Tony Flannery is threatened with excommunication

Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery is threatened with excommunication from the Catholic Church for suggesting that, in the future, women might become priests and calling for this and other matters to be open for discussion. Fr. Flannery, (66) who joined the Redemptorists in 1964 at seventeen and was ordained ten years later, has been told that if he is to remain in the Church and in his Congregation, he must also guarantee not to attend meetings of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) until he has publicly agreed to the conditions laid down.
Fr. Flannery was forbidden to minister as a priest for most of the past year, and this will continue until he meets the requirements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“I have been ordered not to engage with the media or publish any books or articles,”
he told a press briefing in Dublin today. “I have also been ordered not to have any involvement, public or private, with the ACP. I was put under a formal precept of obedience not to attend the AGM of the ACP last November by Michael Brehl, Superior General of the Redemptorists. But he made it clear he’d been instructed by the CDF to issue it.”
Fr Flannery will be allowed back into ministry only if he writes, signs and publishes an article (pre-approved by the CDF) accepting the Catholic Church can never ordain women to the priesthood and accepting all Church stances on contraception, homosexuality, and the refusal of the sacraments to people in second relationships.
“I could not possibly put my name to such an article without impugning my own integrity and conscience,” he said today. “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is orchestrating all this while refusing to communicate with me. I have had no direct communication with them. I have never been given an opportunity to meet my accusers, or to understand why this action is being taken against me when I’ve raised the same issues, consistently, for decades.”
The documentation Fr Flannery received, apparently from the CDF took the form of a typed A4 page (not a letterhead) which was unsigned.
“The only reason that I can be sure that this came from the CDF is that Michael Brehl, the head of the Redemptorists, told me it did,” he said. “All requests for direct communication with the CDF have been ignored.””
Fr. Flannery described as “frightening, disproportionate and reminiscent of the Inquisition” the actions against him.
“I have served the Church, the Redemptorists and the People of God for two thirds of my life,” he pointed out. “Throughout that time, I have in good conscience raised issues I believed important for the future of the Church in books and essays largely read by practicing Catholics, rather than raising them in mainstream media. I’m hardly a major and subversive figure within the Church deserving excommunication and expulsion from the religious community within which I have lived since my teens.”
The choice facing him, he stated at a press briefing today, Sunday 20th January, was between deciding between Rome and his conscience.
“I must also question if the threats are a means, not just of terrifying me into submission, but of sending a message to any other priest expressing views at variance with those of the Roman Curia,” he added. “Submitting to these threats would be a betrayal of my ministry, my fellow priests and the Catholic people who want change.”
Fr. Flannery said that because he believes he is being subjected to unfair treatment, he has taken legal advice under Canon and Civil law to help him defend his rights as a member of the Church and as an Irish citizen.
Further information from: Aileen Gaskin
087 7724717

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  1. Anne McElheron says:

    I want to express my admiration for Fr Flannery’s courage and honesty. There are lots of us, committed Catholics, who are horrified by Rome’s bullying tactics and fully support Fr Flannery’s stand.

  2. John Gillen says:

    It was with great sadness, but no surprise, that I read Tony Flannery’s statement. It has all the hallmarks of the days of the inquisition. I pray that God will give Tony courage and strength at this time. Hopefully, his Redemptorist community will stand by and support him and will not accede to any request from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he be expelled from the community.

  3. I am appalled at what the Church that we all love is doing to himself!! Where is the feminine element in the Church? Suppressed is she? They say all empires destroy themselves from within. Has the Church taken a leaf out of the empires book?
    ‘Holy’ means ‘whole’ how can we say the Church is Holy when the feminine is neglected. Questioning is healthy when it is done with love and a discerning heart. Fellow Catholics we need to pray that Church Leadership wiill have love not fear and a discerning heart.

  4. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    This is the problem with being the “seekers” and not just the “messengers” – the whole idea of insubordination. I can only look at this through a “civilian” eye but I completely understand where they are coming from. Accept it. If anything, it will further incite the call to reform we seek. Hans Kung understands where this fight takes place; from the bottom up. We want reforms but not at the expense of anyone’s good standing. This is a theological battle and not one that is going to be won by priests acting out of their good consciences – you are to far within the strongholds to be effective. As our messengers, you can call for a world wide vote, as you have already polled on your own. The test demographic has been queried. A huge percentage of your own parishoners have already spoken. This might be fine time to use this reprimand as leverage for a larger vote. Allow them to decide whether you are acting out of your own wanton desires or are you simply a vessel representing the needs of all of Christendom. This is what we are calling for.

  5. Mary O Vallely says:

    “I could not possibly put my name to such an article without impugning my own integrity and conscience,” he said today.
    We would expect nothing less of Fr Tony Flannery and I hope and pray that he gets all possible support needed to help him defend his rights,not just as a member of the Church and an Irish citizen but as a human being.
    My God, have they no compassion or understanding or any grain of kindness these men in the CDF? It sounds so sinister and reminiscent of former days of fascism and totalitarianism.
    The worst of it is that so many priests probably agree with Tony but there is a climate of fear and fear does terrible things to a human being. It can take away integrity and courage and empathy and kindness and we must all stand behind people of courage or else not call ourselves followers of Christ.
    To think of that tremendous force for good that a united Irish Church could be if there was an open, honest and charitable sharing of views allowed. Couldn’t you weep if it wasn’t such a waste of energy. Let us get behind Fr Tony and show him that we love and respect his stance. Come, Holy Spirit.

  6. Oh dear. Surely not another priest being silenced. Is the CDF so fearful for the future of the Church that it is unable to respond other than by silencing the “dissident” and worse, by disowning him totally? As a resident of the UK, I have watched with sadness, the fate of the Church in Ireland and am even sadder that men of conscience, (Sean Fagan and Brian D’Arcy in particular come to mind), should be placed in such invidious situations by a bunch of careerists in the Vatican. I assure Tony Flannery of my humble support and prayers and will add him to the ever growing list of people who, by following their conscience, are enduring real hardship.

  7. John Kelly says:

    I fear Fr. Flannery is whistling into the wind! More priests need to get on board to confront the CDF.

  8. “The choice facing him, he stated at a press briefing today, Sunday 20th January, was between deciding between Rome and his conscience.”
    Jesus said, “render unto Caesar…..” and that’s all you should give.
    If you are made to choose like this and choose your conscience, and they punish you for that – I’ll be going in the same direction. God forgive those people. Who do they imagine they are.
    This is abuse. This is exactly what they did with victims/survivors of abuse. We were a ‘scandal’ and to be silenced at any cost – never to speak, or speak of it again for fear of damaging some thing not worth anything in the first place. Threats and more abuses. I see absolutely no difference in the way you are all being treated and it’s not the first time I’ve tried to say this.
    It is like the Inquisition. It is tyrannical. It is brutish. Bullies who’d not dare challenge face to face someone able for them. It’s cowardly. It’s dishonest. It’s wholly un-Christian and it is ABUSE.
    Sing like a canary Tony and keep singing. Those with ears can and do hear you !!

  9. Joe O'Leary says:

    The CDF is the Inquisition and the Church has never disowned the Inquisition.
    Too many have accepted these procedures which are incompatible with the Gospel and with the Church’s own teaching, not to speak of natural decency.
    Fr Tony is doing what many others ought to have done.

  10. Soline Humbert says:

    Submitting to these threats would be a surrender to abusive power and a betrayal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Time to stand firm and to stand together in solidarity, rooted in God’s love.

  11. An unsigned A4 piece of paper for a lifetime of service. Says it all.
    An Irish civil servant who issued such an unsigned letter would run the risk of dismissal. Not only must such letters be signed but the signatory must be clearly identifiable.
    The implied threat to the ACP itself is interesting, to say the least.

  12. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    This latest action on the part of the Vatican against enlightened thinkers who have broken out of the Middle Ages mentality in theology reeks of undeveloped and retrograde reasoning. Fr. Tony Flannery has been one of the shining lights and progressive hopes of the modern church. It’s as if this current Vatican is attempting to bulldoze the RCC back into the days of ‘leave your brains at the door if you want to be a member of this church’ mentality so prevalent before the Second Vatican Council.
    It appears that this Vatican has a death wish for the RCC in its attempt to stamp out the creative fire of the Holy Spirit invigorating this stumbling church. It is men like Fr. Tony Flannery who are fighting so hard against overwhelming odds to reinvigorate and revive this terminal patient. I think it is way past time for the members of this church to rise up and overthrow those in Rome who would have us all go back to primitive, crude, and the unrefined underdeveloped theology of the past ages.

  13. It looks like a replay of the George Tyrrell travesty in the early 1900s. The only difference is, this time around, the Irish bishops are in no position to carry the water for the pope and his curia and are letting the Vatican pretty much handle this alone.

  14. Tom Morgan says:

    In 2010 the Vatican silenced Owen O’Sullivan for his Christian views on homosexuality.
    (See The Furrow Vol 61 No 3 March 2010 “On Including Gays”).
    Then they silenced Tony Flannery and Gerard Moloney of Reality for their Christian
    discernment on issues of contraception, celibacy and the ordination of women. Further,
    the Vatican also purported to withdraw Tony Flannery’s freedom to associate as guaranteed to
    him by the Irish Constitution and insisted that he withdraw from ACP.
    It seems to me that our prophets are being silenced in a vain effort to return Ireland to the Roman Catholic infantilism of the 20th Century- the era of moral tyranny, sentimental
    devotionalism, spiritual corruption and the false orthodoxy of humanity and human sexuality.
    The only real renewal has begun for some years now in the words of these prophets and
    in the arts that flourish outside the confines of clericalism.
    To those who have falsely stolen the iconography of the Wounded Healer and wear
    His mask with shame- the answer is now upon them.
    We can allow ourselves to grow up. We are each responsible for working out our own
    salvation. As Rowan Williams said in his great work on Dostoevsky- “The Devil’s desire
    is to spare us the complications of contingency by securing for us a protracted
    Viva la Transformation.
    Best wishes to a courageous Fr Tony
    May we all fight this terror
    together in spirit

  15. Sean O'Driscoll says:

    So sad to hear Rome has to resort to threats and bullying. Tony, you have my full support in this time of trial. What is Rome afraid of? If they have a genuine counter argument, then let’s hear it. Let’s have honest dialogue and openness. Imposing silence will not make prophetic voices go away. The CDF is acting shamefully, and certainly not in a Christian way.

  16. Ciara Clancy says:

    Fr. Flannery, I offer you my support and praise as you face what can only be called bullying from the CDF and its ultimate boss Josef Ratzinger, who will not even allow debate on the issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood. We are the Church and we the Church want and need to debate the issue of married priests, of women priests, of contraception and of the dissolution of power within the the Roman Catholic Church. To effectively ban even discourse on these issues is a sign of the fear the Papacy and the Hierarchy have of what they may hear. We are the Roman Catholic Church and I am sure that very many people in Ireland offer you their full support.

  17. Eleanor Dixon says:

    Dear Fr Flannery
    You are such an inspiration to those of us Catholics appalled by the evil that has been perpetrated and tolerated within the Catholic Church in recent decades. To see a leader who follows his conscience and is open to theological debate gives me great hope that there is something worth keeping in this religion. Thank you for your strength and leadership. I will pray for you in these difficult times.
    Best wishes

  18. Teresa Mee says:

    “I am the Way, the Life and the Truth”.
    How does the Church leadership identify with the Way, the Life and the Truth? Hardly through sending out unmanned missives.
    The people of God deserve an explanation.

  19. Mike Riordan says:

    Have to say I am appalled at the way ‘our’ Church is treating Tony Flannery, not sure what I can say or do about it, except express my support for Tony Flannery and my abhorrence at the way he is being treated by the CDF. I think it’s fair to say that their approach and way of handling this situation would not be what most Catholics would wish for from their Church.

  20. I take exception with only one item here, that Fr Flannery asserts his current experience is “reminiscent of the Inquisition”. No, Father, let’s use our words for clarity: This is the work of the Inquisition. It’s just that the Vatican has changed the name (twice – 1904, 1965), but never the function. That function has been to fossilize Christian thought.
    As I said last June in relation to the Inquisition’s attacks on American religious orders, it is a powerful witness of the church to sponsor education and the intellectual activities that accompany that process. Its future depends not on freezing thought but in reshaping (reforming?) itself based on that thought.
    My prayer for Fr Flannery is that the Holy Spirit continues to bless his work, that ways are found to share that with the faithful (including those of us who are part of “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church” but not Roman Catholic), and that his order continues to provide for his physical needs as Christ would expect them to.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    “…accepting the Catholic Church can never ordain women to the priesthood and accepting all Church stances on contraception, homosexuality, and the refusal of the sacraments to people in second relationships.”
    This is akin to thought control. Even the infallible Pope can change his mind.
    Catholic teaching has changed over the years and even God had a great change by sending his son to be sacrificed and in doing so he cast out the old vengeful God and introduced the Loving God we know today. Nothing can be stagnant, not even God.
    The Vatican has a seeming hatred of women that must change because people aren’t going to fall(?) for it any longer.
    Well done to Fr Flannery and all who challenge his employers, he has the support of the majority of Catholics in Ireland.

  22. Tom Morally says:

    It is with shame and hurt I have learned that my church has engaged in such shameful tactics to one who has given a lifetime of service to people the length and breath of this country.
    To hear them threaten ‘excommunication’ on anyone on the basis of asking for dialogue is nothing short of shameful. Christ has been betrayed by those in authority who choose to use and abuse their power in this way.
    I was at the pro life rally yesterday and came away with a good feeling about my church.
    Today that feeling is replaced by one of anger and shame.

  23. It would appear that most of what may be said in response to the actions of the CDF towards Father Flannery has been commented. I am deeply saddened again, that we have a church leadership that knows no other way of communicating with the faithful. I’m looking to provide some words of wisdom, in the face, of the obvious persecution of the Church, by a faction of the “institutional church”. What does the integrity of Christ call for? Exactly, what Father Flannery did. It’s a cup that he and all of us, who would challenge the CDF must drink. Father Flannery has laid down his life, sown in tears, so that, with faith, hope, and love, one day, we will have such change as the total inclusion of women.

  24. Is there anything in this church where the People of God are in agreement with the hierarchy of Rome? The Second Vatican Council taught that the Sprit of God works upward to the hierarchy from the People. It follows from that teaching that when the hierarchy is out of step with the People, that the hierarchy needs to get in line with the Spirit. Of what use is hierarchy that is NOT in union with the Sprit of God and the People of God. A church cannot survive when it is not acting in the Spirit of God. It is time for the hierarchy to repent and follow the Spirit. God save the Catholic Church from the hierarchy, we pray!

  25. Fr. Tony, when you do seek legal advice, rememember the words of St. Thomas Aquinas. He trumps all Canon Law – it is his voice you hear when you think you are acting out of your own conscience. Everything within Canon Law, if not in accordance with Natural Law, can not become the rule of law – it is merely a tradition.
    “All people, believers and non believers, are called to recognize the needs of human nature expressed in Natural Law and guided by Positive Law issued by Civil and Political Authorities to regulate human coexistence. When the Natural Law and the responsibilities it entails are denied, it dramatically opens the way for ethical relativism at the individual level and for totalitarianism at the political and state level.”
    My thoughts and prayers have and always will be with you.

  26. Martin Murray says:

    “The documentation Fr Flannery received, apparently from the CDF took the form of a typed A4 page (not a letterhead) which was unsigned. “The only reason that I can be sure that this came from the CDF is that Michael Brehl, the head of the Redemptorists, told me it did,” he said. All requests for direct communication with the CDF have been ignored.”
    To issue this ridiculous threat is shameful enough in itself, but the manner in which it did so is also very revealing. I was going to say that it is unbelievable that the CDF considers this is good enough. But really its no longer a surprise. Two words spring immediately to mind – arrogance and cowardice. But that’s clericalism for you. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if the head of the Redemptorists had been able to say “Tell him yourself”. Its understandable why he didn’t, but It’s time for all of us to stop facilitating clericalism and begin to recognise it for the evil that it is. Fr Tony Flannery is on the receiving end of a curial civil service that is ultimately acting and serving on behalf of the people in the pews. But it is as remote and self-serving in its nature now, as at any time in its history. Its time for something better.

  27. Aideen McGarrigle says:

    My full support to you Tony – – – I have lost all hope of my Church ‘ s hierarchy coming along with us THE CHURCH into the 21st Century so sad that a bunch of older men are cocooned in their palaces in Rome and so far removed from the main body of the Church – – – and it cannot be denied that there are a lot of mysogonists among them – – –
    We need another Pope John 23rd! and another Vatican 2 !

  28. John Donnelly says:

    I think a lot of Catholics need to see the issues at stake here. Fr Flannery has spoken out but some of the issues on which he speaks are against Christ Himself. For starters he doesn’t seem to see that homosexual activity is sinful in itself. It’s as sinful as adultery, fornication, theft , bearing false witness (lying), dishonouring parents etc etc . He may also be on thin ice on the ordination issue. Christ went to the cross despising the shame. Christ was no chicken and if He’d wanted have women apostles He would no doubt have named them. Of course that’s not to say that women were not leaders of household churches in the Acts of the apostles but the matter is up to each denomination. Under the rules if you can’t accept them then kindly leave. The Association of Catholic priests needs to make sure that it does not condone sinful behaviour. It’s this blurring of the issues that causes confusion. In my view we do need debate on certain issues like refusing sacraments to certain individuals, priestly celibacy etc but there are also certain issues not up for grabs. And all Catholics on here should know them: Jesus’ existence , Jesus’ atonement, Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus’ teaching on sexual behaviour – the list goes on and on. Some people in here pray the Holy Spirit but they pray in error . The Holy Spirit convicts men of their unrighteousness and helps them to achieve joy. He cannot and will not condone wrongful behaviour. Get the issues straight. Once that is solved then we can begin to debate properly. Tony has gone about this in the wrong way by being far too liberal. That is what ultimately shot him down. I do believe he is a compassionate loving man but when wrong is condoned then the Vatican has no other choice but to step in. Let’s hope that he reflects on the issues and retracts the stance on homosexual behaviour in particular.

  29. Willie Collins says:

    Many words of support for Fr. Flannery are important at this time. Then having satisfied our conscience we slide back into our comfort zone and tip our cap to the establishment. What are You prepared to do? Hand wringing is hardly the answer.
    There are many priests who are facing this treatment without the support of a Community or the media.
    Trumpted up charges that cannot be defended as the accusers are faceless.
    It is time to ask your Bishop how he stands on these matters.
    Action speaks louder etc.

  30. Jo O'Sullivan says:

    I am one of the many, many people who want to offer Tony Flannery my heartfelt support and admiration. I am disgusted and heart-sickened that an institution I was once proud to belong to should treat its loyal servants in such an abominable way.
    There are many of us who will support Tony Flannery because we echo his views on the need for open dialogue around issues like the place of women, homosexuals and people in second or subsequent relationships within the Catholic Church.
    That will come as no surprise to the “powers that be”!
    But I want to ask, in all sincerity, that those of you who do NOT share Tony Flannery’s views but who are troubled by the WAY the Vatican treats those people of conscience who speak out, should add your voices to those who are protesting here against his treatment.
    I am ashamed to be part of an institution where those who think differently from the ‘party line’ find that they are ejected without even being given a chance to defend themselves. Surely it is a basic human right – it is fundamental to respecting one’s dignity – that a person has the opportunity to face his accusers and to explain why he has come to hold the beliefs he holds?
    Many differing beliefs are expressed on this forum, but I’m sure every one of us values the fact that we have the freedom to express those beliefs here. I have respect for the differing views and I know those who express them to have integrity and to be people of conscience. I understand that some truly believe that Tony Flannery has departed from Catholic teaching and should not speak/publish those views as a Catholic priest. But can you, in all honesty, agree that he should be cast out in this way, without mercy or compassion?
    The fight for social justice is something the Catholic Church prides itself on – standing in solidarity with people who have been denied such justice is something our missionaries do daily and something we can all love our church for.
    So can you honestly feel comfortable with the WAY Tony Flannery and many others before him have been, and continue to be, treated by the CDF?
    Can you let your voice be heard on this issue?

  31. Wendy Murphy says:

    Of all the burgeoning, depressing pieces of news concerning the RCC, this is one of the most dispiriting because, even though I’m just an occasional visitor to this site, it feels like an abusive attack on a true friend. I can only add my voice to the many others, dear Tony, who support you here and hope that you can bear all this with resilience and the love of those around you.

  32. I try, and fail, to imagine Jesus sitting in Rome and issuing the types of orders which have been coming from the Vatican. When studying the Gospels, did we find that He spied on His disciples whenever they went out to preach, or bullied or threatened them whenever they questioned his teachings? Did He illustrate that his mother and other women were an essential part of his life from His birth to His death, or did He ban them from participating from His life and ministry? Is the Vatican aware of this? And is it aware that the only dire threats He made was to anyone who hurt or scandalised a child?
    Many of us have become disillusioned with the actions of the Church. How can we continue to call ourselves Catholic when the church we say we support does not seem to follow the life and teachings of Christ?
    My heart goes out to Fr Flannery and to the others who are being similarly persecuted.

  33. 26 years ago they came for me and nobody did anything.
    Today they have come for Father Tony.
    Tomorrow they will come for you
    Pat Buckley. Larne. Co. Antrim

  34. Rita Mulvihill says:

    Father Flannery, from attending your retreats many years ago you taught me to have proper faith in God. You taught me not to fear God and you gave me strength in the face of adversity. I spent a large period of my life on auto-pilot, being born a Catholic and accepting the doctrine without question. At this place in my life I have learnt to pray to God wherever and whenever the impulse comes to me, it does not have to be in the confines of a church. I have learnt more about myself as a person and hopefully I am now a better Christian thanks to your guidance. This I never would have acquired from the teachings of the Vatican alone. I am sure this is the very reason they are trying to outcast you. You are a true Christian and I wish you the health and strength to strive in your endeavours and to succeed in your beliefs.

  35. Bob Hayes says:

    I entirely endorse Noel Healy’s (23) observations. To take his analogy further, what would be the reaction of – particularly – Irish people if we heard that a serving officer of the Defence Forces was writing, publishing and speaking about his radical, personal vision of Ireland’s military role in the world? Let us suppose ‘Lieutenant Flannery’ was proposing that Ireland end her neutrality, introduce conscription and join the NATO military pact alongside Britain. The lieutenant – who has taken an oath of loyalty to the State and obedience to his superiors – is told to desist, but continues to pursue his own agenda. Would we be surprised to find him summoned to a court martial? Of course not. Why then should we be surprised when a priest who no longer feels bound by his oath is called to account?
    Tony Flannery’s activities are providing rich fuel for those pursuing a secularising and anti-Christian agenda. You may find this and other similar sites full of warm, mutual support, but take a look at the comments appearing in the mainstream media discussions. Through Sunday’s press conference Tony Flannery has opened-up an opportunity for a frenzy of anti-Catholic and anti-Christian bile.
    I pray that Tony Flannery comes to see that his dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church is a Cross that he should bear with humility and stoicism. If he persists with his road show the losers will be Irish souls.

  36. Dr Margaret Kennedy says:

    The Vatican believes that bully-boy tactics are of Christ! This makes a mockery of Jesus mission of love. The fact priests throughout this country, throughout this world are STILL ‘in’ and silent but actually would follow Flannery in all his thinking and beliefs is scary in the extreme. We no longer have ‘fowwers of christ’ we have ‘followers of Rome’ and this is not the same thing at all. Until each and every priest , ordained to emulate and follow CHRIST, to serve the poor, sick, hungry, imprisoned, downtrodden, rejected, overlooked and all people’s who cry out for love do just that and tackle the monster that Rome has become, we are not free of the evil of this world. For Rome, the Vatican, has, I believe become ‘evil’. Their mission to destroy good priests who support women and honest sexuality and relationships is evidence of this. Evil is in our midst and it’s high time priests says it as it is and not just ‘take it’. Jesus went into the temple and whipped out those loathsome people who defiled it. it’s time, dear priests, to see your new mission in Christ.

  37. Eleanor Edmond and Tony Ward says:

    We would just like to express our utmost admiration and support for Fr Flannery and those like him. If you were typical of the institutional church, we would be back to it in a flash. thank you for taking a stand at personal expense and being the kind of example that is sorely needed. Best wishes and prayers.

  38. This terrible,what is the Church trying to do? What is wrong with making suggestions? is the Church trying to reduce its flock to non thinking human beings.Thr Church is very quick to preach to regimes around the world about how they should be tolerant and respectful of their people yet they are very happy to show not a shred of tolerance or respect to their own. Why have not, all the child abusers, all those who faciliated then, all those who allowed so much unimaginable suffering of vulnerable young girls and women, all those who for decades worked to cover it up for the good name of the Church, been publicly excommunicated and vilified? Or is that only reserved for those who try to revive the Church of Christ making it once again alive and active.I am thankful and reassured that the ACP have given Fr Tony their full support. I believe he has doen much more than Rome ever has to show us in his writing and retreats the real Jseus. He has as has all ACP members my support and prayers. may God bless and keep them all in His care.

  39. CDF………..Let Them Be Anethma! The words of truth ring out on these web pages! I pray for the support and right action for Father Flannery and I also pray that the ACP and the reform movement in Ireland go with God, and that, never, never, shall “the gates of hell prevail against them.”

  40. Gene Carr says:

    According to the reports in the Irish media, Fr Flannery was being asked to affirm support for the Church’s established positions on such issues as women priests and sexuality issues such as contrception, homosexuality, etc. Yet according to the report in the New York Times the primary issue had to do with an article by Fr Flannery that undermined the origins of the priesthood itself, asserting that it had not been instituted by Christ but was a later invention by a select and privileged group who interpreted the Last Supper to suit their own agenda. In other words the Catholic priethood as we know it was born of a conspiracy of powergrabbers!! If this is the case then the dispute is more fundamental than it seems.
    In respect of the alleged “secrecy” of these proceedings, why is the word “secret” always used in anthing to do with the Catholic Church, when the word ‘confidential’ would be quite normal. Anyone who has held a senior position in any organization will have to institute disciplinary procedings against individuals from time to time. Always in my experience – even in cases of sexual harrassment – the strictest confidentiality is imposed to protect all concerned. Why should it be any different for such proceedings within the Church?

  41. Paddy Clarkin says:

    As a Catholic, though lapsed, I cannot say how much I admire this man. It really is a time we all stood back and looked at what the Church has become, something that the Christ we believe in would have been appalled at, an authoritarian state, run by old men who sit in palaces surrounded by all that glitters and which seeks to sensor anything that questions. Jesus cast out the sellers from the synagogue and worked among the small people. The Church has lost the small people. Priests, if any clergy do, are the ones who walk amongst the Brethern, and understand the human condition.
    They, however, are silenced and bullied and broken.
    I can only say – rise up you all – forget Rome and the Religious politicians – you cannot be excommunicated from God – it is not possible.
    By the way – I am not some revolutionarty or one who is even sure that he believes but I know and our priests know, a great wrong has been done to Father Flannery and others. Fear not as he does and do it anyway.

  42. Patrick T. Darcy says:

    It is undoubtedly wishful thinking to hope that the powers-to-be in the CDF would go back to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read what the church teaches regarding conscience. The CCC states that “Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.” (CCC 1780) Strong words, indeed. If Fr. Flannery were to “recant” his positions, he would be going against not only his conscience but also the church’s teaching on conscience. The church teaches that “a human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself.” (CCC 1790) Ironically, the CDF wants him to violate church doctrine. Perhaps, it should do something useful and investigate itself.
    Fr. Flannery has never questioned any church doctrine. The St. Pius X Society, on the other hand, has refused to accept Vatican II. I find it shameful the way that the CDF has treated Fr. Flannery, especially in contrast with the respectful dialogue it has extended the schismatic St. Pius X Society.
    Fr. Flannery will follow his conscience, and the church will lose another good, intelligent priest whose only desire is to serve the Lord and his people and whose “crime” was that he had the audacity to speak the truth as he saw it. God bless you, Fr. Flannery.

  43. Chris (England) says:

    I am saddened but not surprised by what is happening to Tony Flannery and to others like him who dare to ask questions and question the answers given by increasingly out of touch bureaucrats in Rome. This has been happening to others since the days of John Paul ll but in recent years it has been becoming more common. I hope that people like Tony have the courage to continue to stand by what they believe in. Without such prophets, the Church will indeed become smaller (as some want) and more blinkered with more and more men and women voting with their feet.
    I do not underestimate how difficult it is for priests to speak their minds if they want to remain in active ministry: it is difficult to speak out if one’s livelyhood, home and finacial security is at stake. There are many priests who may have the same questions as Tony but keep quiet in order to survive within the institution: some have given up and simply go through the motions: others have already walked away. I think that if there is to be real change, rather than schism, it will come from groups of lay men and women offering support for those they recognise as committed and genuine leaders and refusing to be passive and silent.

  44. Bob Hayes says:

    Patrick T. Darcy (43) unfortunately quotes selectively from CCC 1790. Firstly, Patrick fails to mention that he is quoting from a subsection titled ‘Erroneous Judgement’. Secondly he quotes only the first two sentences. CCC 1790 continues and concludes with the following sentence, ‘Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgements about acts to be performed or already committed’. CCC 1792 declares that ‘assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching [among other matters] … can be at the source of errors of judgement in moral conduct’.

  45. Joe O'Leary says:

    “Fr Flannery will be allowed back into ministry only if he writes, signs and publishes an article (pre-approved by the CDF) accepting the Catholic Church can never ordain women to the priesthood and accepting all Church stances on contraception, homosexuality, and the refusal of the sacraments to people in second relationships.”
    If the CDF wants diligent scribes I’d be happy to offer my services. But could I make some slight alterations? Could I say the Catholic Church might be able to ordain women and that its stances on contraception and homosexuality need radical revision, and, with Benedict XVI, that the refusal of the sacraments to people in second relationships needs to be reconsidered?

  46. Ann Walsh says:

    It is with a weary heart I have followed the developments re Tony Flannery.
    And while I never supported the idea of silencing him I was open to the reasons why the CDF may need to communicate with him on what they regarded as some of his views on church matters.
    However yesterdays revelations have left me both cold and frightened by my church on two fronts.
    Firstly, asking anyone to sign something and putting them under orders not to tell anyone else about it-is clearly an indication that something that’s happening is not right. If our actions cannot be brought into the light then they are suspect.
    (Indeed it so resembles the mistake poor Cardinal Brady made so many years ago – that I cannot believe this behavior is still happening.)
    Secondly, threatening excommunication on anyone is, I believe, at complete variance with the call of Jesus Christ – his wish that we may all be one.
    It is shameful, even sinful, dare I say abusive, to act in this way and to do so in the name of Jesus Christ.
    Fr Tony has done the church a great service – just as the many abuse victims have done too- in forcing into the light patterns of behavior in our church that need to be exposed.
    I hope he doesn’t have to wait as long as many of them had to before he receives the apology he rightly deserves.

  47. I want to send my complete support to Tony at this terrible time for him. I greatly admire and respect him and, like the overwhelming majority of those who have contributed to this site since we became aware of Tony’s press conference yesterday, I am absolutely appalled and sickened. May God continue to bless you, Tony.

  48. Patrick T. Darcy says:

    Bob Hayes (45) Thank you for your comment. In citing the CCC texts, I was trying to make clear that a person has to follow his conscience. I am fully aware that the Catechism teaches that a person can make decisions based on an erroneous conscience. I cannot judge, however, whether Fr. Flannery has acted with a
    erroneous conscience, and that is why I didn’t cite the texts you quoted.

  49. jim murray says:

    Just goes to prove why diversity in the Church is needed: when like-minded people get together constantly they only become more convinced in extremist views. True of the Taliban and the Vatican. Is there a way that Mass offerings can be directed as only for the parish use? –that would send a message to the local patsy-bishop and the other guy.

  50. Fr Tony you have my unreserved support and prayer.

  51. Peter Short says:

    I simply cannot understand the furore. Or rather, I can understand that people who take a similar positions against Church teaching as Fr. Flannery has done are alarmed that the Church has finally stood up to his perennial anti-Catholic stance. But seriously, how can anybody be surprised? On just a single one of the issues — female ordination — the Church has set out its consistent position multiple times over a period that coincidentally happens to begin very shortly after Fr. Flannery took orders.
    There was a letter from Paul VI in 1975, and a follow-on declaration (Inter Insigniores) from the CDF in 1976. There is the extraordinary apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, of John Paul II in 1988. There is the letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis of 1994 which requires the position on ordination to be definitively held by all the faithful. There are clarifications about the status of this teaching in the CDF’s Responsum ad Dubium of 1995, and more generally in Ad Tuendem Fidem of 1998 which says inter alia that “anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church”.
    What is it that is not clear here? What is it that people who profess to be Catholic are failing to understand? Why is it that after more than thirty years of forbearance, the Vatican is accused of being reactionary and uncompassionate (and other things far less generous)? I understand that it is possible to disagree with the Church. But it is not possible in all conscience to feign ignorance about the Church’s teachings or the reasons for them that it has very clearly set out.
    It is a tragedy that a large portion of the laity have been misled by dissenting priests who think as Fr. Flannery does — the very people whose mission it was to safeguard the deposit of faith. It is ironic that so many vocally assert their right to “think for themselves”. Today the laity have unprecedented access to Church teachings through the medium of the internet. Have they therefore read the magisterial teaching contained in these wonderful documents? Do they realise that Fr. Flannery and his ilk have been grossly disobedient to the consistent teaching and tradition of the Church? It *is* time to think for yourselves and cast off the false liberalism that has set itself against Christ’s Church.
    I’d like to finish by wishing Fr. Flannery well, and pray that he will come to a reconciliation. We all go astray, and none of us is any less in need of healing. May God bless the Church and all her people.

  52. Ned Quinn says:

    At a meeting of the parish council of Darndale (Dublin) last night, there was a unanimous vote of support for Fr. Tony Flannery. All seventeen members present expressed their shock and dismay at the way this much admired priest had been treated by the Vatican. There was agreement that the topics raised by Tony – for which he is now being censured – are issues which SHOULD be addressed by our Church at this critical time. Prayers were offered for Tony.

  53. John Hunwicke says:

    The views attributed to Fr Flannery about the origins of the Ministerial Priesthood run directly contrary to the second paragraph of the Vatican 2 document on the priesthood. No fair person could be surprised that the Vatican operatives whose job it is to maintain the teaching of Vatican 2 want him to adjust his opinions to what the Council actually taught. If his conscience won’t let him do so, why is he so keen to remain in a body, the priesthood, which he believes to be, not the Lord’s creation, but the result of power hungry people “abrogating” [does he mean arrogating?] authority to themselves? Why, indeed, does he want to remain within a body, whose mission is at the moment largely formed by Vatican 2, when he regards the teaching of that Council as such rubbish?

  54. Des Gilroy says:

    So now dialogue and debate is forbidden in our beloved Church which is rapidly becoming a Roman dictatorship.
    How ironic that all of this happens in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, where we as a Church are exhorted to enter into dialogue with the other Christian churches and others who are followers of Christ, to listen to them and respect their positions. So now it seems we can debate issues of faith and morals with those outside the walls but all discussion within is debarred. How hyprocritical! Is it any wonder that so many Christian communities have a grave mistrust of Rome – a mistrust which is now increasingly shared by so many Catholics.
    Now we find that Tony Flannery is not only not allowed to discuss the ordination of women – he may not now even believe in it and must now publicly vow to this under threat of excommunication.
    Remarkably, unable to find any rational or doctrinal reason for rejecting womens ordination, the Vatican has fallen back on the very lame “Jesus did not call any woman to be an apostle”. How valid is this excuse? Well, Jesus only called Jewish men to be his apostles. He only called the circumcised. He only called white men. He did not call any gentiles. Nor did he call any Germans. If the Vatican line has any validity, then we even have a Pope who, if we were to accept Vatican rationale, should not have been ordained. Is it any wonder people are leaving the Church in droves?

  55. You are so right Des………he didn’t call anyone from any of the other categories you mention! In Canada, we had a theologian by the name of Joanna Manning, and she wrote a book entitled: “Is the Pope Catholic?” In her book, she is very clear, about the central reason(s) the Vatican refuses women’s ordination. She also is very clear about the theological and scriptural research that refutes their position. Rome has simply hardened their hearts to any new scholarship. As well, Gary Wells of the United States wrote a book not too long ago entitled: “Papal Sin, Structures of Deceit”.
    A book well worth reading. We simply cannot know the life story of every single woman in the Universal Church. So, it is a position of extreme arrogrance for the Vatican to assume, that Christ has not called any woman and graced her with the charism of the cultic priesthood. No person’s journey with the Lord is the same and I know absolutely, positively, that Christ has graced a woman in such a way. So, while we spend precious time and energy defending the CDF, the woman who is graced with this vocation of Christ is persecuted, but hopefully, she will not return to the Lord without depositing her gifts anyway, depositing her gifts for a Church Institution that threw her away.

  56. Paddy Clarkin says:

    Lads and Lassies
    I am absolutely gob-smacked at some(I stress some) of the ideas that have been bandied around in this discussion. Obedience, dont question, dont protest, church encyccals.
    Surely, we have learned at this stage that all of the above destroyed many of our innocent children in this country. Have welearned nothing? Do we believe in Jesus Christ(God by our faith) and his teachings or some doctrine that man created to serve his own needs. Can somebody please tell me where Jesus said that any man can excommunicate another i.e. deny him access to Christ or make him a lesser Christian.
    Father Flannery is not being openly supported by his fellow priests because they are terrified of the same thing. Waht do they do – who will look after them etc etc.
    It really if a scandal. Dont stop Father Flannery – you’re a legend

  57. Bob Hayes says:

    Darlene (58), you evidently share Joanna Manning’s views expressed in her book ‘Is the Pope a Catholic’. Is this by any chance the same Joanna Manning who supports Catholics for Choice? In its own words:
    “Catholics for Choice believes in a world where everyone has equal access to the full range of reproductive health-care services—including access to safe and legal abortion services and affordable and reliable forms of contraception.”
    Joanna Manning is another so-called ‘moderniser’ for whom the slaughter of the innocents is not a wicked sin, but a goal of ‘liberation’.

  58. Actually, Bob, I wouldn’t know about her “prochoice stance” if she has one……..my point was to highlight what “research” she has done from the scripture in regards to women in the Church. My personal stance to any killing…….is that it is wrong, by virtue of the fact, that God, doesnot recommend killing. I think the issue of whether or not it’s okay to “kill” is going to muddle the discussion and the directions for the writing on the website is to keep to the point.

  59. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    It’s good to see all the feedback, some supportive and some not so supportive. There are several points that can’t be denied by either party: Canon Law which dictates such matters as the ordination of women and priestly celibacy comes third after Natural Law (2) and Divine Law(1). Those matters which pose ideas against Natural Law can not retain the force of law – they are simply customs/traditions in the Roman Catholic Church. If we are to understand Natural Law, the ideas supported by the ACP, despite being contrary to Canon Law, conform to Natural Law. This outlines the importance of St. Thomas’s doctrine – the Church considers his doctrine her own, by Dominican decree. If you are the Pope and you decide to instill a tradition that does not conform to Natural Law, you better hope that it is either supportive of the religion or being supported by the the Church itself, with each baptized member holding an equal footing in this regard. If it is not supported, then Canon 212 certainly allows for the appropriate dialogue to take place. This is the importance of this matter – this conscience that you think you are hearing is the voice of St. Thomas telling you that you are doing the right thing. They must implement the ability for Christendom to give their feedback per Canon 212 but really, in its essence, Fr. Tony has a valid arguement simply with Canon Law not adhering to Natural Law – especially on the ordination of women and celibacy issue – this is all long overdue.

  60. Fr. Kieran says:

    Hi Darlene (58),
    I am not sure Joanna Manning is a good example, when discussing the circumstances of Fr. Tony, she makes our Tina Beattie look like a Traditionalist! She seems way off the mark, and comes across more as a self-publicist rather than a theologian. Former nun, employed by the Church, doesn’t agree with Church teaching, spits out her dummy, stamps her foot and then joins the Anglican Church (at least she had the integrity to leave the Church). If you want to read a balanced argument regarding the reasons why women cannot be ordained, read anything by Sara Butler … A proper theologian.

  61. Martin Murray says:

    Ned (54 above) Congratulations to your Parish Pastoral Council on its vote of support for Fr Tony Flannery. A truely inspirational move and maybe a hint of the church of the future. One which is not dominated and restricted by clericalism. I hope others follow your example.

  62. For the past couple of days my tears seem to be flowing inward creating a pool of sadness for Tony and for what we have become in our church since Jesus walked the earth. Baffled and stunned, I can only come up with questions:
    _Would Jesus condemn someone for merely wanting to have a dialog with him on priestly celibacy or women priests?
    _Would he “excommunicate” him, from afar, without even meeting him?
    Without talking to him? Without looking in his eyes? Without listening to his story? Without reading his heart?
    More questions:
    _Where are the bishops and priests of Ireland hiding, many of whom have the same desire for dialog as Tony?
    _Are they really that fearful?
    _Is is possible that they are satisfied to allow a good, committed brother-priest to be cast out–a colleague who has given over forty years of his life to communicating the Good News of the Gospel?
    _Are they really that disengaged?
    I leave these questions hanging. Tony, you know from what I have written that you have my admiration and support for your courage and faithfulness to your own conscience. Take care of yourself.

  63. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Rosaline, you are right to ask ‘Where are the bishops and priests of Ireland hiding?’
    I’d be a bit more specific and ask: Where are up to 99% of the Association of Catholic Priests members hiding? In an upper room at the Regency or City West waiting for tongues of fire to come down on them about fifty days from now? Sorry lads, it just doesn’t happen like that these days. You’ve got a tongue in your head and a pen or keyboard to hand. Rekindle your own fire from under your gríosach. Write next Sunday’s homily now and make it a good one, from your heart and head. You didn’t sign up just to be a paper member, or for the sake of th’insurance when you saw what happened Fr Kevin Reynolds. Not, mind you, that what happened to Fr Oliver Brennan of Blackrock, Dundalk, gave much of a spur to the Armagh crowd. But when, at the end of a year or two, you think that what your semi-dormant parish needs is a mission or retreat or novena, you needn’t start wondering whether that inspiring Redemptorist from Galway or Limerick or somewhere could give you a few evenings of his time.
    As Fr Pearse Timoney suggested in a neighbouring thread, even with all its delators and informers and monsignori and eminences, the CDF can’t guillotine you all simultaneously.

  64. Good Morning Bob and Rosaline:
    Thank you Rosaline for framing your response the way you did by posing the questions……….very effective for reflection and you point to the stark difference between Christ and the CDF.
    For Bob: It’s been many, many years since I looked at Joanna Mannings book or even heard about her. My comment was intended to say that she, in particular, outlines very well what the Vatican’s reasons are for refusing ordination for women. Unfortunately, I no longer have her book, because it would have been information that might have added to the discussion.

  65. Paul Nolan says:

    There would appear to be some confusion surrounding the dispute between Father Tony Flannery and the CDF.
    On the one hand, there are articles appearing all over the world saying that Fr. Flannery is threatened with excommunication, and that this is largely because he disagrees with certain Church teachings on sexuality and/or women priests.
    But, according to an article in The Irish Catholic, the CDF denies that there has been any threat of excommunication, and says that the difficulty is Fr. Flannery’s rejection of Vatican II and other Church teaching on the origins and nature of Catholic priesthood.
    Before there are any more articles, statements, vigils, etc., it might be wise to seek greater clarity regarding the precise nature of the disagreement and the specific sanctions mentioned by the CDF in their communications with Fr. Michael Brehl.

  66. Bob Hayes says:

    Ned (54) and Martin (66) interesting thoughts on democratising the Church – ‘inspirational move and maybe a hint of the church of the future’, as you say Martin. I can just visualise the Church Ard Fheis embracing the ‘best practice’ of Bertie, Enda and the political elites: ‘You accept our three episcopal nominations and we’ll vote for your “gay marriage” encyclical’. You must be kidding!

  67. This whole scenario is both rather disturbing and frightening. We have an institutional church living out a siege mentality; alienating itself daily from the realities of the everyday life and faith existence of its members;an institution run by single celibate male heterosexual virgins ( at least that’s the theory). In fact, the Church is run by a significant number of repressed, homosexual and in so many other ways, dysfunctional individuals. For decades the Church has always seen the ‘enemy’ as an infidious influence outside its life – in relaity, it is the Church itself which is rapidly becoming the agent of its own destruction.

  68. Andrew@73
    “in reality, it is the Church itself which is rapidly becoming the agent of it’s own destruction”
    There has been such a extraordinary response to Tony Flannery’s plight since last Sunday and such an outpouring of wisdom, knowledge and good sense — with just a few pieces of nonsense — that much as one would like to respond with support and to thank the writers for their contributions, it has been impossible to do so unless we had hours to spend in front of our PC screens. Infact, for the first time I have found it hard to even keep up with all the posts on the various threads that concern Tony’s position. However,Andrew, you sum things so well @73 above that I felt I had to respond to you. Our institutional church is becoming more and more the agent of it’s own demise. What really has been exercising my mind in recent days, apart from my heartfelt sympathy for Tony, is what our bishops are thinking of all this. I am sure they are all intelligent men of good intention; they must realise as we all do that this autocratic, bullying behaviour from Rome is catastrophic for the well-being and future of our Catholic Church. The four archbishops got together to respond to the so-called Dolan Report into the Irish College in Rome. Is there any chance at all that they might now find the courage to respond to this present depressing situation?
    I wish I could be part of the peaceful, prayer vigil on the Navan Road tomorrow but I cannot be there. However, I hope there will be thousands of others.

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