08 January 2020, The Tablet

McAleese blames Farrell for failures in Pope Ireland visit

Mary McAleese also criticised the failure to include Northern Ireland in the papal visit.

McAleese blames Farrell for failures in Pope Ireland visit

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese.
Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

The former president of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese, has criticised the Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life over the “poorly constructed visit” of Pope Francis to Ireland in August 2018.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Professor McAleese also spoke about Dublin-born Cardinal Kevin Farrell’s attempts to ban her and two other speakers from taking part in the Voices of Faith conference on women in the Vatican in March 2018.

“The decision was taken by the man Cardinal [Kevin] Farrell. If I was to put two and two together and look at the other people who were also ‘barred’ if you like, we were all people who’d been associated with campaigning for gay rights. That seems to have been the trigger. But we don’t know,” she said.

Professor McAleese said Cardinal Farrell had acknowledged in a meeting with her that he knew very little about Ireland as he had been out of the country for 50 years, first as a member of the Legionaries of Christ and later as a member of the US hierarchy.

“That became very evident of course, when he became the mastermind of the Pope’s really not great visit to Ireland – poorly constructed visit to Ireland. I felt terribly sorry for Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the visit was thrown upon him,” said Professor McAleese.

She also criticised the failure to include Northern Ireland in the papal visit.

“The North has always been kind of hanging there, waiting for a Pope to come. Francis comes in peace, and we have the Good Friday Agreement. Every single leader of a Protestant church invited him, what a wonderful thing, and he didn’t go. This was the advice he got from Cardinal Farrell. Cardinal Farrell is one of his closest friends.”

Separately, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who was President of WMF2018 has acknowledged that some people “have asked was the whole thing a disaster?” Speaking to The Tablet, Archbishop Martin said: “I don’t think so. What happened over those three days … bishops from around the world said they had never seen an event of that quality.”

However, he admitted, “There were serious problems with the event in the Phoenix Park.”





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