The Wijngaards Institute for Research & Mary McAleese

Sep 15, 2016 | 0 comments


“The Wijngaards Institute is an international not-for-profit Christian educator founded in 1983 by theologian Dr John Wijngaards, then lecturer at the Missionary Institute London.”

The institute describes itself as  “an international network of advisers, cooperators and volunteers.

“We focus on research in key areas of Christian theology where the official Catholic teachings and practice are in need of reform. Our network includes university professors, researchers, translators, leaders in commerce and industry, religious, clergy, teachers, and so on. They work in institutions all over the world, from Canada to Indonesia and China, and contribute, each in their own way, by providing free ad hoc assistance with regard to academic research, translations, and other tasks.”

For the website of the Wijngaards Institute, click here.


Among the academics associated with the institute is Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, with high qualifications in both civil and canon law.

Here she contributes to the Institute on the impact of Humanae Vitae on her family – the papal document banning the use of ‘artificial’ contraceptives for family planning.

“This is personal. I am the oldest of nine children and one of the sixty live children my mother and her siblings produced. Ours is precisely the kind of large Catholic clan system so beloved of flattering papal documents on the family. Yet while our parents handed on to my generation the baton of a strong but docile Catholic faith they never encouraged us to have the big families they had. They had their reasons and they were too obvious to need to be stated. The baton like the proverbial penny was already dropping. My generation largely rejected Humanae Vitae‘s ban on artificial contraception and along with it magisterial control over family size. Our small families testify to that.”

“I still remember the evening our parish priest, in front of us children, lambasted my forty year old mother for having had a hysterectomy without his permission and while still of child-bearing age. She had by then had eleven pregnancies and a history of haemorrhages which had left her dangerously ill and chronically weak. He left her in a spiritual agony which lingers even today.

“All over the world good, decent, faith-filled men and women are infantilised and robbed by Humanae Vitae of their God-given right and obligation to make sensible adult decisions in the best interests of their health, their relationships and their children. The damage inflicted particularly on the poor, on women, on children, on relationships, on health, on society and not least on the Church itself, is a millstone around our necks and we are drowning. It needs to be removed in conscience, in justice and in Christ for as this Scholars’ Statement explains compellingly it has no basis in divine law.”

Prof Mary McAleese, Distinguished Professor in Irish Studies at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London; previously Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, and Pro-Vice Chancellor, Queen’s University, Belfast.


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