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Fr. Iggy O’Donovan says ‘goodbye’ to Drogheda

Extract from Fr Iggy O’Donovan’s farewell homily at Drogheda
I cannot leave here today without making some reference to a distinguished colleague of mine in the priesthood. I speak of Fr Tony Flannery. If I had not been made aware first hand of the details of this case I could not have given it credence. Even hardened veterans are shaken by the murkiness of the devious world of ecclesiastical politics. How has it come to this, that a great and good priest like Tony, who has dedicated his life to the preaching of the Gospel is persecuted with a zeal that is as pathological as the paranoia that feeds it?? How has it come to this, that intolerant and extreme right wingers – encouraged apparently by certain authorities, and career-orientated priests can meet in solemn conclave to determine who is guilty of what these people label heresy? How has it come to this that sincere thinking Catholics are walking away from our Church believing that the battle for sane Catholicism is lost?
I still believe and am strongly of the conviction that Catholicism is compatible with modern culture. I deeply welcome the arrival of Pope Francis. So we dream on. I cling to my foolish dream when to paraphrase the words of the late Fr George Tyrell, himself a victim of oppression, “when the Catholic people represented by their bishops and their Pope will assemble not to decide and impose points of theology, ethics and politics under the threat of excommunication, but to proclaim the gospel of God’s Kingdom upon earth as it was proclaimed by Jesus Christ; to preach unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials, charity in all things”

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  1. Brendan Cafferty says:

    Well said Iggy. I am a bit worried you also are getting some raw treatment, maybe you do not want to speak about it, and I can understand that. What a time we live in, best of times (Pope Francis) worst of times (CDF)
    What concerns me is that so many good people are remaining silent on these issues, perhaps they have have given up the ghost and just walked away ? But whats left then, zealots, right wingers, fundamentalists ?

  2. Mary O Vallely says:

    I suppose, as a 63 year old grandmother I react from the heart and from the gut. My late father was a lapsed Catholic for a while when I was growing up. He had a shelf of books ranging from Plato to the latest philosophers and he read them all. Walking to mass with him one day years later he told me that he had sought God ‘here’, pointing to his head, but found him ‘here’, pointing to his heart. I have never forgotten this wise lesson. It is also where I meet Christ every day. My gut, my heart reacts to the Christ like figure I see in people like Tony Flannery, Iggy O’Donovan, Pope Francis, Soline Humbert, Teresa Mee and so many others. It is an instinctive reaction and I believe it to be true. (before ye get delusions of grandeur I said Christ LIKE! :-))
    Pope Francis talks about the necessity of dialogue yet ‘secrecy and deception and intimidation’ (to quote Bill O’Herlihy at the launch of “A Question of Conscience”) are still the hallmarks of the CDF. There is and always has been a climate of fear. Is this why so many priests who agree with Tony Flannery are afraid to speak out in support? By the way, why is it that all the priests silenced so far are Order priests?? Where are the diocesan priests?
    Surely the greatest obstacle to dialogue is a judgmental rigidity? I’m thinking of Paul the Pharisee before Damascus. Frightening figure. Probably sincere but Christ like mercy hadn’t yet entered his heart. (I’m no scholar, remember, this is gut instinct).
    Dialogue presupposes an openness to listening to the other, to setting aside one’s own thoughts to allow the other’s expressed thoughts to be heard, to be mulled over and allow the debate to begin. We are not accustomed to it in the Church and we badly need practice.
    The wonderful Iggy O’Donovan (to use the name he goes by and Baptism trumps Ordination, does it not) reminded us of Fr George Tyrell’s warning, “charity in all things.” We cannot dialogue unless we have charity in our hearts.
    As a virtual community of faith we are all united in prayer behind Tony Flannery (the name he goes by himself), Iggy, Sean Fagan and the others who suffer so much because they dared to follow Christ, they dared to make a noise, to kick up a fuss and are now being punished for it.
    Mary V from Armagh

  3. Linda, Derry says:

    Unfortunately Fr. O’Donovan is right in asserting that Catholicism is, in some parishes anyway, compatible with modern culture, so much so that the two are often sadly indistinguishable. This should not be so, Jesus said the world would hate HIS followers as the world hates HIM, we are to battle the nefarious influence of Satan in the world, as instruments/ branches of Jesus the Vine.As Jesus said, no-one, regardless of who wrongly feels they have any authority to contradict his words, is ‘good’ ,all sin, and that includes myself, but OurLady said, more seriously, that a lot of her children in the world, and indeed many clergy, are completely under the influence and control of Satan. It is neither Christian nor sane to try and adapt Christ to the world, the function of Catholics is to conform themselves primarily, and then, encourage society/culture to also conform to Christ.To do anything else is pointless.:-)

  4. Eddie Finnegan says:

    In our Father’s House there are many mansions.
    I’m hoping to rent a dog kennel or broom cupboard as far from Linda, Derry’s palatial residence on Medjugorje Boulevard, as my few shekels will afford.

  5. Brendan Cafferty says:

    Heard the Mayor of Drogheda Richie Culhane on Newstalk just now on this issue, he spoke very well about Fr. Iggy and all the good work he has done and how people warmed to him, especially young people who were there yesterday. It seems Iggy is latest to get Vatican Fatwa, he is being banished to Limerick for a year and must keep low profile. Culhane called on the Vatican to give Iggy back to them. How long is this type of thing going to continue, and we may come to the conclusion that Pope Francis is just a figurehead who has brought no real change. And what are the rest of us who really care doing,not much maybe, but too many just shrugging their shoulders and walking away ?

  6. Kay Mcginty says:

    The size, enthusiasm and depth of feeling of the congregation at the 1.15 mass in the Augustinian Church in Drogheda yesterday was a testament to the measure of respect for and gratitude to Fr. Iggy O’Donovan O.S.A. His parting words to the people of Drogheda who regularly attend the Augustinian mass, to the community groups with whom he has worked, to the young people and the schools under his pastoral care, reflect the understanding and dedication Fr . Iggy has shown this town in his ministry in Drogheda. The church overflowed with young and old, and the liturgy was beautifully enhanced with music and song from the combined talents of many people. Thank you Fr . Iggy, we wish you the best in Limerick .
    “Masons, when they start upon a building , are careful to test out the scaffolding; make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points, secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints. And yet all this comes down when the job’s done, showing off walls of sure and solid stone. So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be old bridges breaking between you and me, never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall, confident we have built our wall. ” (Scaffolding, Seamus Heaney)

  7. Linda, Derry says:

    Thanks Eddie, your Christian kindness is endearing!:-/


  9. Mícheál says:

    It’s very convenient to cite Our Lady’s statement that there are clergy under the control of Satan. Now, I was talking to her last night and she was very upset about Fr. Iggy being transferred. She also told me that many bishops, including some in Ireland, are under the control of Satan and that is she is deeply saddened by the way they abuse the power of their office to persecute good men and women. By the way, she said she was looking forward to the day when the Church would fully recognize the ministry of women – she had a quizzical smile on her face and would add no more. I’m expecting her later tomorrow and will keep you posted.

  10. Linda, Derry says:

    ….and Satan is the father of lies Michael. Who are you imitating? “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) Regarding the ‘Wall of Silence’ by the Bishops, if you’ll excuse the pun, it ‘speaks volumes’….”But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer” ( Mark 14:61) Who are THEY imitating?
    Take Care and God Bless Michael 🙂

  11. Mícheál says:

    Linda, stringing a series of biblical quotes together out of context doesn’t really shed any light on the matter. Consider this:
    So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. (Mt 25:6-7) Go thou and do likewise (Lk10:37).
    Equally, appeals to what ‘Our Lady said’ are really void, where they relate to apparitions that are imaginary at best.
    You wrote “As Jesus said, no-one, regardless of who wrongly feels they have any authority to contradict his words, is ‘good’ ,all sin, and that includes myself, but…” which literally makes no sense to me.
    For my part, I believe the world to be redeemed by Christ’s incarnation, that we can indeed find holiness in our world and its many cultures. You will recall that Christ’s was extremely harsh on the religious leaders of his day, who created huge burdens for people but who wold not carry them themselves.
    I have, sadly, come to the belief that the most dangerous people on earth are those who believe that God on ‘their’ side and that therefore everyone else is ‘evil’, ‘under the influence of Satan’ , ‘corrupt’, ‘sinful’ etc.
    Fr. Iggy has done trojan work in Drogheda. A sound tree cannot produce rotten fruit. Thank God there are men like Iggy and Tony Flannery and Gerry Moloney, as well as the countless men and women who have been sidelined by the bureaucracy of the church and yet believe, who bear witness to the work of the Spirit throughout their lives. Thank God that there are men and women in the church who use their faculties to think, to reflect, to wonder, who will not conform obediently and blindly to a corrupt institution, who know Christ enough that they have the courage to reject injustice in all its forms, who have the courage to imitate the suffering, crucified Christ.
    Finally, I seem to recall that Christ himself did not stay silent. I think that is profoundly prophetic that we have priests who care enough to speak out against the cancer that church power has become in the body of Christ. And I am sure that our Lady agrees.

  12. Micheal, Eddie do I detect something of the same intolerance,derision, condescention of the clericalism you castigate- oh that should be episcopalism, as it is very clear to me that clericalism is alive and well in the ACP.

  13. Mícheál says:

    @pew view
    Do you recall Yes Minister? Bernard Wooley had a nose for curious language.
    “It’s one of those irregular verbs, isn’t it?
    I have an independent mind, You are eccentric, He is round the twist.
    That’s another of those irregular verbs, isn’t it?
    I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he’s being charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act.”
    Within the Church,
    I am loyal and obedient, you are condescending, she is clericalist.

  14. Linda, Derry says:

    Michael, Just to clarify, we are, I believe, to conform TO CHRIST, not just to ‘the Church’ which has many bad role-models. You better believe that Our Lady agrees that there are problems in ‘the Church’, far too much boring focus on and preaching of itself and its problems rather than Jesus, for a start, as if anyone would be attracted to what seems like a dysfunctional and chaotic yet strangely self-righteous mess…

  15. Would anyone else agree that this is a great example of how the Association of Catholic Priests has turned in on itself?
    The one part of a priest’s speech chosen to be put on the web-site is to praise another priest in the ACP!
    Incredulous- Is this not a perfect example of clericalism-
    Happy to listen to your response.

  16. Margaret Trench says:

    I would have to say to Anthony at 15 above that I see this article as a great example of what this site and this organisation should be about- priests supporting priests.
    As lay people we know too well the richness of support that we receive from our spouses and family.
    I always believed that, in the absence of such a support structure, priests should be encouraged to reach out and provide some level of care to one another.
    It’s wonderful that it’s now happening so much here on this site.

  17. Kay Mcginty says:

    Totally agree with you , Margaret.

  18. I remember when the archbishop exercised his right to forbid Iggy from inviting a campaigner for childrens’ safety to address a church gathering. I remember also that at that time while visiting Northern Ireland I became aware that there had recently been a spate of suicides of young people in one small (Catholic) locality in that same diocese. I never got any sense at the time that the archbishop was in any way part of the solution or that there was a real ministry able to reach young people. Unless I missed something?

  19. Linda, Derry says:

    With respect, I must say I do NOT agree with Margaret, I see in her comment an insinuation/implication that the priesthood are out on their own, removed from and without support from the laity, their spiritual ‘family’, I mean not only vitally important constant prayer support, but, as has been an issue in Derry recently, financial support for church renovations. I believe laity, where proper adherence to Catholic Truth by the priest merits it, should also take proper responsibility for these matters, spending less on frivolous nonsense and a bit more on God’s House, thus freeing up the time and mind of the priesthood from such worries to focus on Jesus, Prayer and Souls, rather than the time-consuming, stressful indignity of demeaning fundraising activities. 🙂

  20. Mary O Vallely says:

    With respect, Linda, Derry, I am with Margaret @16, that “priests should be encouraged to reach out and provide some level of care to one another.” This site creates a space for priests and laity to do that reaching out to each other, to show that support. We have to remember that we are all the people of God and if we don’t humanise our priests and allow them to show their humanity, we do them a great injustice. Just because a priest puts on a soutane doesn’t mean he becomes God like and less human, that he cannot feel as the rest of us are allowed to feel.
    “Worries” are part and parcel of being human and a priest is entitled to have them just as much as the rest of us! That said, I accept, as you say, that we should help relieve them of their worries as much as possible. It’s a quid pro quo. If we see each other as human we will extend that support to each other.
    Your support for priests is admirable but I think you may have particular concerns in your own parish from what you say above which colours your view of the priesthood in general.

  21. Stephen Edward says:

    ‘What’s left, zealots, fundamentalists and right wingers?’ Well thanks for the tolerance that we orthodox Catholics have come to expect from those who consider themselves ‘progressive’. Dialogue seems so often to involve demonisation?

  22. Mícheál says:

    It seems to me that Margaret made a number of statements:
    1. This article is a great example of what this site and this organisation should be about- priests supporting priests.
    2. As lay people we know too well the richness of support that we receive from our spouses and family.
    3. In the absence of such a support structure, priests should be encouraged to reach out and provide some level of care to one another.
    4. It’s wonderful that it’s now happening so much here on this site.
    Linda, which of these do you disagree with? Most catholic clergy do not have spouses. Some have no family. Are you suggesting that priests should not reach out and provide some level of care to one another?

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