Ahead of her visit as part of St Patrick’s Day meetings, Ms Zappone said: “I definitely concur with Mary McAleese’s thoughts. I would have been of that view for many, many years. I think it is really important to continue the dialogue and I will be both visiting the Holy See in the context of the ambassador’s residence and also having lunch in the Irish College in Rome.
She said she will be there “as a senior minister from Ireland and bring a respect for different aspects of the tradition but certainly not the misogyny of the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church”.
Yesterday, Mrs McAleese revealed her heartbreak on learning recently of the abuse her brother suffered as a child at the hands of a sadistic paedophile priest.
She told Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ radio that her brother, Clem Leneghan, 49, had been “seriously, physically, sadistically” abused by Fr Malachy Finnegan, a former president of St Colman’s College in Newry, Co Down.
My youngest brother, my baby brother, was seriously, physically and sadistically abused by Malachy Finnegan,” she said. “My mother, almost 90 years of age, had to discover that from an article in the Belfast Telegraph three weeks ago.
In a letter to that newspaper on February 13, Mr Leneghan called Fr Finnegan a sadist, but added he had never suffered sexual abuse.