Former Irish President Mary McAleese revealed she has contemplated leaving the Catholic Church because of their opposition to gay rights and the ordination of female priests.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, McAleese, whose son Justin is gay, said she was “ashamed” of the Church’s attitude toward gay rights and women’s right, attitudes she feels are still championed by the current Pope Francis.

“I am ashamed, frankly, of my church’s failure to be a champion of gay rights and of women’s rights. I am ashamed of my church’s involvement historically in anti-Semitism,” she said.

“The church wouldn’t necessarily have to be a champion of gay marriage. I’m quite happy for the church to stay away from civil marriage and let the State provide for that – that is not the issue.”

Revealing that her son was gay during the campaign in the lead up to March’s same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland, McAleese came out strongly in support of a yes vote. She told The Irish Catholic Newspaper that having a gay son has given her “an even greater insight” into the problems that face the LGBT community.

“I see my church as a major conduit for homophobia, which is toxic - a form of hatred that has nothing to do with Christ and is un-Christian,” she said.

Words of wisdom from former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese. Organised religion drives homophobia pic.twitter.com/jYuCRyqyBm

— Bill (kwaZuma) (@Bamburi) October 9, 2015

McAleese continued to say she hoped the Church could change in the future, stating that she would “like to see the church take responsibility for the extent to which its words and its language conduces to homophobia”.

The former president confirmed that although she considered the idea of leaving the Catholic Church on occasions because of these problems, she never found another denomination that she felt comfortable with or discovered a faith that felt as much a part of her as Catholicism.

Although she believes that it would have been “an act of craven and unchristian cowardice” not to speak her mind before the referendum which saw Ireland become the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by way of popular vote, she argues, “My views are founded emphatically in the Gospel. That’s where they come from. They don’t come from some weird Godless secular world.”

She said: “I had never found anything to attract me because the Catholic Church is woven into me and I relate to it, and for all its messiness it calls me home.”

Despite her outspoken comments about the Church and its anti-LGBT teaching during the referendum campaign, she confirmed that her faith remains strong and she must accept “the infallible teaching of the church”.

One point, in particular, where she goes against Catholic teaching is on the issue of women priests, which she fully believes in.

Earlier in November, a group of 12 outspoken Irish priests launched a campaign calling for the end of the “systemic oppression of women” within the Catholic Church demanding that female members of the faith are allowed to play any role within the ministry, including priesthood.

The group said: “We are aware that there are many women who are deeply hurt and saddened by this teaching. We also believe that the example given by the Church in discriminating against women encourages and reinforces abuse and violence against women in many cultures and societies.”

Their outspoken actions, however, may now result in their censure as a ban on any further discussion regarding female priests has been in place since 1994, a ban instigated by John Paul II.

You go Mary McAleese ���� pic.twitter.com/YJSjsv0urC

— Brian (@brian_dneen) November 8, 2015

H/T: Irish Times.

Former president and theologian Mary McAleese.Photocall