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Mary McAleese to become patron of women's theology institute
12 March 2014 15:15 by Liz Dodd

Former Irish president Mary McAleese has become a patron of the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology.

The institute, which is based in Cambridge, prepares women for lay ministry.

Ms McAleese, a canon lawyer who served as President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011, has called for a de-centralisation of the power of the Magisterium.

In an article published in The Tablet analysing the first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate she wrote that the Holy See’s “tight-grip approach” had “very damaging consequences for the Church in the modern world.”

She praised Pope Francis’ recent questionnaire on the family, in advance of the upcoming Synod, as a “first for the Church”.

“[It] could be a template for the kind of noisy, messy, argumentative Church the [Second] Vatican Council envisaged and that Francis seems comfortable with … unafraid of bad news, unafraid of healthy debate,” she said.