Indeed, every year since 2014, the Vatican hosts Voices of Faith, an international group of Catholic women, and their event entitled "Why Women Matter" during the International Women's Day.
This year, three pro-LGBTQ speakers were scheduled to make speeches:
- Ssenfuka Joanita Warry, a lesbian and Catholic lawyer from Uganda
- Mary McAleese, former president of Ireland and mother of a gay child, she advocates for LGBTQ rights
- Tina Beattie, an academic who challenged the anti-LGBT rhetoric of the Catholic Church
Through Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the Vatican announced its refusal to welcome the women's group this year. As for Pope Francis, he refused to attend the event and to celebrate a mass as it was planned.
In an interview with the BBC, Mary McAleese denounced homophobia and misogyny within the church: "A Church that is homophobic and anti-abortion is not the church of the future," she said.
“The Catholic Church is one of the last great bastions of misogyny. It’s an empire of misogyny.
“Our voices stir the winds of change, so we must speak out. We don’t want to be what the Pope describes as 'the strawberry on the cake.'"
Chantal Götz, Voices of Faith's managing director, was "surprised and disappointed."
In a press release, Ssenfuka Joanita Warry also added she "understands the tragedy that can happen when the Church excludes persecuted groups rather than joining them in seeking protection, dignity, and justice."