Tony Flannery – interview with Síle Seoige – podcast

Tony Flannery : Refusing to be Silence‪d‬

– an interview with Síle Seoige

This week my guest is Redemptorist priest and religious writer, Tony Flannery.

Tony has gained a reputation for being a controversial figure within the Catholic Church but when you examine what he talks about, he is simply speaking the truth.




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  1. Jack Madigan says:

    Kudos to Tony for his courage in continuing to speak out about the changes so many of us see as necessary and to the ACP for keeping up this forum where we can explore, discuss, and comment on issues related to spirituality and religious belief. Thanks Sile!

  2. Sean O’Conaill says:

    Riveting from start to finish. Sile’s own confession of disbelief in ‘original sin’ – and her inability to consider baptising her own son on those grounds – points up the hopeless inability of our own Irish magisterium to open up a frank discussion of that issue.

    As Tony pointed out the biblical texts themselves do not justify Augustine’s ‘take’ on that issue – the origin of the fixation with sexuality that still so bedevils us. Genesis instead emphasises our susceptibility to the unnecessary shame that accompanies self-consciousness and awareness of our own ‘smallness’. The well known connection of shame with invidious comparison – with not having what someone else has – is reflected in the Genesis suggestion that even to conceive of God or Gods was to become envious and ashamed.

    That incarnation could therefore have been part of the divine plan from the beginning – to assure us that this Creator understands this frailty and is NOT intent on shaming us – to the extent of being willing to relinquish divine status and accept the fate of someone radically shamed – then becomes easily conceivable.

    In itself the reluctance of the magisterium to admit the complete inadequacy of the Augustinian ‘take’ on original sin is itself proof of the power of fear of shame – of admitting the full scale of the theological mistake that led to Limbo and the concealment of the clerical abuse issue. It still bedevils our understanding of ‘holiness’ also by implying that celibacy is a more necessary ‘sign’ of holiness than integrity – a full accounting for the sins that flowed from clerical self-empowerment.

    Among those, obviously, was the daft and unjust scapegoating process that Tony Flannery’s honesty precipitated. When an Irish bishop can submit himself to a similar interrogation on the history of the Irish understanding of ‘original sin’ we will know that ‘synodality’ has been truly embraced by those who have come so lately to support it.

  3. Joe O'Leary says:

    Not sure what he means by women being pushed out of the gospels in the third century. As far as I know, the four canonical gospels were composed in the first century (possibly stretching into the second in the case of John) and there is no evidence of major alterations after that date. He may be referring to the gnostic gospels of Elaine Pagels fame.

  4. Joe O'Leary says:

    Yes, JP2 was received with joy by those who sighed for a restoration of the old church. He committed a terrible crime against a whole generation of Irish people who had been struggling to catch up with the spirit of Vatican II and were then told that what they had always thought was what they should continue to always think. He froze and paralysed their minds. There is a story to be told here, but few of the witnesses survive.

    Very wise of Tony to ask his confrere to weed out any anonymous letters.

  5. Joe O'Leary says:

    ‘If you paid attention to Deborah Birx’s body language while President Donald Trump held forth on the pandemic last year — touching her forehead as though she might have a fever, twisting her mouth as though she’d just tasted mold — you knew the day would come when she would seek public absolution. Birx doesn’t deserve our pardon, but it’s worth trying to understand the essential choice she made. In fact, “Birx’s Dilemma” ought to be taught in public policy schools until the end of time.’

    Just as Donald Trump was a test of integrity for many people, a test which most failed, so the CDF is a test of integrity for popes, bishops, and clergy, so that ‘the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.’ Because America never exorcised the ghosts of its racist past, Trump flourished, and because the church never exorcised the ghosts of the Inquisition, the CDF flourished. In both cases, the old failures, betrayals, and acts of cowardice that had allowed sheer evil to triumph in the past, were smoothly repeated in the present.

    Irish bishops and priests failed the CDF test by their massive and sustained silence when the CDF fomented prejudice against LGBT folk, causing them great injury at every level: to their civil rights, to their mental health, to their human happiness, to their relations with their families and with their church. They are failing it again by their silence with regard to the Kafkaesque treatment of Tony Flannery and of the late Sean Fagan among others.

    ‘What need have we of further proof?’ the cold-hearted bureaucratic high priests say as they rip their garments, while the low priests assent by their cowardly silence. Little did Annas and Caiaphas know that they would be judged forever on their treatment of the trouble maker from Galilee, that like Dr Birx they would become ‘a lesson for the ages.’

    Will Irish bishops and priests be remembered only for their bland acceptance of CDF cruelties, their falsely virtuous ‘Rome knows best’ attitude, which has left the people of God in the lurch again and again?

  6. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Of relevance perhaps is a short essay by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2003 for the centenary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission: Search
    Relationship between Magisterium and exegetes (
    He writes candidly of some Biblical scholars who fell foul of the Magisterium, and of positions initially enforced which were later reversed.
    Sadly, such reversals are painfully slow.

  7. John Anthony Waters says:

    I listened to the podcast and I would say that it is logical and realistic
    to strive to improve matters regarding church temporal rule for example
    in the matter of celibacy. It is illogical and unrealistic to profess
    selective belief in matters which are based on faith alone.

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