Priest resigns as dean of Maynooth Deanery over treatment of Tony Flannery

It may seem illogical to step down as the Dean of the Maynooth Deanery over an issue that is neither specifically my own nor diocesan. However, justice has no frontiers.
In this case it is the disrespectful and unjust treatment of Fr Tony Flannery that moves me to this action.
I would like to thank the Deanery members for electing me on the last two occasions to what is a gender-inclusive and dynamic Deanery. I am indebted to Ellie McKeown (Office of Evangelisation) for her formative and continuing work with the Parish Pastoral Councils of the Deanery. Bishop Raymond Field, the area bishop, has at all times been an encourager of Deanery initiatives. The Archbishop gives confidence to Deaneries to take greater responsibility for witnessing to the Gospel through Deanery co-responisibility in our diocese.
It is extremely distressing and depressing the manner in which Fr Flannery has been dealt with by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I was ordained nearly 33 years ago and can say with certitude, that if the truth were told, some of his views are shared by many Priests of the Archdiocese of Dublin. It is a sad reflection on the rights of the person and the pre-eminence of conscience that a man of such integrity, kindness and stature is treated in such a manner. Of course, he is not the first and perhaps will not be the last to be thus treated as Rome is a law unto itself.
Fr Timothy Radcliffe, in a recent reflection on the 2nd Vatican Council, spoke of Pope Paul VI’s profound sense of the need for dialogue between the Church and the world but was nervous of enshrining dialogue in the core of its government. We now live in a Church where courage is silenced by fear, and one can only reflect that the Gospel we cherish and struggle to live seems to be a “dead letter” within Vatican bureaucracy.
Fr. John Hassett

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  1. In the last paragraph of my recent posting “And so Lent begins” , I wrote:
    We face a centralised governance of the Church where local experience and need seem to count for little. Conformity to the norm is the measure by which we are judged. When others who share our trust in the Lord are judged without fair hearing, when they only seek the good of the Church that has been and is their home, and are censured for it, we mustn’t turn away from the challenge to support them in whatever way we can.
    Maybe we should all enter this period of Lent anxious to learn where the Spirit is leading us and help each other on the way.
    “He aint heavy, he’s my brother” *
    Fr John Hassett makes clear his distance from the circumstances of Fr Tony Flannery in his opening comments. Yet still he feels the need to stand by him.
    That is precisely the importance of recognising each other as brothers and so sharing the load

  2. Fr John, thank you for your courage. I believe that fear is at the root of much, if not all, the problems we face from the Vatican and indeed throughout the Church. Let’s pray that the God of unconditional love will strengthen our faith in the knowledge that ‘perfect love casts out all fear’.

  3. Very difficult for you to make this stand. Well done and thank you for standing up for decency, justice, the right and good.
    I’d say too he’s not the first and won’t be the last. Maybe he should be.

  4. Mary O Vallely says:

    How heartwarming to read this. The Holy Spirit is at work here. I think there are 115 theologians who have been silenced or censured by the last two popes. We mustn’t forget the others as well as “our” Tony Flannery. May not only windows be open to let in fresh air in this new papacy but the doors be open to all who have been shut out, dismissed and treated with an appalling lack of humanity.
    Does my heart good to read of Fr John Hassett’s honest and courageous stance. “Come out, come out, wherever you are,” the rest of you ordained who are nodding your heads in agreement. These little signs of hope are binding us together as we earnestly pray that the Nazarene’s message is finally getting through.

  5. Soline Humbert says:

    Thank you John for your stepping down which is a courageous “standing up”
    And no it is certainly not illogical: It is the logic of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Love. “when one member of the body suffers, we all suffer”.Let us support each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We must move from silence to solidarity, from collusion with injustice to speaking truth to unjust power. May the Spirit give us the wisdom and the courage to speak and act at this crucial kairos time in the life of the church.Let us give up fear for this Lent!

  6. Louise O'Brien says:

    I would like to express my thanks to Fr John for taking such a noble stand on the issue of how Tony Flannery has been treated. It would have been so easy to say ‘sure one action won’t change Rome’ and we know it won’t, but it always serves to remind us that the call to be truly Christian often requires alot of courage and a dying to self and ones hopes and dreams.
    In a week when Pope Benedict has been applauded – and rightly so- for giving up his position and his power- perhaps it is right and fitting that those who do likewise, with much less support, get due credit.
    Fr Tony led the way and Fr John has followed. To both of you I say Thanks.
    I am at a loss as to know what we, as lay people, might be able to do on a similiar line?.
    We discussed it at our parish council and the overwhelming response from the group was that we needed to make our unease with the procedures involved known to those in authorities.
    How that can best be done we have not yet agreed.
    As we discussed making our parish a place where all felt safe, respected and cherished many felt we had not been given a great role model from Rome.

  7. Fr John Hassett, thank you so much. Your stance has lifted my spirits and given me great hope at a time when the institutional Church is really getting me down (to put it mildly). It seems that the Good News of these days is when someone like you stands up for truth and justice. God bless you.

  8. When I read Fr John Hassett’s reasons for resigning I experienced mixed emotions. I was first overcome with sadness that such a gifted Priest should resign. Then I experienced happiness and gratitude because Fr John believed that his brother Priest Fr Tony was wronged by the C.D. F. and consequently had to be supported. Fr John’s action is exemplary.
    I fully agree with Tony Hoey, there is a huge fear factor with many Priests. The saddest post I read recently on the ACP website was from a Priest who signed himself Fr P.P. It is clear there are many Fr P.P’s in our country that are afraid of their lives to come out in the open and support Fr Tony. Is that what we have come to in the ONE TRUE CATHOLIC AND APOLOSTIC CHURCH? Jesus is still weeping.

  9. Yes, Ger……..What kind of Christian Community, do we have, where people, other priests, have to resign their ministries to be heard and where they do this to protect and support other priests?
    We are having to “fight” Rome. Not some, bullying secular government or institution, but Rome. Does that not appear to be absolutely insane?

  10. It is strange how prayer is hardly ever mentioned in comments for Fr. Flannery on this website. I don’t really understand that. He needs prayers as do all Priests. May I suggest you pray the Rosary and Chaplet of Mercy for him daily or offer up the Holy Mass daily or weekly or an Hour of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament daily during Lent, if you truly care for him. God bless you.

  11. Brendan Butler says:

    Thank you John for being a witness to the freedom of the daughers and sons of God in calling for dialogue within our community of believers.The Vatican is trying to resurrect the abstract adage that ‘error has no rights ‘ when anyone challenges governance and/or doctrinal issues within our Church.It must recognise that persons who express differing views to those of Roman theological opinion have equal dignity and fundamental human rights to those of our Pontiff and as such must be treated with the same dignity, respect and due process.
    Hopefully John your example will encourage other priests to speak out against this creeping infallibility and resultant fear that is becoming endemic in our Church.

  12. Colm Holmes says:

    Thank you Fr John Hassett for your courageous act which you chose to make public. It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. I hope that after the ACP meet in Athlone on the 20th of February there will be one hundred more candles lit in support of Fr Tony Flannery by his fellow priests. They have nothing to fear except fear itself. The truth will set you free.

  13. Mary Lyng says:

    Thank you, John, for your courageous stance. It is so refreshing to see someone of your integrity standing up for what is essentially an issue of justice. Yes, the Church has wonderful documents on social justice but until she addresses the injustices within her own structures, she cannot be a credible witness to the gospel.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you, John and with Tony Flannery and all those priests who have been censured in any way for their efforts in promoting dialogue. After all, that is all we ask.

  14. My imagination is probably working overtime, but I was envisioning hundreds, maybe thousands of priests and bishops, the world over, not necessarily resigning, but protesting nonetheless, in favor of priests and other members of the Church treated harshly and unjustly, and even in regards, to issues that need to be addressed, like women’s ordination. Wouldn’t that be something?
    I hope the next Pope reverses unjust decisions previously made by the CDF, though I’m not necessarily promoting women’s ordination to the current clerical system.

  15. Thank you Fr John for your courage and frankness in taking your stand in support of Fr Tony Flannery. As a community we all benefit from the courage and strength shown by each person. At this very difficult time it is even more important than ever to support one another, to listen and to encourage each other in our living out of the gospel message. Know that we are with you in spirit and in prayer and with all those priests who may feel isolated and betrayed.

  16. Peter Mc Carron says:

    Well-done John. As a brother priest I very much support the action you have taken. It is so much easier to say and do nothing, with so much fear among us these days.
    Pope John XXIII wanted so much to open the windows of The Church, so that the fresh air of openness and new life of the Holy Spirit, could blow through. He longed that the women and men of our Church, would engage with the modern world, in a spirit of prayerful dialogue. Sadly the CDF seems to be in the process of firmly closing any windows that had been opened.
    So we now see the resulting suffocation and the steady growth of fearful clerical authoritarianism.
    “Lord Jesus, we entrust to you all that is broken, wounded and dysfunctional in Your Church. Please heal and renew us, calm our anxieties and show us the way foreword. Amen.”

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