Mary McAleese dismisses Archbishop’s view on homosexuality

08 October 2015 11:31 by Sean Smith, Sarah Mac Donald – ‘THE TABLET’

The former president of Ireland Mary McAleese has refuted claims by the Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput that the Catholic Church never said homosexuals were disordered.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Archbishop Chaput claimed that he had “read the documents and the Church has never said that homosexual persons are disordered”.

He also accused Mrs McAleese, who has a doctorate in canon law, that she had “a very narrow point of view that’s trying to control something she shouldn’t try to control, that is the faith of the Catholic Church,” he said.

“They say that the tendency to same sex attraction is a disorder of our sexual appetite,” Archbishop Chaput continued. “It’s not the same thing to say that a part of us is disordered. It’s not the same thing as saying the person is disordered.

“I think it is clear when they’re saying in the church is that being attracted to a person of the same gender sexually is a disorder of our sexual nature.

“A lot of people have disorders. In fact we all do. Some of it would be less serious than sexual, like me and glasses or not being able to hear well, or having a tendency to overeat, those are all disorders that a person may have but it doesn’t destroy their dignity. It just means they have an issue to deal with.

“So I think that language is being used politically. It’s being used by politicians in order to stir up one side against the other and that’s inappropriate for politicians to do.”

Mrs McAleese, who is currently Distinguished Professor in Irish Studies at the Catholic St Mary’s University, in Twickenham, challenged the archbishop’s theological research.

Archbishop Charles Chaput (left) is embraced by Pope Francis during Mass in Philadelphia last month (PA)


“I do not know what Catholic Church documents Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia has read on the subject of homosexuality,” Mrs McAleese told The Tablet. “Here are some of the most recent authentic Church teachings I have read:

“On 29 December 1975 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the declaration Persona Humana, stated the following:

‘According to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God.’

“This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.

“On 31 October 1986 the then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote on behalf of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

‘Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.’

“On 31 August 2005 Pope Benedict formally approved the following statement from the Congregation for Catholic Education:

‘The Catechism distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies. Regarding acts, it teaches that Sacred Scripture presents them as grave sins. The Tradition has constantly considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstance can they be approved. Deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also objectively disordered.’

“Now if, as Archbishop Chaput says, the Church teaches that homosexuality is no more “disordered” than myopia or being hard of hearing then I would be happy to be directed to those Church documents which say so. I have not been able to find them,” she added.

On the charge of trying to control the Church’s faith, Mrs McAleese replied: “To the slightly hysterical charge … I acknowledge I like many others wish to see my Church’s teaching on this subject change before it causes any more damage.”


Canon lawyer, and ex-President of ireland, Mary McAleese, has rightly challenged the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia in the United States of fudging, when he says that his Church has never said that homosexuals are disordered. One only has to read the text of statements made  by the Congregation for Catholic Education – under the inspiration of Pope Benedict XV to see the direction in which the Catholic Church was headed when it made those definitive allegation of ‘disordered’.

In pictures released from Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States, there were those of one of the partners in a Same-Sex relationship sharing an embrace with the Holy Father – an embrace which Pope Benedict might never have felt happy with, but which Pope Francis did not flinch from. This goes to show that the official stance of the Vatican may still be that of at least mild homophobia, while that of its Chief Pastor may be more compassionate, in the manner of the Christ he represents.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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2 Responses to Mary McAleese dismisses Archbishop’s view on homosexuality

  1. The real problem with the archbishop’s distinction is that it attempts to separate the tendency from the person, as if the tendency could exist apart from the person’s who have it. This is a phony distinction, and in itself represents a fairly disordered understanding of human nature!

    • kiwianglo says:

      I quite agree, Tobias. It really is a pity that some self-acknowledged intrinsically homosexual (would probably have to be ‘celibate’) Roman Catholic bishop were brave enough to critique the Archbishop’s mis-statement. Trying to distinguish between the person and the tendency would never work for the heterosexual world. However, I guess the Roman Church is not the only institution so blind to the reality.

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