FORMER PRESIDENT OF IRELAND Mary McAleese has said she believes the Catholic priesthood is based around "a fundamental lie".
Speaking at a conference in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) on Saturday, where she now works as Chancellor, McAleese suggested that those attracted to priesthood within the Church have "deeply problematic" sexualities because those who aren't heterosexual are told and expected to pretend to be.
She referenced the time she spent in Rome, studying for a doctorate in canon law, where she witnessed many dysfunctional young seminarians and priests, according to the Irish Independent.
"I became very much aware of the dysfunction at the heart of seminary life and the dysfunction at the heart of much of the priesthood," said McAleese.
"The number of fake-hetero misogynistic homophobic gays I met frightened me. The homophobia of people who are gay is a lie - it is a vicious lie. But they live it and in living it, apart from making themselves miserable, they also make a lot of other people miserable."
She added that as pastors, "their capacity for dispersing misery is really immense. That worries me greatly."
McAleese also said that the practice of excluding women from priesthood was a harmful "invention" of the Church and would soon be eradicated, much like the construct the church invented for using castrati up to 1917, in order to prevent women singing in church choirs.
The conference, called 'Women the Vatican Couldn’t Silence', saw a number of theologians and religious figures attend, including Sr Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun and American theologian.
Sr Chittister, who was threatened with excommunication in 2001 over her attendance in Ireland of the first conference of Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) said women’s role in the church today is "invisible" and that the catholic church "is a wholly owned subsidiarity of pious males".