A group that advocates for greater leadership roles for women in the Catholic Church says the Vatican is refusing to allow former Irish President Mary McAleese participate in an annual event marking International Women's Day.

McAleese, who has a gay son and has criticized the church's position on LGBT issues, was invited to participate in a panel discussion on women in church governance at the March 8 event. In previous years, the event has been held in the Vatican gardens.

The Voices of Faith group submitted names of a dozen panelists to Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican's laity office. The group said Friday that Farrell rejected McAleese and a Ugandan LGBT rights advocate.

The event will now be held at the Jesuit headquarters outside Vatican territory.