The line-up represented at the conference reflects numerous progressive-minded Catholic feminist voices who have been leading the charge for women's ordination for the last several decades.
A release for the event had said: "Warry understands the tragedy that can happen when the Church excludes persecuted groups rather than joining them in seeking protection, dignity and justice".
"Yet our Church insists on flying on one wing, overlooking and wasting the talents and insights of so many wonderful, faithful, Godly women. Why?"
"How long can the hierarchy sustain the credibility of a God who wants things this way, who wants a Church where women are invisible and voiceless in Church leadership?" she said in her address.
"Today's Catholic church lags noticeably behind advanced nations in the elimination of the discrimination against women - a disgrace for an organisation which..."
"Its leadership has never sought a cure for that virus, though the cure is freely available - its name is equality", she said.
Chantal Götz, managing director of Voices of Faith, echoed the sentiment.
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In a strongly-worded speech, McAleese singled out Pope Francis, challenging him to "develop a credible strategy for the inclusion of women as equals" and added: "Pope Francis has said that "women are more important than men because the Church is a woman". "There are many, many other possibilities that are open, so why not push for that?"
Ireland's President Mary McAleese, accompanied by her husband Martin McAleese, poses for a picture with orphaned girls during her visit to Tibnin Orphanage, southern Lebanon, October 15, 2011.
The conference was due to be held at the Vatican but was switched to a location outside the Vatican at the Jesuit headquarters after McAleese was barred from attending the original event.
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There are only a few women in senior positions in the Vatican - mostly those in departments that look after religious issues. However, it's a question that nearly certainly won't go away - and, this time, repeating the teaching of Inter Insigniores and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, by itself, won't supply an answer.