Speak out to help gays, McAleese urges ex-cardinal O’Brien

Former Cardinal Kieth O'Brien
Former Cardinal Kieth O'Brien

A call has been made for a man who rose to be one of the UK’s top Catholic clerics to tell his life story in full, in order to help homosexuals.

Mary McAleese, former president of Ireland, told Scotland’s The Herald newspaper that Cardinal Keith O’Brien should speak out publicly after he left his post following allegations of inappropriate conduct with a string of priests.

Ms McAleese, who grew up in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, said: “I would have thought Cardinal Keith O’Brien, in telling the story of his life – if he was willing to do that – could have been of great assistance to gay people, not just in the Church but elsewhere, who felt over many, many years constrained to pretend to be heterosexual while at the same time acting a different life.”

Ballycastle-born Keith O’Brien was the most senior Catholic in the UK.

The Pope decided his resignation from the post of Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh would take effect from February 25, shortly after the allegations emerged.

Soon afterwards, Cardinal O’Brien issued an apology, saying his “sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me”.

Ms McAleese, who is currently studying canon law at Gregorian University in Rome, has been outspoken on the subject of the Catholic Church’s attitude to homosexuality.

The interview with the paper continued to quote Ms McAleese as saying that Keith O’Brien had talked “in the most homophobic way”, in a bid to divert attention from himself.

Cardinal O’Brien was on record as being favourable towards the idea of letting priests marry – but was also a strong opponent of gay marriage.

Ms McAleese said: “Nowadays, it is not something that is perceived as something that is intrinsically disordered. Homosexual conduct is not seen as evil.” She added: “We also know that within the priesthood a very large number of priests are gay.”

She spoke to The Herald just ahead of a talk she was giving at the Royal Society of Edinburgh last month.