Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland, has appealed to the Pope after being barred from giving a talk at the Vatican.

The speech was reportedly blocked by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the American head of the new super-dicastery for the laity, family and life, because of her opposition to Church teaching on homosexuality.

Mrs McAleese, who has said she is “ashamed” of the Church’s teaching, was due to speak at a conference entitled “Why Women Matter” at the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences.

Chantal Götz, director of the Voices of Faith conference, said the list of speakers required approval from Cardinal Farrell. He withheld approval, she said, for Mrs McAleese and Ssenfuka Juanita Warry, a Ugandan gay rights’ campaigner.

Ms Götz opted to change location rather than cancel speakers. The event will now be held at the Jesuit Curia in Rome.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin distanced himself from the Vatican decision. A statement said: “Neither Archbishop Martin nor his offices were consulted by the Vatican in relation to this matter.”

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