad manners" and being "disrespectful" for failing to reply to a letter she recently penned him.
Mrs McAleese said she had only received "an acknowledgement of a considered reply" after an attempt to exclude her from a conference of Catholic women in Rome earlier this year.
"I had faith in this pope and it would be wrong to say anything other than I am disappointed," she said.
She added she was hopeful the CHurch's "evil" teachings on same-sex relationships would be changed in time.
Also speaking at the awards ceremony, Sarah Williams, chairperson of the board of the GAZE LGBT Film Festival, said: "Dr McAleese's unwavering support for the advancement of the LGBT+ community has been widely acknowledged and praised.
"We felt very strongly that we wanted to present her with this award this evening to mark her achievements."
Dublin filmmaker John Butler added: "It's an honour to present this award to a life-long hero of mine, what an inspiration and what a contribution to Irish life!"
'Empire of misogyny'
Back in March, McAleese described the Catholic Church as "an empire of misogyny" at a conference in Rome calling for women to be included in Vatican decision-making.
The Belfast native, who has a gay son and has campaigned for same-sex rights for some four decades, said the current Church hierarchy was “homophobic and anti-abortion [and] is not the Church of the future."
She added: "The Catholic Church is one of the last great bastions of misogyny. It's an empire of misogyny.
"There are so few leadership roles currently available to women. Women do not have strong role models in the Church that they can look up to."