One supporter on Twitter said: "The fierceness in Mary McAleese's voice as she denounces the paper-thin basis of "theology" underpinning the refusal to ordain women as priests is remarkable".
In her address, the Belfast-born lawyer said that if the pope comes to Ireland in August, he should add Newry to his itinerary due to the clerical child sex abuse allegations which led to Bishop John McAreavey standing down.
Organisers then chose to move its Why Women Matter conference to a venue outside the Vatican. Women are the leaven in the cake.
Women are walking away from the Catholic Church in droves, for those who are expected to be key influencers in their children's faith formation have no opportunity to be key influencers in the formation of the Catholic faith.
McAleese referred to the fact that Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin recently felt compelled to remark that "the low standing of women in the Catholic Church is the most significant reason for the feeling of alienation towards it in Ireland today". "Women do not have strong role models in the Church they can look up to", McAleese told reporters, according to Irish state broadcaster RTE.
Professor Beattie said the lack of discussion over women's roles was the major problem, and urged Church leaders to follow the section on dialogue in Pope Francis' family life text, Amoris Laetitia.
In relation to Pope Francis, Ms McAleese said: "The hopes that I had for him and about him and about the church that he might help us to create, dwindled into disappointment".
"Francis has said a "deeper theology of women" is needed".
The Church teaches that women can not be ordained priests because Jesus chose only men as his apostles. That is how ludicrous our Church has become.
She was the opening speaker at the conference on Thursday and spoke on the theme "The time is now for change in the Catholic Church'".
She said th church "which regularly criticises the secular world for its failure to deliver on human rights has nearly no culture of critiquing itself".