Press Release: Restore Fr Tony Flannery to Ministry

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP)and Lay Catholic Group (LCG)

Press Release

8 March 2023

Restore Fr Tony Flannery to Ministry

Eleven years ago the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) instructed the Redemptorist authorities to remove Fr Tony Flannery indefinitely from his priestly ministry. Tony Flannery was effectively tried, judged and sentenced in his absence. That verdict continues to this day.

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) and the Lay Catholic Group (LCG) believe that a grave injustice has been perpetrated against Tony Flannery in that he has been denied standard prerequisites of a just and fair procedure. He was never informed who his accusers were, never given an opportunity to defend himself and never allowed to appeal the decision. This flawed process has condemned Tony Flannery – now in his late 70s – to a gratuitous and unacceptable punishment of banishment from the exercise of his priesthood, effectively for life.  

A grave injustice been done to him but also this injustice could have been undone, should have been undone, can still be undone but Tony Flannery is left in a grotesque situation. He was refused permission to officiate at his sister’s funeral, as per her wishes. 

There is a growing presumption because he has been sidelined that he is persona non grata. This presents him in a totally unfair, unjust and, above all, false light.

In the wake of the Synodal Pathway how can the Church accept the decision against Tony Flannery? The issues he wrote about which resulted in his removal from priestly ministry are now healthily being discussed in the public forums of the Catholic Church.

The ACP and the LCG call on the Church authorities and the Redemptorist authorities to restore Tony Flannery to ministry. To do so would give some credence to “the infinite tenderness of God” of which Pope Francis speaks.


ACP: Roy Donovan, Tim Hazelwood, John Collins, Gerry O’Connor, Brendan Hoban.

LCG: Marie Morrissey, Eamon Maher, Angela Hanley, Kathleen McDonnell.

Media Contacts: Brendan Hoban 086-6065055; Marie Morrissey 086-8197894;

Tim Hazelwood 087-1337164; Roy Donovan 087-2225150.


Confirmation: Liamy Mac Nally, ACP Admin Secretary, 087-2233220

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  1. Paddy Ferry says:

    All decent and fair minded people will support this.
    And well done for taking this initiative.

    1. Jean Swift says:

      Time is not on Tony Flannery’s side so it is essential that the reversal of this unjust action be done quickly. Would it help to start a campaign to demand action by the papal nuncio?

  2. Eamonn Monson says:

    I hope this petition been sent directly to Pope Francis as an appeal to “the infinite tenderness of God”.

  3. Mary Booth says:

    I appeal to all Church leaders but especially the Redemptorist Order to support Fr. Tony Flannery’s plea to be restored to full ministry. This has gone on for far too long and much has changed in the intervening years regarding Church matters. I have longstanding connections with the Redemptorists in Ireland and would love to see strong leadership with regard to Tony’s situation. The time is now.

  4. Phil Dunne says:

    I fully support this petition
    Phil Dunne

  5. Colm Holmes says:

    We Are Church Ireland endorses and supports the call by the ACP and the LCG that Fr Tony Flannery should be restored to ministry. He has suffered a great injustice for over 10 years at the hands of our church hierarchy, who have behaved in a most un-Christian manner.

    Denise Boyle
    Emmet Devlin
    Nieves Fernandez
    Ursula Halligan
    Colm Holmes
    Ruairi Meyler

  6. Maire Lawless says:

    I wish to lend my wholehearted support to this petition. I fail to understand how a church which upholds justice and peace issues can perpetrate such a major injustice on Tony one of its own faithful ministers. He has dedicated his life to ministry in the Church and now he is not allowed to do the work he loves.
    A reversal of this unfair judgement would go some way towards restoring credibility to a Church which is losing members daily.

  7. Pat O'Sullivan says:

    Congratulations to the ACP and LCG on this initiative. A solution to this particular injustice is so long overdue.
    But I keep thinking that, because Tony has spent most of his priestly life at the service of the Irish Church, this solution cannot be just left to his Redemptorist congregation and the CDF. Because it is obviously an issue for the whole Irish Church, wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that the Irish Bishops’ Conference would intervene to find a solution?
    I remember when the Franciscan priest, Leonardo Boff, was summoned to Rome back in the 80s, the Brazilian Conference of Bishops sent two of its most influential members, Dom Aloisio/Fortaleza and Paulo Arns/Sao Paulo, to accompany him to meet the CDF. While they were unable to save Leonardo from being ‘silenced’, Dom Aloisio told his priests a few weeks later that no other Brazilian theologian would be summoned to Rome, after their having informed Pope John Paul II in no uncertain terms that the Bishops’ Conference would deal with any such issues.

  8. Sean O’Conaill says:

    The CDF’s admitted reliance on ‘delators’ (anonymous informers of writings deemed heretical) was always in itself poisonous and despicable, undermining even those who stuck to whatever was deemed orthodox who found themselves accused of ‘playing safe’ and of not being sincere. It gave us an intellectual climate very similar to that operating in the old USSR, a level of distrust of ‘parrhesia’ that paralysed ‘communion, participation and mission’ after 1968.

    The ‘visitators’ ignored all of that and blamed the most courageous questioners in the Irish church for the advance of secularism. Synodality will not be convincing in Ireland until that mistake has been undone. Well done ACP in advancing this cause now – well in time for the autumn assembly in Rome.

  9. Anthony Neville, Chair of the Association of Catholics in Ireland says:

    The Association of Catholics in Ireland fully support the call for Tony Flannery to be restored to ministry. The way in which Tony was silenced with no means of appeal contradicts the concept of a merciful God. At a time when Church leaders and millions of Catholics around the world, in preparation for the Synod of Bishops in October, are expressing the same views as Tony, it is unacceptable to continue this unjust treatment of him.
    The Redemptrist leadership, supported by the ICBC, should press Rome to restore Tony’s ministry.

  10. Soline Humbert says:

    The way Tony Flannery has been denied, and continues to be denied a just and fair process, is a stark reminder that while we are officially embarked on becoming a synodal church, much of the ecclesiastical totalitarian regime, with its apparatus and mindset, remains securely in situ. It ignores human rights…and the church’s own social doctrine. One cannot preach justice credibly to the world if one doesn’t practice it at home. Alas, it is not the only blatant injustice.
    We must insist that addressing them is an integral part, a priority, of our synodal process, with concrete, visible effects to remedy the injustice. No Synodal Pathway without justice.

  11. Paddy Ferry says:

    Very well said, Soline.
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you Soline and to Liamy and all our fellow contributors to our ACP site.
    Hopefully, by next St. Patrick’s Day justice will finally prevail and Tony will once again have his “keys” restored, to quote Francis in that famous phone call to James Alison.

  12. Soline Humbert says:

    Thank you Paddy and a happy Saint Patrick’s day to you (your own patron saint) too and Liamy and all readers & contributors.
    I have great grá for Saint Patrick
    (the title is the editor’s choice not mine!)
    About Tony Flannery’s situation, James Alison had his former novice master who had access to the Pope to speak for him. It would appear that’s the key to unlock things…

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