Mary McAleese says the Church's homophobic teachings makes kids feel ashamed when they find out they' are gay
A former Irish President has said the Catholic Church is partly responsible for the growing number of gay men who take their own lives.
Mary McAleese, who served from 1997 to 2011, said when the research is broken down, it shows young gay teens are one of the most at-risk groups in Ireland.
Speaking to RTÃ‰ Radio, McAleese said many of these young men will have gone to Catholic schools and they will have heard their church’s attitude to homosexuality.
She said: ‘They will have heard words like disorder, they may even have heard the word evil used in relation to homosexual practice.
‘And when they make the discovery, and it is a discovery and not a decision, when they make the discovery that they are gay, when they are 14, 15, or 16, an internal conflict of absolutely appalling proportions opens up.’
McAleese said many young gay men are driven into a place that is ‘dark and bleak’, and they feel they only have one option left.
The former president said she met with the Papal Nuncio shortly after Easter this year to raise with him her concern about the growing number of suicides.
However, she said the issue will not be tacked until the ‘omerta’ or code of silence on the issue is broken.
The urgency of the gay teen suicide problem is reflected in studies which show over a quarter of young and gay men have attempted suicide, and four times more men have taken their own life in Ireland than in the UK.
Dublin City University research also found a majority of teachers reported homophobic bullying in their schools, but said they felt less equipped to handle it than with other forms of bullying.
Recently, the Pope has described gay people as a ‘defection of human nature’, and said marriage equality ‘threatens society’.