Former President of Ireland and theology academic said she has "no intention whatsoever" of going to confession after voting with the majority of Ireland to change abortion law.
Former President Mary McAleese has said she is not going to Confession despite two bishops saying Catholics who voted in favor of abortion in the recent referendum should consider visiting the confessional.
McAleese said she voted in favor of repealing the Eighth Amendment which enshrined a ban on abortion with a “heart and a half.” The people of Ireland voted by two to one in favor of the repeal and allowing the government to introduce legislation that will permit abortions up to 12 weeks pregnancy.
After the referendum last month the Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran and Bishop of Waterford Alphonsus Cullinan said that Catholics who voted yes to the repeal should consider going to Confession.
McAleese was speaking at a We Are Church event in Dublin on Saturday when she was interviewed by journalist Ursula Halligan. Asked in the interview if she had gone to Confession after voting yes, McAleese replied, “I have no intention whatsoever of doing so.”
She said the Catholic Church had “really not come to terms with the clash between people’s human rights and canon law.”
She added, “Times have changed. And one of the things that have changed is our understanding of our human rights. Among those human rights: freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, freedom of religion, freedom to change religion.
“Within the Catholic Church, none of those fundamental freedoms are available fully to church members, according to canon law,”
McAleese indicated her vote was partially influenced by the death of Savita Halappanavar who died from sepsis at University Hospital Galway in October 2012 after she was refused a termination when she was having a miscarriage.
McAleese said the report into Halappanavar’s death implicated the Eighth Amendment.
She added, “As someone who has met Savita and just thought she was pure wonderful, it just came between me and my peace of mind.”
McAleese said she had met Savita when she was helping to organize an event at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland.
“She was dressed in the most beautiful Indian costume. She was just a beautiful girl. It is just heartbreaking,” McAleese said.
“I have a daughter around the same age who has had two babies and you like to think if your daughter is pregnant that all will go well, and that you’re not going to follow a coffin. Two coffins, a little baby and her.
“The upshot is that I voted ‘Yes’ this time around with a heart and a half.”
McAleese said she would like to see her church flourish and not hurt people the way it did. She said she would like to see the church stop hurting LGBT people and women and for it to become “a champion of complete diversity and inclusion.”
Asked if she would keep speaking out, she said she would do so “for as long as there is breath in my body.”