BY SIMON CALDWELL
A LAY GROUP in the United States is campaigning to stop Irish President Mary McAleese from visiting a Catholic university because of her support for women priests.
The Cardinal Newman Society objects to the invitation of Mrs McAleese to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, where she will receive an honorary degree and deliver the commencement (graduation) day address on May 21.
Patrick Reilly, the group's president, said that "at first glance" she appeared to be a good candidate because she is a practising Catholic who has spoken out against abortion, contraception and in vitro fertilisation.
But he said that before she was elected eighth President of Ireland in 1997 she was a "vocal dissident from the Church's infallible teaching on the male priesthood, and her statements about Vatican leaders have been strident and offensive".
"Unless McAleese publicly recants her position, Notre Dame's choice to honour her is a scandal," Mr Reilly said A spokeswoman for Mrs McAleese said that the President had nothing to say "apart from that she is very much looking forward to visiting Notre Dame and attending their commencement ceremony".