A “grave injustice” has been perpetrated against Redemptorist priest Tony Flannery, and he ought to be restored to ministry, according to Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) and Lay Catholic Group (LCG).
Fr Flannery was suspended from public ministry by the Vatican in 2012 for publicly expressing support for women’s ordination and same-sex marriage as well as more liberal views on homosexuality.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, the ACP, which is a forum for Catholic priests, and the ACP said Fr Flannery was “effectively tried, judged and sentenced in his absence”. The groups added: “That verdict continues to this day.”
“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,” it said.
“The Association of Catholic Priests and the Lay Catholic Group 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.”
The groups said the issues raised by Fr Flannery in 2012 had now become mainstream topics of debate within the church.
“There is a growing presumption because he has been sidelined that he is persona non grata,” they said. “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.”