Mary McAleese accuses the leadership of the Catholic Church for failing to rid themselves of sexism and misogyny.

The former President of Ireland Mary McAleese took a scathing hit at the Catholic Church on International Women’s Day 2018, accusing them of being one of the world’s worst perpetrators of misogyny and sexism.

“This regrettable situation arises because the Catholic Church has long since been a primary global carrier of the toxic virus of misogyny,” McAleese said as she spoke in Rome at the Why Women Matter conference organized by  Voices of Faith, which features the voices prominent Catholic women from around the world.

“Its leadership has never sought a cure for that virus although the cure is freely available. Its name is equality.”  

Read more: Irish Catholicism is dying - no new priests and falling mass attendance

Mary McAleese says the Catholic Church is the "primary global carrier of the toxic virus of misogyny"

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 8, 2018

The Voices of Faith conference was celebrating the International Women’s Day on March 8 by demanding that women have a greater say in the leadership of the Church. Their demands for gender equality were censored by Vatican radio, however, and Pope Francis declined to attend or to say mass for those attending.

McAleese, who was the second woman to hold the role of the Irish Presidency, continued to claim the Catholic Church to be “one of the last great bastions of misogyny."

"It's an empire of misogyny," she said.

"There are so few leadership roles currently available to women.”

Read more: Vatican bars former Irish president Mary McAleese

Stupid misogynistic codology dressed up as theology. Impossible to argue with Mary McAleese’s take on the Catholic hierarchy.

— Conor Pope (@conor_pope) March 8, 2018

Pope Francis has previously stated that he would be willing for women to hold higher positions within the Catholic Church but not for them to be ordained as priests.

Of the Holy See, McAleese commented that women “experience the church as a male bastion of patronizing platitudes to which Pope Francis has added his quota.

"John Paul II has written of the ‘mystery of women’. Talk to us as equals and we will not be a mystery," she concluded.

The Voices of Faith conference is held annually on International Women’s Day within the Vatican but this year the list of official speakers did not meet with Vatican approval and so was forced to be held across the road from Vatican City in the headquarters of the Jesuit religious order.

Mary McAleese says the fact "male celibates advise the Pope on what women really want" shows "how ludicrous [the Catholic] Church has become":

— (@thejournal_ie) March 8, 2018

Among the speakers who failed to meet with the approval of the Catholic Church hierarchy was a Ugandan woman who champions Lesbian and Gay Catholic rights in her country. Homosexuality is still regarded as a sin in Uganda.

Senior Vatican official Kevin Farrell, an Irish-born US cleric, felt that participation from this woman and McAleese in the conference was "not appropriate" and attempted to bar them. The event had been organized to  “empower and advocate for Catholic women to have a seat at the table of decision making in the Catholic Church.”

Back in November 2015, McAleese stated that she was so ashamed of the Catholic Church that she considered leaving. She contemplated leaving, in particular, because of their opposition to gay rights and opposition to the ordination of female priests.

“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.

“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.”

Mary McAleese says the fact "male celibates advise the Pope on what women really want" shows "how ludicrous [the Catholic] Church has become":

— (@thejournal_ie) March 8, 2018

McAleese's challenge to the Church on International Women's Day was accepted by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who said he "accepts the challenge with the humility of one who recognizes her alienation."

Do you agree with Mary McAleese? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.