Former Irish President Mary McAleese has warned that the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality is "evil."
Mrs McAleese will be taking part in tomorrow’s Dublin Pride Parade.
The two-term President was speaking at an event in Navan, County Meath this afternoon.
In a wide-ranging talk, she also said arguments against women in the priesthood are "untenable” – and labelled Pope Francis a disappointment when it comes to women’s rights.
She remains a practicing Catholic – however she views the church’s teaching on homosexuality as another dark chapter in the church’s history.
“The Catholic church’s teaching on homosexuality is in my view evil,” she said.
“It conduces to homophobia; homophobia is evil; it ruins people’s lives, it has ruined families lives, it has caused people to commit suicide, it has caused people to live in dark shadows, so unsure of themselves.
File photo of former Irish President Mary McAleese, 27-09-2011. Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews
The Irish Government last week apologised to gay men who had been criminalised for homosexual acts – as recently as 25 years ago.
Highlighting the experiences of her son Justin McAleese, a married gay man, she said the church has a lot to answer for.
“He used to rush out in the morning; he was the first out to mass, loved being an altar boy, loved the church; loved the magic and the mystique of it.
“And then to discover when he was in his teens that that same church has a view on him which is inimical to the way god made him and to retreat into the shadows of self doubt, of misery, of being really frightened.
“That is un-Christian; that is worse than un-charitable in my view; that has to stop.
“The only person who can actually stop that strangely enough is the Pope.”