Former Irish president Mary McAleese revealed how Pope John Paul refused to shake her hand when they met and shook her husband’s hand, instead, asking him “would you not prefer to be the president of Ireland instead of your wife?”

McAleese recalled she quickly interjected: “You would never have done that to a male president. I’m the elected president of Ireland whether you like it or not.”

McAleese was speaking at an event hosted by the Irish American Partnership in Boston.

Disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law also tried to intimidate her stating, “I’m sorry for Catholic Ireland to have you as president,” she recalled when they met.

Former Irish president Mary McAleese.

Former Irish president Mary McAleese.

Law brought her to a room where a female right-wing lawyer and theologian Mary Ann Glendon was waiting and tried to brief her on why only men should have positions of power in the Catholic Church.

Read more: Former Irish president Mary McAleese brands Catholic Church “empire of misogyny”

Pope Benedict XVI meets U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon during a private audience at the Vatican on February 29, 2008. (OSSERVATORE ROMANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI meets U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon during a private audience at the Vatican on February 29, 2008. (OSSERVATORE ROMANO/AFP/Getty Images)

She said: “His remarks were utterly inappropriate and unwelcome.

“Cardinal Law lambasted me and a considerable number of the official delegation after ushering us into a room where a well-known American conservative Catholic, Mary Ann Glendon, was waiting to lecture me on my views on women priests.”

McAleese told the Independent newspaper that the cardinal’s language and attitude were nasty and he demanded that she sit down and listen to the orthodox view on women’s ordination from Glendon.

She added: “We were initially gobsmacked by this arrogant man.

“I then told the cardinal that I was the President of Ireland and not just of Catholic Ireland.”

McAleese then revealed how a heated argument broke out between the two.

She said: “I felt he had insulted Ireland and the Irish people.”

Martin and Mary McAleese. Image:

Martin and Mary McAleese. Image:

The paper also reports that she confronted the Irish hierarchy on her return to Ireland to find out if they had been briefing Cardinal Law.

She recalled that Cardinal Desmond Connell was “visibly upset” and found it “unacceptable.”

McAleese said: “He was morally certain there was no input from the Irish bishops.”

Cardinal Cahal Daly apologized to the President at an official launch and confirmed that an invitation by the Irish bishops to Cardinal Law to come to Ireland had been rescinded.

Law was later at the center of a huge pedophile priest scandal and was forced to resign before fleeing to Rome.

Read more: Mary McAleese says Vatican tried to block documents on Irish sex abuse

On International Women’s Day 2018 McAleese took a scathing hit at the Catholic Church, 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.

McAleese has also come to blows with Pope Francis.

McAleese has also come to blows with Pope Francis.

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

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.”

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.

Do you think there should be Catholic female priests? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below. 

Read more: The Irish nun who nursed Pope Francis as a baby in Buenos Aires

* Originally published in Jan 2019.

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