Let’s set up a few truths first. The President of Ireland is a purely ceremonial role. The true head of government is the Taoiseach or the equivalent of Prime Minister, the leadership role in many European countries. The President of Ireland cuts ribbons and reviews troops and lights Christmas trees at shopping malls.
Mary McAleese was fortunate enough to be elected to this pleasant, light weight role in Ireland. She had no role in leadership or legislation. Now, retired, with even more time on her hands to kill, she took herself off to Rome to study Canon Law and be a dual degreed lawyer. To hear her, you would think she was groundbreaking, a big deal and some force to be reckoned with. Sadly, she cannot live up to her own PR. She wrote a book that is useless and far from being the best seller she expected. Let me tell you from experience of more than twenty-six years, that being a dual degreed Civil /Canon Lawyer in 2016 is not groundbreaking, even for a woman. Right now, there are more than one hundred of us in the US. At least half are women. If she is not groundbreaking, how about being a role model?
A recent interview of her in a Northern Ireland newspaper shows she is not that either. In her home country of Northern Ireland, she is quoted as saying that her canon law studies have “filled her head up with crap.” Classy. With all of that education, could she not come up with something a little less crass? What a lost opportunity! But this comment shows the type of person she is. After serving as President of Ireland, even a ceremonial talking head, could she not have said something worthwhile to be quoted on? She goes on to bad mouth the marriage annulment process and indicate that this type of work is beneath her. She opines that the hierarchical structure of the Church is “not serving its purpose.” And intimates that she is going to fix that. Pope Francis Look out!
I studied for my Canon Law license in Rome at the Ang. For me, that was the best way for me to truly experience the universal Church, warts and all. For twenty six years I have worked independently as a Canon Lawyer through books and advocacy, to make a difference. I have worked with Marriage Tribunals as well. McAleese must have just gone for the food and the sights. She doesn’t seem to have taken in anything deeper than that during her Roman studies. As a Canon Lawyer, a lay person and a woman, I find her to be an embarrassment.