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Mary McAleese hopes new study will open Vatican's 'eyes and ears' on homosexuality

Former president Mary McAleese, pictured with her husband Martin (second left) and her son Justin (second right) and his husband Fionan (right) during the 2018 Pride Parade in Dublin, is an outspoken critic of Vatican teaching on homosexuality. She has given her support to a new study which calls Pope Francis to urgently change Catholic teaching. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

MARY McAleese has given her backing to a study which claims to have disproved Christian objections to same-sex relationships, speaking of her hope that it will convince the Catholic Church to "open its eyes and ears" on the issue.

The authors of Christian Objections to Same-Sex Relationships: An Academic Assessment say it should result in an "urgent change" in Catholic teaching and "serve as the final nail in the coffin of biblical and other arguments justifying homophobia".

More than 60 prominent Catholic scholars, including Prof McAleese, have signed an 'academic statement' supporting the findings of the two-year study conducted by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The former President, who has been an outspoken critic of the Vatican's stance on homosexuality, said the project was the "first serious attempt to use the tools of interdisciplinary scholarship to challenge, probe and interrogate Church teaching in the area of homosexuality".

"The People of God have needed this to help convince a blinkered magisterium to open its eyes and ears, to see and hear the damage inflicted on good people young and old by teachings that run counter to science and counter to the love of the Creator."

She said the new research - which concludes that key biblical texts on sexuality have been misinterpreted and based on mistranslations - "brings hope where it is needed".

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirmed traditional Church teaching in March when it was asked if same-sex unions could be blessed.

It said the Church could not "impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex".

The statement, which was published with Pope Francis's approval, caused further hurt and anger among those who want the Vatican to change its position when it said that God "does not and cannot bless sin".

The Wijngaards Institute said only a change in Church teaching could "heal the wound".

"Therefore, in virtue of Pope Francis' position, and in light of his record of welcoming words and pastoral attitude towards gay people, he has a unique duty and responsibility to kick-start such an independent study to revisit the teaching he has inherited from his predecessors," it said.

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