Tony Flannery and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

After recent overtures to the CDF to overturn its ruling against Tony Flannery a reply was sent from the CDF to the leadership of the Redemptorists.

The CDF wrote, “Fr Flannery should not return to public ministry prior to submitting a signed statement regarding his positions on homosexuality, civil unions between persons of the same sex, and the admission of women to the priesthood.”

“the Irish Provincial should ask Fr Flannery to give his assent to the statement by providing his signature in each of the places indicated (enclosure).” Separate statements about church teaching in certain areas were included with  place for for Tony to sign.

They then added “Furthermore, given the fact that he has stated numerous times that he is not a theologian, he should be asked to not speak publically on the above-mentioned topics which have caused problems in the past.”

Tony Flannery in a comment to the Irish Times said he was “not surprised, but disappointed and saddened”. “In my view it is a document that, both in tone and content, would be more at home in the 19th century. I could not possibly sign those propositions.”

The issue of equality, and ordination, of women “is now freely discussed in the Church,” he said, and that he was “on record for many years now in supporting, indeed emphasizing the necessity, of full equality for women, including ordination. How could I possibly sign that first proposition.”

The same applied to “ official Church language on homosexuality and homosexual relationships,” which he described as “appalling. I could not submit to it. As regards same sex marriage, I voted in favour of it. I don’t know enough about Gender Theory to have any strong views on it, and I don’t know where that one came from.”

These are the statements that the CDF demanded that Tony sign:
  1. The Reservation of Priesthood to Men Alone

The following paragraph is taken from the Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis of Pope John Paul 11 (1994).

4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.

The following paragraphs are taken from the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia (2020). While addressing the strength and gift of women, Pope Francis at the same time affirms the reservation of the sacred priesthood to men alone.

The strength and gift ofwomen

  1. In the Amazon region, there are communities that have long preserved and handed on the faith even though no priest has come their way, even for decades. This could happen because of the presence of strong and generous women who, undoubtedly called and prompted by the Holy Spirit, baptized, catechized, prayed and acted as missionaries. For centuries, women have kept the Church alive in those places through their remarkable devotion and deep faith. Some of them, speaking at the Synod, moved us profoundly by their testimony.
  2. This summons us to broaden our vision, lest we restrict our understanding of the Church to her functional structures. Such a reductionism would lead us to believe that women would be granted a greater status and participation in the Church only if they were admitted to Holy Orders. But that approach would in fact narrow our vision; it would lead us to clericalize women, diminish the great value of what they have already accomplished, and subtly make their indispensable contribution less effective.
  3. Jesus Christ appears as the Spouse of the community that celebrates the Eucharist through the figure of a man who presides as a sign of the one Priest. This dialogue between the Spouse and his Bride, which arises in adoration and sanctifies the community, should not trap us in partial conceptions of power in the Church. The Lord chose to reveal his power and his love through two human faces: the face of his divine Son made man and the face of a creature, a woman, Mary. Women make their contribution to the Church in a way that is properly theirs, by making present the tender strength of Mary, the Mother. As a result, we do not limit ourselves to a functional approach, but enter instead into the inmost structure of the Church. In this way, we will fundamentally realize why, without women, the Church breaks down, and how many communities in the Amazon would have collapsed, had women not been there to sustain them, keep them together and care for them. This shows the kind of power that is typically theirs.
  4. We must keep encouraging those simple and straightforward gifts that enabled women in the Amazon region to play so active a role in society, even though communities now face many new and unprecedented threats. The present situation requires us to encourage the emergence of other forms of service and charisms that are proper to women and responsive to the specific needs of the peoples of the Amazon region at this moment in history.
  5. In a synodal Church, those women who in fact have a central part to play in Amazonian communities should have access to positions, including ecclesial services, that do not entail Holy Orders and that can better signify the role that is theirs. Here it should be noted that these services entail stability, public recognition and a commission from the bishop. This would also allow women to have a real and effective impact on the organization, the most important decisions and the direction of communities, while continuing to do so in a way that reflects their womanhood.

DOCTRINAL PROPOSITION: According to the Tradition and the doctrine ofthe Church incorporated in the Canon Law (c. 1024), a baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.

I, Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss.R, submit to the above doctrinal proposition given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Fr. Tony Flannery, C.Ss.R


  1. The Moral Liceity of Homosexual Practices

The following paragraph is taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 2357.

  1. Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

DOCTRINAL PROPOSITION: Since the homosexual practices are contrary to the natural law and do not proceedfrom a genuine affective and sexual complementarity, they are not approved by the moral teaching of the Catholic Church (cf. CCC 2357).

I, Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss.R, submit to the above doctrinal proposition given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Fr. Tony Flannery, C.Ss.R


  1. The Institution of Marriage and Same-Sex Marriages

The following paragraph is taken from the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhoration Amoris Laetitia (2016), In this paragraph Pope Francis affirms that only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman benefits society.

  1. No one can think that the weakening of the family as that natural society founded on marriage will prove beneficial to society as a whole. The contrary is true: it poses a threat to the mature growth of individuals, the cultivation of community values and the moral progress of cities and countries. There is a failure to realize that only the exclusive and indissoluble union be-tween a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life. We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions for example, may not simply be equated with marriage. No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society. But nowadays who is making an effort to strengthen marriages, to help married couples overcome their problems, to assist them in the work of raising children and, in general, to encourage the stability of the marriage bond.

The following article is taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 1660 (cf. GS 48; CIC 1055, \1).

  1. The Marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament.

DOCTRINAL PROPOSITION: The Marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator (CCC 1660). Other forms of union do not correspond to God’s plan for marriage andfamily. Therefore, they are not allowed by the Catholic Church.

I, Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss,R, submit to the above doctrinal proposition given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Fr. Tony Flannery, C.Ss.R

4.     “Gender Theory”

The following paragraph is taken from the Congregation For Education’s document on gender theory in education, “Male and Female He Created Them” (2019).

  1. The context in which the mission of education is carried out is characterized by challenges emerging from varying forms of an ideology that is given the general name ‘ gender theory’ , which “denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society with-out sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programmes and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time.”

DOCTRINAL PROPOSITION: In so far as it contradicts the foundations of a genuine Christian anthropology, gender theory is not accepted by Catholic teaching (cf. Congregation for Catholic Education, Male and Female He Created Them, nn. 2-4; 19-23 and passim).

I, Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss.R, submit to the above doctrinal proposition given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Fr. Tony Flannery, C.Ss.R

I, Fr. Tony Flannery C.SS.R, submit to all of the above doctrinal propositions given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as they pertain to the Church’s teaching on the: 1, Reservation of the sacred priesthood to men alone; 2. The moral liceity of homosexual practices; 3. The legal recognition of marriage between persons of the same sex; and 4. “Gender Theory.”


Fr. Tony Flannery, C.Ss.R.                                                                  Date



Similar Posts


  1. Joe O'Leary says:

    The CDF, formerly the Roman Inquisition and the Holy Office, should be dissolved. It has offered nothing to the Church for decades except reactionary postures, often laced with misogyny and homophobia, and now transphobia. Its crusade against liberal theologians, chilling to all theologians, has left the Catholic church in a tragically depleted state theologically just when mature and profound theology is needed. It is good to see that the CDF found nothing heretical in Tony’s teaching, and that it is just displaying its usual hang-ups.

  2. Brian Culley says:

    Given the open discussion currently in our church, as well as the dissent voiced by some including a few archbishops and cardinals, this reactionary treatment of a long serving missionary is without any merit.

    I will pray for the CDF that they may be converted to the Jesus of the Gospels.

  3. Joe O'Leary says:

    It’s interesting that the “doctrinal propositions” hold out a tempting plank, whereby the signatory can claim that he agrees “that is what the church currently teaches” while retaining a mental reservation (“the church currently teaches it, but it’s wrong and I disagree with it”). The Vatican would be happy to dissolve the dispute in this way and to proclaim “laudabiliter se subjecit”, but Tony rightly notes that such hypocritical games belong to the past.

  4. Seamus Ahearne says:

    This document is frightening. It makes no sense in a living Church. It is embarrassing and hurtful. There are several bum notes here between the Church proposed by everything Pope Francis says and this document. It doesn’t belong to the Church most of us know and love or the Church of Jesus Christ that we belong to. It sounds like archival material from a long time ago.

    This discordant sound seriously offends against any proper understanding of incarnational theology.

    Many of us know Tony. He never looked like a heretic or sounded like one. He never qualified to be burned at the stake. And if he did; he would have most of us as company.

    Seamus Ahearne osa

  5. Barry McGonigle says:

    Would anyone like to guess how many Catholics attending Sunday mass could or would sign such a daft declaration?
    God’s blessings on Fr Flannery. I still miss his stewardship of Reality.

  6. Sean O’Conaill says:

    It is striking that one could meticulously subscribe and submit to all of this and yet be St Paul’s ‘booming gong’ and ‘clashing cymbal’ – as well as the hypocrite of Matthew 23 who does nothing to lift the burdens he places on other men’s shoulders and creates barriers for others to the Kingdom of God while refusing to enter himself.

    Nevertheless this page will be useful – as a a reference point for future historians wanting to understand why only one ordination is scheduled this year in Ireland.

    With a view to that latter future activity, is provision being made for the secure archiving of this site, given the obvious temporality of its current mantainers?

  7. Paddy Ferry says:

    I agree completely with everything said @1,2,3 and 4 above.

    This is really appalling, shocking. I thought we had entered a new enlightened era with Francis.

  8. Joe O'Leary says:

    Looking again at the document submitted to Tony for his signature and the accompanying letter, what shouts out from every line is the sheer theological ignorance and incompetence of the bureaucrats who drafted it.

    The church is not particularly endowed with fine theologians at the moment (and less so since Nicholas Lash, James Mackey, and the amazing Joseph Moingt left us recently) and certainly none of them are lining up to work for the CDF.

    So what we are seeing is a bunch of Keystone Cops falling over themselves and in dialogue only with themselves.

    Since the Vatican has totally refused dialogue on the four issues raised, and has even forbidden it, it is unsurprising that their performance is so tawdry and threadbare.

    What the CDF enunciates in the tones of an eichmannesque schoolboy is orchestrated in flamboyant hate speech by fanatical right wing preachers.

    But as recent developments show, these hate preachers are very ready to bite the hand that feeds them, and the fact that the document quotes from a pope they see as heretical further marginalizes the pathetic Vatican congregation, once the terror of the world.

    For fifty years the homophobic and misogynist and freedom-hating Catholic right has repeated over and over again the most barren and oppressive utterances of the CDF (several of which are adopted verbatim in the Catechism). But recently they have become emboldened to go further, trampling on the very authorities they idolized as they pursue the dynamic of their reactionary outlook to its bitterest consequence.

    As a few postings here lately have shown, this Catholic rightism is the worst enemy of Catholicism and has made a signal contribution to dividing and depleting our failing church.

  9. Paddy Ferry says:

    And everything @5 and @6 too.

  10. Soline Humbert says:

    How could anybody in their right mind be required to sign their name to such a mendacious hodgepodge!Frankly it’s laughable.Expected to walk the synodal path while shackled by the CDF?…I am looking forward to reading Tony’s new book.

  11. Liamy MacNally says:



    17 September 2020
    Feastday of Hildegard of Bingen

    Vatican unleashes the CDF on Fr Tony Flannery

    We Are Church Ireland fully support and applaud Fr Tony Flannery’s decision not to sign the CDF document. We know that Tony is a dedicated and much loved priest and his suspension from public ministry has been a great loss to the church in Ireland.

    The issues which concern the CDF – women priests, homosexuality, same sex marriage, and gender theory – are currently being widely discussed in the Catholic Church around the world, for example at the German Synodal Way.

    We thought that under Pope Francis dialogue was being encouraged and that “silencing” would no longer be the tool of engagement. But it appears that in the Vatican “compassion” must always be second to “obedience”. Where does that leave Christ’s message of love?

    Colm Holmes
    Spokesperson, We Are Church Ireland
    M +353 86 606 3636

    We Are Church Ireland is a Member of We Are Church International (WAC) founded in Rome in 1996. Our Mission is to work for Justice in the Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.

  12. Joe O'Leary says:

    I understated the links between Catholic rightists and the CDF. The CDF was actually led by a man who is now a darling of rightist websites such as Raymond Arroyo’s. I was in Germany in July 2012 when Benedict XVI appointed his Regensburg successor Gerhard Müller as Prefect of the CDF. The talk in Germany was about how delighted Regensburg was to be rid of the highly unpopular archbishop. His episcopal motto in 2002 was “Dominus Iesus”, surely intended as an echo of the much contested CDF declaration of 2000.

    As a theologian he wrote a huge Dogmatics which is a lavish apologetic for every item of doctrine. Some rightists accused him of denying the resurrection, the real presence, and the perpetual virginity of Mary, a baseless accusation, but no doubt triggered by Müller’s occasional dollops of sophsticated-sounding theological lingo. (His early studies were on Bonhoeffer.)

    As Prefect of the CDF Müller was unbearably arrogant, claiming to provide the Pope with a theological framework: “The arrival of a theologian like Benedict XVI in the chair of St. Peter was no doubt an exception. … Pope Francis is also more pastoral and our mission at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to provide the theological structure of a pontificate.”

    Benedict XVI should not have saddled Francis with Müller, who is not only an adept of Benedict but an eerie caricature of him (bereft of Benedict’s wit and charm). When Francis did not renew Müller’s tenure he threw a tantrum of wounded vanity and thwarted ambition which was without modern precedent. He now dogs the Pope as a brooding malcontent.

  13. Eddie Finnegan says:

    To steal half a line from Fr Liam Power, there must be a limit to appeasing CDF Ultras. These appeasers are a diverse and motley crew, including Pope Francis, Tony Flannery’s Redemptorist “superiors”, Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, parishes and Redemptorist centres which benefited from Tony’s retreats/missions in past decades – and of course the ACP One Thousand whose support for Tony Flannery has been impossible to gauge or guess at from their silent voices of reflection, discussion or commentary on their own forum over the past eight to ten years.

    In addition to the CDF’s outdated and obscurantist form of non-communication with Fr Flannery since at least 2012, this latest slyly inserts six paragraphs from Pope Francis’s synodal responses in Amoris Laetitia and Querida Amazonia, rather than just re-quote the brief paragraphs from John Paul II, the Catechism or Cardinal Ratzinger’s retro-declaration of infallibility for JPII.

    As for that final infra dig, “Given the fact that he has stated numerous times that he is not a theologian, he should be asked to not speak publically (sic) on the above mentioned topics which have caused problems in the past,” where does that leave such avowedly non-systematic theologians as Jorge Bergoglio who never got around to writing a doctoral thesis, or all those pastoral bishops Pope Francis would prefer to appoint?

    A sigh of relief from the Irish Redemptorists, though: they have not been ordered to trawl around Ireland’s non-Veritas bookshops to buy up any remaining unsold copies of the Flannery corpus. The Marists, allegedly, weren’t so lucky.

  14. Iggy O Donovan says:

    Regarding that document to Tony Flannery from the CDF. One has to ask if anything has really changed under Pope Francis. I put a lot of faith in him, but I now wonder if he has feet of clay at the end of the day. I know reform of any sort in Rome is fiendishly difficult.In Tony’s case things seem to have gone backwards Clearly the CDF and their ilk are beyond reform.
    One has to wonder too if religious superiors are anything more than supine tools of Rome if Tonys treatment is anything to go by.

  15. Gerry O'Hanlon says:

    It is difficult to understand how the severe, legal tone and content of the CDF document can be reconciled with the spirit of the papacy of Francis with its emphasis on mercy, and his encouragement of free and fearless speech within the Church. As the CDF well knows, these doctrinal propositions are contested within the Church, both by the ‘sense of the faithful’ and by common theological opinion – two sources of truth which Francis values greatly. It would seem that only the Irish Redemptorists and Tony himself – whose courage I greatly admire- come well out of this sorry saga.

    Gerry O’Hanlon, sj

  16. Iggy O Donovan says:

    One further little point to note. Those of us who love Italy have cause for celebration this weekend. On September 20 we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Rome becoming the national capital city. Thanks to God and Garibaldi our Church was freed from the shackles of temporal power, thus largely liberating us from that relic of medievalism the Papal States. I know some vestiges of it remain thanks to the 1929 deal with Mussolini. So I raise a little drop of Chianti this weekend to the heroes of 1870. No doubt it will be marked in our own embassy (Villa Spada) which Garibaldi once briefly used as his headquarters.

  17. Helen Oxenburgh-Lowe says:

    I am incensed that women are regarded as ‘creatures’ – and that we all have to be tender mothers!!!! So typical of the limited view these men have on half the human race.

    But well done Tony Flannery for standing up to these narrow view of the world men.

  18. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Iggy@16, I’ll join you, not in a Chianti, but in a Madeiran-like Sicilian Marsala, since that’s where Garibaldi’s Spedizione dei Mille landed from Genoa in 1860. His 1,000 Redshirts are variously said to have been 1,089, 1,044 or 1,027. A bit like how many fought in the GPO during Easter Week, maybe. It took them a full decade to get to Rome, only after many a compromise in swapping the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies for the Savoy Kingdom of Sardinia. So, to accompany your Chianti or Marsala you have a choice of biscuit: Bourbon chocolate creams, Savoy sponge, or Garibaldi flies’ graveyard type.

    But I fear you missed last Tuesday’s 10th anniversary of the launch of a more local Spedizione dei Mille – plotted at Athlone in June 2010 and launched at Portlaoise on 15th September. As with Garibaldi’s Redshirts, we may take it that the ACP Mille or Míle may be a round number for 1,027, 1,044 or even 1,089. It would be nice to see a few more of them on here for a change. I might even use the rest of my bottle of Marsala to drink a toast or ten – to the Pope if you will, but to the ACP Thousand first and the Pope afterwards. Is it time to re-launch the promised Risorgimento?

  19. Brendan Cafferty says:

    While it is hard for Tony to be excluded from his order to which he has given his lifetime to with distinction,at least he stands tall at the end. They cornered him again with demands he could not meet,and if he were allowed resume full ministry it would be on a sort of parole manner on their terms.I could never imagine him going back to where he left off,like the rest of us he is not getting any younger either? Maybe his mission now is to do what he is doing and effect change that way. I am disappointed in the Papacy of Pope Francis,maybe he is too old and cornered in to make any real change. I wonder are the people who waylaid Tony here happy,I suspect many of them are like the right wingers who turned up in Knock and Ballyhaunis recently,or who insist on getting communion on the tongue without any regard for others,demand Latin mass etc. They long for the ancient regime,and like the Bourbons too have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

  20. Colm Holmes says:

    September 23, 2020

    As Catholics working together for a renewed Church, we stand proudly in solidarity with Irish Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery in the face of continued threats and bullying from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) over his support for women’s ordination and the full dignity of LGBT+ persons.

    The Inquisition-era “oaths of fidelity” the CDF has demanded that Fr. Flannery sign directly oppose the Church’s long-held teachings about the primacy of the individual conscience, as expressed from St. Thomas Aquinas through the Second Vatican Council.

    The oaths require Fr. Flannery publicly assent to Church teaching that priestly ordination is reserved to men, that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered,” that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and that rejects “gender theory.” These kinds of outdated and insulting oaths are damaging to priests who are being asked to choose between their God-given conscience and the Church and its people, whom they are called to serve.

    Fr. Flannery’s advocacy represents beliefs that many Catholics share and long to hear more priests speak out loud. This attempt at suppression by the CDF is a stark reminder of the institution’s resistance to any sort of meaningful dialogue towards solutions to the many crises the Church faces today.

    While the CDF may attempt to prevent Fr. Flannery’s “return to public ministry,” what the congregation fails to see is that his ministry cannot be silenced, and in reality, they have not stopped him or all those who join him in following the Gospel message of equality.

    If Pope Francis is sincere about his openness to dialogue, his stated need for an increased role for women in the Church, and his words that LGBT+ people are beloved children of God, this letter and oaths of fidelity must be rescinded. Moreover, structures and processes that advance the vision of a dialogical and discerning Church, which Pope Francis promotes and many Catholics long for, must replace these coercive and abusive tactics.

    We call upon other members of the Catholic Church to show the same courage and fidelity to conscience as Fr. Flannery, and for pastoral leaders to walk fearlessly alongside the people of God on the journey to a more inclusive, loving Church.


    Supporting Organizations:

    A Critical Mass: Women Celebrating Eucharist

    Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church

    Call To Action

    Catholics for Choice

    Catholics for Choice Canada

    Chicago Women-Church




    Greater Cincinnati Women-Church

    New Ways Ministry

    Quixote Center

    RAPPORT: Renewing a Priestly People: Ordination Reconsidered Today

    Roman Catholic Womenpriests

    Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference

    Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

    Women’s Ordination Conference

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