Priests support Flannery over challenging views


Ireland’s Redemptorists have said they are “deeply saddened at the breakdown in communication” between their colleague Fr Tony Flannery and Rome’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Fr Flannery was removed from public ministry last February by the CDF pending the outcome of its inquiries into views he expressed in the Redemptorists’ Reality magazine.

In a strong statement last night, the Redemptorists said “we do understand and support his efforts to listen carefully to and at times to articulate the views of people he encounters in the course of his ministry”.

They felt “immense regret that some structures or processes of dialogue have not yet been found in the church which have a greater capacity to engage with challenging voices from among God’s people, while respecting the key responsibility and central role of the CDF”.

Fr Flannery told a press conference in Dublin yesterday he had been threatened with excommunication by the CDF for refusing to recant his more liberal views on church teachings concerning women priests, contraception and homosexuality.

‘Reminiscent of Inquisition’

Actions against him by the CDF had been “frightening, disproportionate and reminiscent of the Inquisition”, he said

His response to CDF queries was not accepted last September and he was ordered not to attend the agm of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in November. He was on the ACP leadership team and attended the agm so as to support its independence, he said. He has stepped down temporarily from his ACP role and “taken advice under both canon and civil law” to defend his rights.

The ACP yesterday affirmed “in the strongest possible terms” its support for Fr Flannery. It believed he was being targeted as “part of a worldwide effort to negate the influence of independent priests’ associations in Austria, USA, Germany, France, Switzerland”.

Also at yesterday’s press conference was Fr Helmut Schuller of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative. He was “very surprised they [CDF] came down on Tony and on Ireland”. He criticised the “lack of basic rights and respect for personal conscience” in the church.