Fr Tony Flannery – Update re his position
A meeting was held on the 9thof March between a deputation and members of the leadership of the Irish Province of the Redemptorist Order to discuss the ongoing treatment of Fr Tony Flannery. Present were Frs Dan Baragry and Gerry O Connor from the Redemptorists, Marie Morrissey representing a lay group supporting Fr Tony and two representatives of the ACP, Frs John Collins and Tim Hazelwood. Kathleen McDonnell (lay group) could not attend. The meeting was a follow up from a previous meeting held in December 2019 between the lay group and the Redemptorist leadership over the status of Tony. The ACP requested to join the deputation and this was accepted.
Fr Dan gave an update from the previous meeting stating concerns raised over, the lack of progress, was passed on to the Superior General Michael Brehl and he agreed to dialogue with The Congregation of Doctrine and Faith. Dan was awaiting an update.
A long discussion then took place where all parties voiced their dissatisfaction over the way the case had and continues to be handled especially the lack of any due process. It was also noted that this intolerable injustice must be having a detrimental effect on Tony and the sooner this was resolved the better. In the light of the change of atmosphere under the leadership of Pope Francis it was felt that Tony should be returned to ministry and this injustice to be righted. A detailed account of previous attempts was given, where Tony engaged with the process and provided what was requested only for the ‘goal posts’ to move again each time. Fr Dan made it clear that Tony was a member held in good standing within the Redemptorist Congregation only that a sanction was placed on him by the Order at the request of the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith. It was their wish that this sanction should be lifted.
Both the lay group and the ACP agreed on this and all vowed to work together for this to happen. It was agreed that a timescale should be put on this to happen and an agreed plan of possible actions were agreed. The group agreed to meet again after Easter after updating their organisations and the lay working group.
1. Tony is a member held in good standing within the Redemptorist Order
2. The Redemptorist Order placed a sanction on Tony at the request of the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith.
3. It is the wish of the Redemptorist Order that this sanction should be lifted.
As it was the Redemptorist order that placed the sanction on Tony, surely they can remove that sanction if they so wish? The Redemptorist Order could notify the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith that their request originally granted has now been reversed, due to the changed circumstances brought about by Pope Francis in our church.
I am so pleased that this process is ongoing and, finally, efforts are being made to right the terrible injustice that Tony has suffered.
When Sr Joan Chittister was invited to speak at the Women’s Ordination Conference in Dublin in 2001, she was “”asked” by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith not to accept.
As I remember it, like a good Benedictine, she took time to pray and discern. Then she informed them that, having done so, her decision was that she should accept. And she came.
The comment by Colm Holmes hits the nail on the head.
I agree wholeheartedly with Colm Holmes above. The moral cowardice of the Redemptorist Community’s acquiescence to the bullying of the CDF is shameful. Michael Brehl should know only too well that the CDF does not dialogue. The only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them. It is long past time for the Redemptorists to take a stand against this appalling injustice.
Just to clarify that it was not the Irish Congregation of the Redemtorists who imposed the sanction on Tony and it is they who wish to have Tony returned to ministry. I must commend the Irish leadership for engaging with the ACP and the lay group. I doubt if any other diocesan or religious order would have, past experiences would suggest that we would have been fobbed off . It became clear at the meeting that they have been working hard to find a resolution and they welcomed us now getting involved. My hope is that by all of us working together and by applying pressure progress can be made.
I agree with Colm and Jim. Its shocking and appalling that this unjust treatment of Tony has gone on for so long.
Once the church gets down a medieval rabbit-hole it can never climb out again.
The CDF use Religious Congregations to impose sanctions on “rebel” members. It looks as if the CDF are holding the whip and the Orders go along with them meekly. Colm Holmes (1) is correct. Tony is what we might call collateral damage. We are dealing with a monstrous injustice and Francis or no Francis there seems no end in sight.
Well whatever it takes to keep the pressure up, it must be continued.. Tony is not getting any younger ( like the rest of us), and it will be a great sadness and wrongdoing if that ridiculous sanction is not removed, and Tony is allowed back into ministry, before the Lord calls him.. do we have to wait for another book after his demise.. like the late Seán Fagan?