Former Irish president condemns Catholic Church as 'empire of misogyny'

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Former Irish president Mary McAleese has denounced the Vatican's "misogyny" ahead of an International Women's Day event on the role of women in the Catholic Church.

In previous years this Catholic women's movement has celebrated International Women's Day by meeting inside the Vatican, but this year their list of 2018 speakers did not meet with official approval.

Judging from the attitudes of leaders at a conference on women in the Church taking place in Rome this week - though, pointedly, not on the 108-acre grounds of the Vatican itself, as it has for the past four years - when that statement comes, it may need to concentrate less on what the Church says "no" to, and more on that to which it's prepared to say "yes".

The Church teaches that women can not be ordained priests because Jesus chose only men as his apostles.

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The conference was due to be held at the Vatican but was switched to a location outside the Vatican at the Jesuit headquarters after McAleese was barred from attending the original event.

"Today, the Catholic Church lags noticeably behind the world's advanced nations in the elimination of discrimination against women, a disgrace to an organization that claims to be created by God for love in the universe", she said.

Pope Francis repeatedly has affirmed that verdict, insisting that John Paul II closed the door on the question of women priests and it's not going to be reopened.

Many in the audience were nuns who cheered speakers demanding a greater role for women in the church.

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She argued: "The Catholic Church is one of the last great bastions of misogyny".

"I've read everything written on the subject, all the stuff that was recommended to me by Cardinal Desmond Connell when I wrote and said to him "tell me all the arguments in favour of excluding women" and when I read them they were so stupid I realised very quickly that it was codology dressed up as theology". "Get it going. Put the fuel in the engine!"

"We don't want to be what the Pope describes as 'the strawberry on the cake, '" McAleese said, according to BBC.

McAleese suggested that moving past the priesthood debate is largely a matter of strategy, not substance.

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There are only a few women in senior positions in the Vatican - mostly those in departments that look after religious issues.

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