The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Silencing: The Truth Obscured.
Archbishop Brown stated on RTE’s Drive Time programme (15/03/13), that the while the CDF could become involved in silencing issues, they have no reason to do so because it is a matter for the priest’s immediate superior.
Why then is the procedure carried out as follows?
- Writings of a priest are denounced, often anonymously, to the CDF.
- The CDF appoints an anonymous consulter to investigate.
- The head of the order is commanded to appear before the CDF and renunciation of the accused’s work is demanded.
- On non-compliance, the superior is ordered to impose sanctions on the accused, ranging from censoring of their work, to threats of the removal of their rights to exercise priestly faculties.
In the particular case of Sean Fagan, a letter signed by the then prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger, was sent to the Archbishop Brady in 2004. In it he demanded, after referring to asking for four years, that ‘Your Grace publish a ‘Notification’ on Fr. Fagan’s book ‘Does Morality Change?’.
This letter ‘with full deliberation’, authorised the Primate of Ireland to instruct Fr. Fagan’s superiors to obtain a public declaration that, inter alia, in vitro fertilisation and contraception are intrinsic evils.
As this was not forthcoming, the Notification on Recent Developments in Moral Theology and their Implication for Church and Society’ was published on their website by the Irish Bishops Conference in July 2004, on the specific orders of the CDF.
This is incontrovertible proof that the CDF control the issue of silencing. They pull the strings from the first often anonymous denunciation, to the policing of the Order to enforce sanctions.
In keeping with the secret nature of this Congregation, the public face of this procedure is firmly located in the immediate superiors. Thus when faced with any questions in relation to silencing/censoring/ threats, Vatican representatives trot out the disingenuous, ‘it is a matter for their superiors’ line.
The behaviour of the CDF is shameful and a disgrace to the Church. It is so unbelievable and cruel that is has to be kept secret. The culture of spying, secrecy, denouncing and condemning a human being, goes against all social justice systems in modern society.
It would be a positive sign, at this time of new beginnings in the Catholic Church, if the Irish bishops, heed the request of the ACP to meet with the silenced and censored Irish priests to address the basic issue of fairness and justice for all concerned. The compassionate Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ cannot continue to be dragged into disrepute by secretive and unaccountable Roman bureaucracy.