Taoiseach goes where bishops fear to tread?

Along with the reports of a possible Papal visit to Ireland RTE is saying that An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, may have raised the issue of Irish priests who have been ‘silenced’ at a meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican. Following the meeting Mr. Kenny is reported as saying that Pope Francis will visit Ireland in 2018.
RTE Report

….. Mr Kenny held a 23-minute meeting with the pope in the Vatican.

….. The meeting was requested following the invitation to the pope by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to visit Ireland for their church’s World Meeting of Families in two years.

The Taoiseach would not confirm or deny that he had raised the issue of Irish priests who had been silenced to varying degrees by the Vatican over their published views on issues such as the ordination of women and priestly celibacy.

A reliable clerical source told RTÉ News that Mr. Kenny was to raise the cases of six Irish priests who have been silenced by the Catholic Church. The source said the Taoiseach spoke to at least one of the priests concerned before departing for Rome.

When pressed after his meeting with Pope Francis, Mr. Kenny said he had “a number of issues which would in my view help greatly his visit when he comes in 2018.

“That’s an area which I think he appreciates.”

Under the pontificates of St Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the writings of the priests were ordered to be censored by local church authorities.

The decision was made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

One of them, world-renowned theologian Fr. Seán Fagan, died last July.

Another, Fr. Tony Flannery, has been removed from ministry because he refused to recant in writing his statements disagreeing with the church’s absolute ban on ordaining women priests, with its ban on artificial contraception and with its teaching on homosexuality.

The other four must submit anything they propose to publish to church censors.

They are: journalist and broadcaster Fr. Brian D’Arcy, theologian Fr. Owen O’Sullivan, former editor of Reality magazine Fr. Gerry Moloney and church historian Fr. Iggy O’Donovan.

In the past, Fr. Flannery has said that the crux of the matter is the secretive manner in which the CDF investigates a priest’s utterances and writings without allowing him to know the charges against him, so that he can prepare a defence before an edict is handed down from the Vatican.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, Fr. O’Donovan said he does not expect that following such a brief meeting with the Taoiseach that the priests’ treatment was discussed in any great detail.

He said that in his view “asking the pope himself like that would be next to useless” as these matters “are handled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and I don’t know to what extent the pope is in charge of that, but you get the feeling that they’re biding their time”.

He said: “We don’t know their names or who takes the action against us, or who imposes the sanctions; that’s all done in secret,” adding “it’s not the pope himself directly” and he said he does not think “there wouldn’t be any bearing in anything the Taoiseach might bring up with the pope”.

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  1. If an Taoiseach has indeed spoken to Francis about this scandal we can only say “good on Enda”.

  2. Brendan Cafferty says:

    It seems to me that Kenny may indeed have raised this matter.He did not go into it in any detail-such private discussions away from officials are not made public but one can read between the lines. With improving relations between the Vatican and this state and the proposed Papal visit, I would hope that something will come of this.Surely the Pope has some influence in the matter ! Pity the Irish Bishops do not throw their weight behind this, what are they afraid of?

  3. Brendan
    I think they are afraid of a vicious, vindictive and still all-powerful bureaucracy. Look at the Nuncio’s recent attempt to pass the CDF buck to Orders’ Superiors.

  4. Joe Walsh says:

    The CDF’s secret surveillance of clergy does more harm to the church than anything these guys have said or written. That CDF officials don’t see the collateral damage done to the faithful by its way of operating only confirms their unsuitability for the task. Grown up Catholics can easily separate the wheat from the chaff of what they read and hear. Some have already done it when they write letters of complaint to Rome or newspapers. The CDF should ignore those kinds of complaints and get on with the job of making our rich heritage of faith more accessible and attractive to people.

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