Provincial Leadership Team of the Irish Redemptorists issue statement

Sunday 20th January 2013
The Irish Redemptorist Community is deeply saddened by the breakdown in communication between Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss.R. and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
Fr. Tony Flannery is highly regarded and respected by many in Ireland, both within and outside of the Redemptorist Congregation. He has been an effective parish missioner all over the country since the mid 1970s and from this context has raised matters which he believes need greater dialogue, debate and consideration. Within the Dublin Province of the Redemptorists there exists a very lively spirit of debate and dialogue; we are and over many years have been, committed to mature discourse. Although not all Redemptorists would accept Fr. Flannery’s views on all matters, we do understand and support his efforts to listen carefully to and at times to articulate the views of people he encounters in the course of his ministry.
As Irish Redemptorists we appreciate the difficulties this situation has created for others, especially for our Superior General in Rome, Fr. Michael Brehl. He has made every possible effort to resolve the matters which have emerged between the CDF and Fr. Flannery.
Our Redemptorist Constitutions require us to be obedient to God’s call to us as religious in the Church. Following our founder, St. Alphonsus, for whom thinking with the Church was a important criterion of missionary service, a further key element of our Church mandate is to listen and stay close to God’s people; to engage in missionary dialogue with the world while endeavouring to understand people’s anxious questionings; to try to discover in these how God is truly being revealed.
It is of immense regret that some structures or processes of dialogue have not yet been found in the Church which have a greater capacity to engage with challenging voices from among God’s people, while respecting the key responsibility and central role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
We sincerely hope and pray that even at this late stage, some agreed resolution can be found to this matter.

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  1. Fiona Duffy says:

    I think the new nuncio is behind all this. Remember until last year he was a senior man in the CDF/Inquisition. It was with his arrival in Ireland last year that all of this really got going. He may be all American charm and smiles in public, but don’t be fooled: he means business.

  2. Surely one solution would be for the Redemptorist Order in Ireland to publicaly re-instate Tony Flannery, whatever difficulties that might cause with Rome. He has had the courage to be honest with himself and the people he has served. Now it is time for his Order to be honest to him and with the Vatican.

  3. I am not saddened by how Fr Tony Flannery has been treated – I am outraged. The injustice, the lack of due process, the lack of respect for his integrity, the attempt to close down theological exploration and the insulting way the CDF has refused to deal directly with Fr Flannery (and with all the others whose thinking they have tried to obliterate) – it is beyond sufferance. It is salutary to remember that the vow of obedience taken by all in Religious Orders is primarily to God and I urge the Leadership of the Redemptorist Order to continue to support their brother Tony in every way and not allow him to be caste out.

  4. Patrick Rogers says:

    People who are interested in this case should perhaps write to the apostolic nuncio to express their response and get him thinking about this case. It seems a bad time to make such a controversial public censure of a well respected person.

  5. Ursula Foran says:

    In today’s gospel reading Mark 1:18-22 Jesus tells us that in the new reality which he was bringing new patches cannot be put on old cloth or new wine cannot be put into old wineskins. Fr. Flannery is bringing Jesus’ message into the new reality of a modern world. Welcome his words of wisdom and his leadership. Ursula

  6. Joe O'Leary says:

    I am “deeply saddened” that we have had to send people to concentration camps. Come on, Redemptorists, you can do better than that.

  7. Peter Byrne says:

    “Our Redemptorist Constitutions require us to be obedient to God’s call to
    us as religious in the Church. Following our founder, St. Alphonsus, for whom
    thinking with the Church was an important criterion of missionary service’
    I wonder what Saint Alphonsus would think.
    I find it difficult to have much sympathy for Fr. Flannery. Why is it so hard to understand that the Church is simply asking him to retract statements and views that a Catholic priest should not have made. In his position as a Priest of the “Roman” Catholic Church (It isn’t called that for no reason) he is not allowed to simply preach his personal views…nor should he. He is required to preach the Gospel of Christ and adhere to Church teaching. If he cannot do this…simply leave. The idea that he is on a moral crusade and under attack is false…the Church is simply asking him to look at his views as the views of a Catholic Priest.

  8. I don’t know if I understand you correctly, but when you say, “Our Redemptorist Constitutions” that means you are a Redemptorist priest? I grew up in the St. Alphonsus Parish, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I knew and know a number of Redemptorist Priests.
    Since I am about to turn 55, I was in elementary school, when Vatican II occurred. It was our Redemptorist priests who came to St. Alphonsus School and began a new age in song…………They would come to the school, guitars and voice in hand and we sang songs from Simon and Garfunkel. I thought, wow, these priests are terrific! Throughout, my life, I knew many a Redemptorist Father and you know, I thought they knew me. However, more often than not, I was patronized, dismissed, and I suppose even betrayed. With the exception of one who is heaven now, and another who’s in his nineties. I was asked about 25 years ago, to give a reflection at a workshop on the “Liturgy of the Hours”. We processed in the Church for this, and I led the service and I delivered a reflection from the altar. Sitting in the congregation, was this Redemptorist priest. He said, to me after, “You didn’t write that did you?” I said, “Yes, I wrote that”…He said, “Wow”. Later that evening, when my sister had been at choir practice” and they retired to the rectory for coffee,
    the same priest came out to her and said, “Marlene, I saw the future church today.” “I heard your sister give a homily”. We as a People of God, who are lovingly and gracefully given life by that same God, cannot afford to close our eyes to what God can create. If we do, we cannot possibly say, that we are in a living relationship with a living God. When we come to a place where we see and see, but don’t perceive, and when we hear and hear but don’t understand, we are the ones in rebellion, not the ones, who are open and moving with the spirit of Christ within.

  9. I think Fr Flannery should be obedient to what Christ teaches his disrespect for Jesus and His Word is sad to. Say the least, Gods Word or His Laws are non -negosiable Jesus said He who denies Me -shall be denied by Me before My Heavenly Father “. He also said “No one can come to the Father except through Me”.. This is not my word Fr it’s Gods Word, also you know that Christ said” That His Word cannot be changed and that we cannot add or take away from it, I think Fr that you should do the honourable thing and resign from the priesthood or otherwise obey the Church. – God bless you and may The Holy Spirit guide and direct you to the Truth, and may the Truth set you free- along with all the other priests you are misleading, —– Sorry I have to look at our priests been so rebellious and disobedient to God and His Church it really saddens me, but Scripture says “In the end times many false profits will come, and lead others astray”. But we should not listen to them, Gods Word is Light and Life He is The Way, The Truth and The Life, please try to follow Jesus and His Word – we need good priests and I know Fr you have followed Jesus most of your life and been obedient to Him, it is sad that when our Church is under such spiritual attack that you should lead others into rebellion and attack, May God bless and heal you,

  10. I was truly saddened by the tone and content of the post submitted by Fr Pete Byrne at @7 above. Fr Byrne is of course quite entitled to criticise Fr Tony for the stand he has taken on so many sensitive issues, but to request Fr Tony to leave the priesthood after almost 40 years of ministry, is I am sure music to the ears of the CDF, and typical of the thinking of fundamentalists within our Church.
    Fr Peter, you have forgotten more about theology than I will ever learn, but as I understand it Fr Tony has never questioned the core values of our faith, such as the Mass, Sacraments, and the Commandments of God. He has commented on issues such as Women Priests, Homosexuality, Priests celibacy, to name but a few. He has done this because he is a man of the people and he hears the views of the people, and acts accordingly. Yes he, the ACP, and I am sure many others, are the true Priests of Christ church on earth. It would be very easy for them to say their mass, and live out their priestly life in the comfort of their monasteries, but they can see that our Church is imploding and they have sided with the faithful who love the Church and insist that the model of church must change.
    If Fr Tony’s so called disobedience had happened a few hundred years ago, then he would have been burned at the stake as a heretic. And from the comments of some on this website, they would have gladly lit the pyre. We also had up to a few years ago the despicable and insulting spectacle of a mother kneeling at the feet of a priest, to be cleansed of her sins, after giving birth (Jesus weeps). And let us not forget Limbo, and the psychological damage it did to parents, particularly mothers. All of these beliefs and customs were put in place by the institutional church. If they were right in times past, why are they not right today? Likewise the issues Fr Tony and the ACP have and continue to highlight need serious examination, and change must be made consistent with Christ’s compassion for his people.
    Cardinal Martini on his deathbed was saddened by the state of the church, and obviously believed he should have done more to make it more relevant in people’s lives. Fr Tony, the ACP and their followers are trying to make our church more relevant to our people’s lives, but to achieve that objective; dialogue with the institutional church must take place. You priests and people who are following Man Made rules from Rome are destroying our church. We have many seminaries which are closed down. The men going for priesthood are few and far between. Clusters are in place in much of rural Ireland, and are successful, but for how long? With the exception of Christmas and the Novenas, many of them conducted by Fr Tony and his fellow priests, our churches are near empty. In a short few years our religion will not be taught in many of our schools. Time is not on our side.
    Please, please all who follow the MAN MADE rules from Rome think again. The future of our church on this Island is at stake.

  11. I have just read ‘Question of Conscience’ by Fr. Tony Flannery I was so upset to read about the way he has been treated by the CDF and I feel a lack of support from the Irish Redemptorists.
    I feel he has been targeted because of being a member of the ACP. I feel his responses to the the CDF were okay and satisfactory.
    This is a priest who has served the Church from the age of 17 years old. Will he now be compensated for all those years that now seem to be so unimportant to the Church? Secrecy has caused so many problems in our Church.

  12. Upon reading today’s Irish Times 22nd January ’14 I am dismayed to read that the Vatican has no plans to allow Fr. Flannery to practice as a priest again.
    However, just above this article Cardinal Sean Brady hails the opening of an Irish embassy to the Holy See as a triumph for dialogue. I am happy about this but but about the open dialogue for Fr. Flannery.
    I feel very depressed about Fr. Flannerys situation and I pray that he will find his new purpose in life.

  13. Vincent Gormley says:

    Galileo Galilei was treated miserably by the Roman Theologians who have always had a direct route to God. It only took four hundred years for the Church to apologise for that disgusting put down of a fine man who had more brains and creativity than a host of theological ‘experts’. His crime was to discover truths about the solar system that did not fit in with the narrow interpretations of their creation story. As we speak in 2023, an agenda for discussing many topics including the role of women, ordination of women, optional celibacy for priests and a welcome for members of the LGBTQ family…etc is put before an Episcopal committees in Rome. I wonder how the heroic priest, Fr Tony Flannery, feels when he reads that news after his silencing over a decade ago for holding such opinions. Maybe in a few hundred years…..???

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