Former president Mary McAleese has said she was hopeful that Pope Francis would change the Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality, which she described as "evil".

She was speaking in Dublin where she received the inaugural Vanguard award for her support for the LGBT community.

Mrs McAleese said Pope Francis changed the church's position on capital punishment last week, which she said showed that doctrines could be changed.

She said we have been fed a view that church teachings cannot be changed, however, she said the Pope "exploded that myth" when he reversed the position on capital punishment.

The former president said she was hopeful that the "evil" teachings on homosexuality would also be changed.

She said she never received a reply from Pope Francis when she wrote to him earlier this year after an attempt to exclude her from an international women’s conference in Rome.

Mrs McAleese said she received "an acknowledgement of a considered reply".

"I had faith in this pope and it would be wrong to say anything other than I am disappointed," she said.

She also said that it was regrettable and bad manners that he did not reply.

Mrs McAleese said she hoped this year's World Meeting of Families would be different to other years when there had been homophobic messages.

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She was awarded the Vanguard Award at the Gaze LGBT Film Festival in Dublin.

The award was presented to the former president by filmmaker John Butler on the closing night of the festival at the Light House Cinema in Smithfield.

The five-day festival, now in its 26th year, closed with the film ‘Love, Scott’.

It follows the story of Scott Jones, a young gay musician who was attacked and paralysed from the waist down.

Sarah Williams, chairperson of the Board of the GAZE LGBT Film Festival said: "We are genuinely humbled that Dr Mary McAleese has accepted our invitation to be the recipient of the inaugural Vanguard Award.

"Dr McAleese's unwavering support for the advancement of the LGBT+ community has been widely acknowledged and praised, and we felt very strongly that we wanted to present her with this award this evening to mark her achievements."

Mr Butler said: "It's an honour to present this award to a life-long hero of mine, what an inspiration and what a contribution to Irish life."