09Apr ACP expresses solidarity with Fr Tony Flannery

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) is disturbed that Fr Tony Flannery, a founding member of the Association, is being ‘silenced’. We believe that such an approach, in its individual focus on Fr Flannery and inevitably by implication on the members of the Association, is an extremely ill-advised intervention in the present pastoral context in Ireland.

We affirm in the strongest possible terms our confidence in and solidarity with Fr Flannery and we wish to make clear our profound view that this intervention is unfair, unwarranted and unwise. The issues surfaced by the ACP since its foundation less than two years ago and by Tony Flannery as part of the leadership team are not an attack on or a rejection of the fundamental teachings of the Church. Rather they are an important reflection by an association of over 800 Irish priests – who have given long service to the Catholic Church in Ireland – on issues surfacing in parishes all over the country.

While some reactionary fringe groups have contrived to portray our association as a small coterie of radical priests with a radical agenda, we have protested vehemently against that unfair depiction. We are and we wish to remain at the very heart of the Church, committed to putting into place the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Accordingly we wish to register our extreme unease and disquiet at the present development, not least the secrecy surrounding such interventions and the questions about due process and freedom of conscience that such interventions surface. At this critical juncture in our history, the ACP believes that this form of intervention – what Archbishop Diarmuid Martin recently called ‘heresy-hunting’ – is of no service to the Irish Catholic Church and may have the unintended effect of exacerbating a growing perception of a significant ‘disconnect’ between the Irish Church and Rome.

Brendan Hoban   086 6065055 Sean McDonagh  087 2367612 P.J. Madden   087 2208882

74 Responses

  1. Noirin

    Well said. No mention though of Enda’s speech. Surely that’s the fear McVerry speaks of, of clergy agreeing publically with criticism of Rome. If Tony Flannery was to be silenced for speaking on the other issues, sure they’d have acted years ago and started with the Bishops! This isn’t about church teaching: it’s about the claim of Roman infallibility – for all its offices & men.

  2. Catherine E Walshe

    I wish you every success in implementing The Second Vatican Council and want to congratulate you on your humanitarian and brave support of Fr. Flannery. God bless.
    84 year old great-grandmother.

  3. Ciara

    Its true that the Irish church and its hierarchy have a lot of problems, and I don’t blame some priests (particularly in Dublin) for being disaffected with their bishop. However, I’m glad someone is finally stepping on Flannery’s hem. I think the objectives of the ACP are reactionary and entirely unhelpful. ACP says it wants to implement Vatican II, but I’m suspicious that the documents of Vatican II haven’t actually been read by the ACP! Read, for example, Chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium, and square that with the objectives of the ACP. For that matter, ACP says it wants “A re-evaluation of Catholic sexual teaching and practice that recognizes the profound mystery of human sexuality and the experience and wisdom of God’s people.” This suggests that the ACP hasn’t yet discovered the Theology of the Body that’s been floating around in the church for the last 30 years, which does exactly that.

    The final objective of the ACP could serve as a mission statement for the Unitarian Universalist Church: “Full acceptance that the Spirit speaks through all people, including those of faiths other than Christian and those of no religious faith, so that the breath of the Spirit will flow more freely.” ACP seems to take the view that all religious views are equally valid, and that “discernment of spirits” is out of vogue. The Catholic Church embraces all that is true in any religion…but it doesn’t affirm that all proposals of every religion are true. Might be good to re-read Dei Verbum, and Nostra Aetate, and subsequent magisterial teaching.

    As a woman who doesn’t feel oppressed by the church, I hope you’ll take my thoughts on board. I agree with the results of the apostolic visitation–dissent is not the way forward.

  4. Christine Gilsen

    The Association of Catholic Priests and Fr Tony Flannery have my full support and prayers. I am looking forward to “Towards an Assembly of the Irish Catholic Church” on 7th May.

  5. Chris

    I am a Limerick man and have heard Tony Flannery preach a few times. I no longer attend mass because I am not welcome. I live with my partner and going by church teaching I am living in sin so I am unwanted by the official church, even though we are together over 8 years. It used to sadden me so much to feel rejected like this until one day I realised what Jesus said himself. He said he came to call sinners. I am delighted to be counted among sinners as I no longer feel rejected because of Jesus’ acceptance of me. I do not see the institutional church as compassionate or merciful. It is pharisaical in its prounouncements and demands. I have my love and faith in Jesus and I follow my conscience and pray it is guided by God and the founder of my faith, Jesus. Churches will come and go but Jesus will stay the same.

  6. Sean (Belfast)

    Fr Flannery, Fr Moloney and Reality have brought this on themselves. It is blindingly obvious that they and the ACP are in serious and fundamental disagreement with the Church’s teaching on essential questions of ministry, ecclesiology and ethics. They have adopted theological stances that are closer to liberal Protestantism than they are to any recognisable form of Catholicism. Having brought the Irish Church into great disrepute and near collapse because of the sexual abuse of children, a minority of Irish priests seem determined to finish their course of self-destruction by abandoning any pretence to be in communion with the Holy See. I would suggest you find a fervent monastery to reflect on your behaviour before running off to Patsy McGarry to whine about ‘Rome’. It simply won’t wash any longer.

  7. Dualta

    There are a lot of issues to be addressed here and one of these is that of the priestly vow of obedience.
    If this is not maintained then everything else falls out of place. It is not fair to portray this as a silencing of Fr Flaannery. He is promoting views and teaching at odds with the Magisterium of the Church. At best, that creates confusion among practicing Catholics. If one element of Chruch teaching and dogma is legitimate to be attacked, then why not any other area.
    Worse than this, he may lead Catholics along the wrong path and away from the Church.
    By failing to recognise that there has to be an authorative voice in the Church, it is inevitable that it cannot be concluded that there is one true authentic Church. If you disagree with the teaching and canon of the Church then ultimately it is a different Church that one should be part of.
    Ultimately, by pressing the Church to change what God has instituted through the Tradition (not tradition) of the Church, Fr Flannery is calling for the unravelling of Church history- and what does that mean?
    Debate is fine and well but the promotion of disrespect for the Holy Father (including the denial of infallability)undermines the faith of many, the language used regarding the Vatican creates division, and the support for Enda Kenny’s speech, which included a malicious misrepresentation of the Pope’s words, sows discontent, confusion and division which is not good for the Church.

  8. Ruthaliencorn

    Delighted to see the ACP is standing behind the two men and doing it with such good heart and clarity of mind and purpose.

    Far from being a coterie of radicals at the edge, you are indeed at the heart of the Church. It is there, in your proper place, you give us hope and comfort.

  9. Theodore Fink

    ACP, you begin restoring my confidence in the catholic priests. With greatest respect thanks and God bless you all.

  10. Mary C

    Systems will canabalise to survive. The Gospel message doesn’t, even if its preacher has to be crucified.

  11. Ciara

    @ Chris…don’t forget what Jesus called the sinners to do…repent and believe the Gospel! Go and sin no more! Jesus is very inclusive that way. God bless.

  12. Jackie (Downpatrick)

    Just listened to Father Sean McDonagh defending the ACP position of support for Father Tony Flannery on RTE Radio 1. God bless you all. The expressed opinion that Father Flannery is ‘competent’ in his missionary capacity is loaded with the subjective bias of a friend. His stance (as noted above) would appear to be indicative of liberal protestantism. I would regard Father Flannery and the ACP ‘most competent’ if only they would recall their vows and accept the fundamentals of the magisterium and authority of our orthodox pope. Father McDonagh is right: souls in Irish schools are confused about matters such as sexuality, clerical celibacy and female ordination but they (and our wounded society)are not being helped by dissident priests whose priesthood appears lukewarm. The Irish Catholic people of God are crying out for shepherds in this increasingly secular world,who are commited to thier vocations and to bringing them the truth of catechetical doctrine. Please stop leading your flock toward the heretical cliff. With humble radical acceptance return to the true fold. Through God’s grace chastity, poverty and obedience are not that distant.

  13. Val

    I remember once watching a documentary about Padre Pio, he was unfairly forbidden to say Mass in public as a young priest because the Church was afraid of his large following and sceptical of his stigmata. Although Padre Pio was very saddened by this decision he did not kick up a stink for his rights but submitted to the order, he put his trust in God and followed his superiors. He is now as we know, St Pio. I think his example should guide any priest.

  14. Orla Carroll

    It is the voices of people such as Fr. Tony Flannery and the members of the ACP, which keep many disheartened believers within the church, allowing them to hope that the spirit of Vatican II is not dead, that the church can be reformed to become the humble, inclusive church its founder intended it to be.

  15. Joe Moran

    I’m not sure what Martin’s definition is of ‘a grass root catholic’ but I have always believed that I am a grass root catholic and I do not welcome the intervention that has demanded silence on issues which concern the lives of so many of us catholic people.

    I am hurt and dismayed that the church I love is acting like a cult.
    Respect for dialogue is a basic right.
    How else do we learn and grow as people and church?
    I weep to see that we have reached such a place where fear is now stronger than faith.

    It frightens me that such action could be done to an ordained minister, who has given 40 years to encouraging people to listen to the voice of God which emerged from Vatican 11.

  16. Bill

    I met Fr Tony when he delivered a Parish Mission last year. He preached a sermon on forgiveness which touched me very deeply. He displayed a great humanity and understanding of the human condition – just as Jesus did. Months later I met him in the monastery in Esker and he heard my confession – the first in many many years. The Church needs men and women like Tony Flannery he touched my life and I have no doubt many others. Please continue to support Fr Tony he deserves our support but this is about more than him it is about what kind of Church we want and need – the Church of Christ or the Church of Rome !

  17. Lee Cahill SMA

    I accept that Pope Benedict is our present day successor of Peter Simon bar Jonah. But I can’t leave it just like that. Benedict does share with Peter in a Jesus-given authority. But look: Peter was a flawed defender of Jesus (note Jesus’ reaction when Peter, in good faith, chopped off the ear of Malchus’ servant). Peter’s loyalty was flawed, (his public refusal to acknowledge his association with him). But, Jesus saw much more in Simon Peter than his awful failures…so humbly repented. Jesus did not take back from Peter that awesome trust He put in him, with awesome love. Even with that, in the early days of Jesus’ Spirit-filled Church, Peter made flawed judgments….and Paul had to get their co-leaders to come together to put Peter straight. There was an openness in facing the flaws in the leadership of Jesus’ Church. It was painful; but it was marked with honesty, openness, compassion and charity.
    None of these “failure” statements of Peter was ever looked on as “infallible”. They were ever so fallible.
    Fallibility and infallibility are not the issue behind present-day Peter’s “silencing” Fr Tony.
    But EVEN IF FR TONY WERE TO BE GUILTY OF WAYWARDNESS IN HIS STYLE AND EXPRESSION OF DIRECTING OUR POBAL DE (and, in no way can I see such being the case), WHERE IS THE OPENNESS, HONESTY, COMPASSION AND CHARITY OF CHRIST IN THE MANNER OF AN “OMERTA” ELEMENT OF OUR CATHOLIC CHURCH’S HANDLING OF THE ALTER CHRISTUS THAT IS TONY FLANNERY?!

  18. Padraic

    I offer this to demonstrate my solidarity with Fr. Tony Flannery and with all others in a similar position of seeking …

    There is no man, however wise, who has not at some period of his youth said things, or even lived in a way which was so unpleasant to him in later life that he would gladly, if he could, expunge it from his memory. But he shouldn’t regret this entirely, because he cannot be certain that he has indeed become a wise man — so far as any of us can be wise — unless he has passed through all the fatuous or unwholesome incarnations by which that ultimate stage must be reached. I know there are young people . . . whose teachers have instilled in them a nobility of mind and moral refinement from the very beginning of their schooldays. They perhaps have nothing to retract when they look back upon their lives; they can, if they choose, publish a signed account of everything they have ever said or done; but they are poor creatures, feeble descendants of doctrinaires, and their wisdom is negative and sterile. We cannot be taught wisdom, we have to discover it for ourselves by a journey which no one can undertake for us, an effort which no one can spare us.

    – Proust

  19. Brian de Búrca

    I am a priest and religious. I have not worked in Ireland since 1983, but for a long time I have admired Fr Tony Flannery, and had great hopes for the Irish Catholic Church when the Association of Catholic Priests was founded. I write from Lourdes to give my support and prayers.

  20. Soline Humbert

    Here are some pertinent comments on the issue of silencing in the church,from a presentation by Sr Jeannine Grammick (herself a victim of that unjust treatment).
    “The Second General Assembly of the 1971 Synod of Bishops produced a document entitled Justice in the World. It asserts that the Gospel mandates justice for the liberation of all people and that the Church first must be just itself in its institutional practices.
    It clearly teaches that there must be freedom of speech within the Church, as well as outside it. It says: The Church recognizes everyone’s right to suitable freedom of expression and thought. This includes the right of everyone to be heard in a spirit of dialogue which preserves a legitimate diversity within the Church (JW, 44).
    It is significant that, in a document of this high level of authority, the right to express dissenting views is legitimated.
    A higher authority than the CDF has validated free expression and public debate on controversial theological issues.
    Justice in the World clearly states that the freedom of expression that is meant is the freedom to express views that preserve a legitimate diversity in the Church; i.e., the articulation of theological arguments which differ from hierarchical teaching. Therefore, Justice in the World does not justify silencing as a means to control divergent views.
    In addition, Justice in the World tells us that this freedom to express ideas in a spirit of dialogue, which safeguards legitimate diversity, is also the right of priests, religious, bishops, cardinals and popes. In speaking of rights within the Church that must be preserved, the document says:
    No one should be deprived of his or her ordinary rights because he or she is associated with the Church in one way or another. (This includes) those who serve the Church by their labour, including priests and religious…(JW, 41).
    So the notion that Church representatives are obliged to uphold the party line, so to speak, is challenged. All the people of God have the right to express their opinion so that the Spirit of God may be made manifest through the entire community.”
    Not only have the people of God the right, but indeed the duty!

  21. Val

    I stumbled upon this website after reading articles in the Independent and Irish Times. I thought the likes of Patsy McGarry and RTE’s left, liberal stance were the Catholic church’s main critics, how naive was I. After reading many articles and comments on this site I am beginning to realise they are small fish.

    I would suggest to the Priests who run this site to actually read the critical comments of the people who are supporting them here. You are very much entitled to your opinion and the Vatican has been found wanting in dealing with lots of issues but at the end of the day, I ask you this, Are you a Roman Catholic or not?

    I have went through periods in my life when I stopped believing in God. I have read Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchen and found them very interesting. I have read many writings on the Protestant faith and admire their commitment to the bible but I never thought to myself, We’ll have to get on to the Pope to buy into this stuff. If you’re a Roman Catholic, be one, even if you’re a frail one like myself! Be one but be loyal.

  22. MARY O'MAHONY

    I was delighted to hear Fr. Sean McDonagh earlier on radio. I have never heard Fr. Tom Flannery preach, but my friends who have were positively impressed by his sincerity and genuine belief in the teaching of Jesus Christ and in our Catholic Church. I commend the Association of Catholic Priests for their courage and will pray they be led by the Spirit in their search for truth, honesty and discourse among members of our beloved Church, Dia is Mhuire Duit

  23. Richard O'Donnell

    I fully support Fr. Tony Flannery and the ACP.

    It does not matter to me, and I suspect most Irish people, what the Magisterium think and teach. I say this with sadness not arrogance. The Roman Catholic Church leadership, with a few exceptions, through its words and actions, has shown us that it has an equal lack of interest in what most Irish people think. Their lack of interest will continue, as long as the Irish people continue to contribute financially to the Church, which for some reason which I do not understand, they do. But the Church leadership’s thinking probably does matter to Fr Tony and most of the ACP membership. They are good priests and true followers of Christ. This is what makes the Church’s leadership’s actions here so sad for all concerned.

    The silver lining, of course, is that whatever Fr Tony writes from now on will have a much wider readership than heretofore. History has taught us that silencing a Roman Catholic writer has rarely stopped them writing or being read. “Above the Pope as an expression of the binding claim of Church authority stands one’s own conscience, which has to be obeyed first of all, if need be against the demands of church authority.” (Joseph Ratzinger, 1968). History has also taught us that one of the most effective ways these writers have of ensuring a wide readership is to have their writings banned by their Church. The Holy Spirit, sometimes, has a funny way of having his/her voice heard.

    It would also be some consolation to think that the Church leadership was acting out of its love for Christ. Sadly, history again has taught us that this is rarely so.

  24. Mal-rev

    Like many others from Scotland, with Irish heritage our faith was sustained by priests, mainly from Ireland. Those times are gone, but I for one support the position of ACP.
    What is so contradictory of discussiing celibacy as a requirement for holy orders, for example, when it already exists within the ‘anglican’ Ordinariate?
    I fully support Tony Flannery and the members, and supporters of ACP.

  25. Pól

    Sad and all as the occasion is, it is hugely uplifting to read many of the comments on the most recent posts on this site. The sense of solidarity with the true Christian mission of the Church, and the still resonating echoes of the hopes of Vatican II are a revelation to me.

    Cards on the table: I am a Catholic Atheist/Agnostic in the Françoise Sagan sense of that term. But I am not beyond being inspired by the insights and courage of others.

    May the force be with you.

  26. Mairtin

    Dualta, you said (No 7 above):

    “There are a lot of issues to be addressed here and one of these is that of the priestly vow of obedience.
    If this is not maintained then everything else falls out of place.”

    So do you reckon it was correct for bishops and priests to obey the Vatican’s will and cover up the abuse of children?

  27. joannes sacredotus

    Remember those words spoken long ago: ” Do You promise obedience to me and my successors”? They are still valid now as they were then. As priests we have to accept the cross, like Padre Pio, like Don Bosco and only in this are we sure of experiencing true happiness, not in the approval of the likes of the media, but of God. I shall pray for your needs.

  28. A Rural Priest

    It’s all very well for the ACP to invoke Vatican II, but if Fr Flannery is under investigation for what he has been preaching about contraception, one has to ask whether he has been faithful to that same council which teaches VERY CLEARLY the immorality of contraception and the right of the magisterium to teach on these matters. See Gaudium et Spes 51.

    Likewise, the ACP statement does not seem to respect the council’s teaching about the magisterium of the Church as set out in Lumen Gentium & Dei Verbum.

    Let’s be frank here… The faithful have a right to expect their Catholic priests to teach Catholic doctrine. Priests promise to do as much. If a priest cannot teach in harmony with the magisterium, then surely he should question whether he should be presenting himself as one commissioned to teach, or whether he should have the courage to step aside from that role.
    Whilst there must be theological debate & discussion, there must also be a point where what one says no longer falls within the pale of Catholic teaching and there must be an authority to regulate that – that authority rests with the Pope & Bishops, according to the hierarchical charisms given them by the Holy Spirit. (Another teaching of Vatican II)

    Does this mean the CDF is infallible? Certainly not. However, it has a job to do and my prayer for Fr Flannery is that his engagement with this investigation will assist him in his vocation as a Catholic teacher and a son of St Alphonsus. I wish Fr Flannery well, but I cannot add my voice to those who condemn this investigation or who choose to privilege a nebulous “spirit” of a Council rather than what the Council actually teaches.

  29. Harry

    The Association of Catholic Priests cannot pretend to be an innocent bystander in all of this. Some writings and pronouncements of some of its leaders have been unjustly critical of the present and previous popes and even at odds with the RC Cathecism.
    The support for the Taoiseach’s speech cannot be justified since even the Taoiseach himself was unable to substantiate what he had said.
    The real victims are the ordinary faithful who are left confused and disillusioned by obvious discord and the raising of disobedience to the status of virtue.
    Priests have always had some criticisms of Church administration and teachings but knew the value of unity and obedience. The ACP is a new departure, just as were many previous schisms.

  30. Sean McDonagh

    This quotation from the writings of Fr. Ratzinger expresses exactly what i and many others believe.

    “Over the pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there stands one’s own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirements of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which is the last resort, is beyond the claims of external social groups, even the official church, and also establishes a principle in opposition to totalitarianism”. (Fr Joseph Ratzinger (1967): Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II).”

  31. Martin

    It is vital to have a properly formed conscience. The same Joseph Ratzinger also had this to say about conscience.
    >>>
    ” It is thus an oversimplification to put a statement of the magisterium in opposition to conscience. In such a case I must ask myself much more. What is it in me that contradicts this word of the magisterium? Is it perhaps only my comfort? My obstinacy? Or is it an estrangement through some way of life that allows me something which the magisterium forbids and that appears to me to be better motivated or more suitable simply because society considers it reasonable? It is only in the context of this kind of struggle that the conscience can be trained, and the magisterium has the right to expect that the conscience will be open to it in a manner befitting the seriousness of the matter. If I believe that the Church has its origins in the Lord, then the teaching office in the Church has a right to expect that it, as it authentically develops, will be accepted as a priority factor in the formation of conscience.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Keynote Address of the Fourth Bishops’ Workshop of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, on “Moral Theology Today: Certitudes and Doubts,” February 1984).

    In the same address, Cardinal Ratzinger explains that, “Conscience is understood by many as a sort of deification of subjectivity, a rock of bronze on which even the magisterium is shattered….Conscience appears finally as subjectivity raised to the ultimate standard.”

  32. Ciara

    Sean M.,

    It might be good for you to balance the 1967 Ratzinger with the 2005 Ratzinger. This is from his “Dictatorship of Relativism” homily, and I think it would help you.

    “How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking… The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves – thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth. Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (cf Eph 4, 14). Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and “swept along by every wind of teaching”, looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today’s standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”

    By my read, the ACP has become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    God bless, C

  33. Chris (England)

    In response to A Rural Priest “Whilst there must be theological debate & discussion..”
    Surely, the problem is that the present hierarchy does not want theological debate and discussion and anyone who asks questions is regarded as “dissenting”. Their attitude is that unless you agree with what we say i.e. be a “yes man” ( and women don’t matter at all), you cannot “discuss” issues. This is not the way to work with adults – nmore so fellow members of The People of God.

  34. Mary Burke

    May I humbly suggest that Fr Flannery treats CDF with the level of intelligence it deserves: continue writing Father in a local or national newspaper! Move the goal posts!

  35. Máire

    Ciara and Martin, I do not see any evidence that ACP’s or Fr. Flannery’s positions represent either relativism or the “deification of subjectivity.” Specifically where do you find such leanings in the ACP’s articles on reform? Benedict XVI has over-used that ad hominem, which accuses reform-minded Catholics of seeking to serve only their own desires in disregard of Church tradition. Merely to label reformers “relativists” or “subjectivists” is no argument or evidence whatever. Important reasons, encompassing both moral principles and the results of empirical study, have been cited by ACP members, by Ex-Bishop Morris of Toowoomba, by Austrian and American reform groups, and by several theologians for suspending the discipline of priestly celibacy and for admitting women and married men to Holy Orders.
    .

    If the Curia had even one adequate reply to the arguments for reform, it would have replied and would not have needed to impose censorship on anyone.
    .

    We have a moral duty to respect calls for reform as issuing from conscience, and to answer such calls, rather than to silence them or label them self-serving. Conscientious questioning and open discussion rest on the primacy of natural law, God’s law, which forbids us to obey any human authority that is out of harmony with God’s law. Silencing the voice of conscience in the name of blind obedience demeans the most important of the Creator’s gifts to humanity.

  36. Mary Burke

    joannes sacredotus (sic), it would help to provide some nuance in your understanding of obedience. It’s not a military or party political concept, where there is one line emanating from the top down to be held by all.
    Theologically, the virtue of obedience is an ecclesial service. Its focus is on the discernment of spirits, its method, the activity of listening.
    In practice it will involve evaluating the official line on any particular issue in the light of divine revelation and contemporary human experience.
    Of the two issues related to this situation, the first, the ban on artificial birth control has been rejected by the vast majority of Christians. Concerning the second, the admission of women to the sacrament of orders (diaconal, presbyteral and episcopal) its day has arrived. There is no going back. This is the sense of what Christ’s faithful believe today.

  37. stan mellett

    Stan Mellett C.Ss.R.
    April 11th 2012.
    I recall only the bare bones of the story. A man arrives in heaven spick and span without stain or wrinkle. God looks him over with a kindly eye. God asks “where are your wounds?” The man replies that he has no wounds. And God asks “Was there nothing in your life or in your world to fight for?” In His glorified resurrected body Jesus scars and wounds were not eliminated. He boldly showed them to Thomas and the disciples and surely to the Father.
    The censure of Tony Flannery and Reality Magazine is surely a blow and wound that must be keenly felt since both are so committed to the truth of the gospel rooted in the Church – the People of God. In the light of etrnity, in my opinion, they are wounds to be proud of. I wonder what wounds I will have to show! Mercifully Jesus did it for us all. Tony and Reality continue it for me. Thank you. Rest assured of support and prayer.

  38. Fr John Wotherspoon

    Many people around the world are following the latest developments in Ireland.

    The above ACP statement and other stories are linked at
    http://www.v2catholic.com – a site begun to promote and defend the vision of Vatican II in an increasingly anti-Vat II climate.

    Jesus, please bless the ACP with continued courage and wisdom
    to speak up for justice and truth!

  39. john o'sullivan

    Where may we find Jesus making mention of, or even alluding to the “magisterium of the church”?

  40. Chris Gardiner

    If I was Tony or gerry I’d keep writing. What can rome do shoot them in the head. To hell with all this roman politics and obedience crap. The people are more important than roman dictators. Minister to the people in good conscience and keep writing. Why be afraid of rome? People are giveing Rome too much power over their lives. Ignore their oppressive dictates. The church in ireland should come together and say to rome ye do not know our people and their problems and concerns so butt out. Yes I hear ye saying oh this poor fool hasn’t a clue how the church operates and what about Obedience and infallability and primacy and magesterium and all these other usless titles that have no bearing on peoples everyday lives. thats why people are turning away from the church. All these theological and doctrinal arguments are just not relevant in peoples lives. The chosen few (intheir own eyes) will hide behind these words use them as a screen to wedge between ordinary people and what they see as (educated) people. Jesus never alienated anyone with church speak. Otherwise nobody would have followed him. While people here are busy debating all this ordinary people are getting on with their lives and its all irrelevant to them.

  41. Jim Stack

    My layman’s reply to John O’Sullivan is “Thou art Peter and upon this rock…”. On the other hand, I am not aware that Jesus ever said to the disciples that dissent was good, even well-intentioned dissent. Consider e.g. what Jesus said to Peter when Peter wanted just to make things easier “get behind me Satan”.

    A big thank you to “A Rural Priest” (28) in particular, for his balanced and fair contribution.

    One final thought for the ACP in general. You keep referring to liberal Catholics. What about traditional Catholics? We have supported you with our prayers and our financial contributions, and we have assisted you in our parishes. We have tried to remain faithful when others left the Church in droves. In return, in so far as you recognise our existence at all, you treat us with contempt.

  42. Val

    I think it is time for me to eat a little humble pie, in an earlier post I made a judgement out of ignorance, since then I have been doing a lot of research into Fr Flannery and others Priests and their writings. Today I read a piece by Seán Fagan, a chapter from a book called “Spiritual abuse”, I think it was one of the most enlightening pieces I have ever read, full of compassion and respect. If this is the kind of stuff that is trying to be silenced, I offer Fr Flannery my full support.

  43. Ciara

    Máire,
    You said, “Merely to label reformers “relativists” or “subjectivists” is no argument or evidence whatever.”

    I didn’t mean to label–I was responding to Sean M, who implies that Joseph Ratzinger argued (in 1967) for an absolutization of conscience. That’s what radical individualism/subjectivism is. When one’s own conscience becomes the source of “truth for me”, which might be different from someone elses, (or indeed, objective truth) then that’s relativism. That isn’t what Ratzinger 1967 was advocating.

    The ACP’s expressed objectives indicate that it wants a revision of the church’s teaching on morality, sexuality, priesthood, and etc. If the Catholic Church were just “making this up” I suppose it could revise these teachings, but in fact…..the church is only passing on what it received from Christ. The Church is the guardian of a message from God, not God’s editor.

    @John, “magisterium” is based on the word “magister” or “teacher”, so its rooted in the great commission (Mattthew 28:18) where Jesus gave his disciples the authority to teach in his name. “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me–now you go, and teach them all that I’ve taught you.” Hence, when the Church teaches, it does so with the authority of Jesus, and the help of his Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus knew exactly what he was getting into when he chose sinful men to carry out this mission, and that he can keep his promises about the help of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, I’d be long gone!

    God bless.

  44. marie doyle

    I support Frs Flannery and Maloney in their search for justice and truth and in their efforts to grow and renew this pilgrim church of ours.It is people like them who keep me, a lowly member of the laity,still believing and still attending. They have also brought me back to Reality which I used to read regularly many years ago. Thank you.

  45. john mcevoy

    J. Ratzinger wrote in 1969: “Criticism of papal declarations will be possible and necessary to the degree that they do not correspond with Scripture and the Creed, that is, with the belief of the Church. Where there is neither unanimity in the Church nor clear testimony of the sources, then no binding decision is possible, if one is formally made, then its preconditions are lacking, and therefore the question of its legitimacy must be raised.”
    I believe that Tony Flannery and Gerard Moloney were acting, rightly in my view, under the view expressed by Ratzinger in this quotation. Perhaps Cardinal Levada should repair to a monastery and return himself to “sentire com ecclesia.”
    I offer my full support to Tony Flannery, Gerard Moloney and the many many more theologians who are treated so shamefully by our Church. A little more humility, and a little less “creeping infallibility” in the light of the current handling of the child sex abuse scandals, from the Vatican would be more in order.

  46. Robbi

    Well done for this brave stance! The Vatican and its henchmen should respect the Irish Catholic Church, my Church, as an integral part of their being. The Vatican should evolve and learn from Churches in other nations, rather than stick to its own agenda. The Redemptorists played such an important role in my life. Not Liberal, not Conservative, simply thoughtful and humane. Fr. Flannery has the traits of a great bishop, and an outspoken, progressive cardinal.

  47. john mcevoy

    J. Ratzinger wrote in 1969: “Criticism of papal declarations will be possible and necessary to the degree that they do not correspond with Scripture and the Creed, that is, with the belief of the Church. Where there is neither unanimity in the Church nor clear testimony of the sources, then no binding decision is possible, if one is formally made, then its preconditions are lacking, and therefore the question of its legitimacy must be raised.”
    I believe that Tony Flannery and Gerard Moloney were acting, rightly in my view, under the view expressed by Ratzinger in this quotation. Perhaps Cardinal Levada should repair to a monastery and return himself to “sentire cum ecclesia.”
    I offer my full support to Tony Flannery, Gerard Moloney and the many many more theologians who are treated so shamefully by our Church. A little more humility, and a little less “creeping infallibility” in the light of the current handling of the child sex abuse scandals, from the Vatican would be more in order.

  48. Abban Murphy

    I notice that the good Fr Tony Flannery has been silenced and advised by Rome to go to a monastery and “pray and reflect” on his situation.
    This was the same “sentence” that was given to the notorious abuser of the young and founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr Marcial Maciel.
    Does the Vatican really think that treating them in the same way serves justice?

  49. Fintan Sheerin

    I have read many of the comments on this page from those supporting the ACP and those who consider that these priests have veered far off course. All have obviously reflected deeply on their faith and reached their own considered perspective. I too have reflected on my faith and I recall that Jesus, in the gospel was asked, ‘Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.’ Jesus replied: ‘you must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me.’ The so-called ‘dissenting’ priests and many so-called ‘dissenting’ laity that I know are good people whose lives and actions are characterized by the signs of the Spirit – faith, hope, love, charity; indeed, they live their lives in Jesus’ name. He would not silence them or stop them. I support them wholeheartedly – Tony Flannery, Sean Fagan, Colm Kilcoyne, Iggy O’Donovan, liberal laity and ACP – as well as to those priests and laity who see Jesus in a more orthodox Roman Catholic way.

  50. Martin

    Chris (England): Have you ever heard an Irish bishop offer a stout and intellectual explanation of any Catholic teaching in public? I haven’t. Credit to the ACP: at least they talk. They talk a lot. They write a lot. They believe in their cause. But from our bishops…. *tumbleweed* Do our bishops really believe? Who can say?
    John: Jesus said to His Apostles: He who hears you, hears me. The teaching office of the Church is the Magisterium – Pope and bishops in communion with him.
    Máire: The Church has issued official teaching documents on all the hot button issues. We must study them and accept their conclusions as the will of Christ Himself.

  51. Adrian Egan, C.Ss.R.

    Fr. Flannery to spend some time in a remote monastery? Sure, you couldn’t get one more remote than the one he already lives in :-)

  52. stan mellett

    Our Faith Story as formulated in the Apostles’ Creed is not in question. Father Tony Flannery or Reality Magazine freely and joyfully sign up to each and every article. They have always done so and do so today. I cannot understand why discussion of, say,manditory celibacy the prospect of married priests is forbidden or why any of us would be ‘silenced’ if we asked that this subject be put on the agenda. At the end of the discussion we may well conclude that present practice is the better option. Let us disccus these questions with mutual respect for the equality of all the Baptised. I give thanks for my faith and I cherish deeply my ecclecial community. I long for a governance that would promote communion and facilitate good order without resorting to destructive secrecy or fear. For this I pray.

  53. Dairne Mc Henry

    I am appalled but not surprised at the Vatican response to Fr. Tony Flannery and Fr. Gerry Moloney. As one of the people of God I am deeply angered by this strategy of silencing employed by the hierarchy in Rome.
    I have two questions: 1) apart from publicly expressing our anger, is there anything else that we can do to offer resistance to such an unjust system? 2) What exactly is entailed in the priests’ vow of obedience? Absolute obedience at all times? Can anyone point me to an article in Canon Law or the part of the Rite of Ordination which gives the format of this vow?

  54. Joe Moran

    I have so much admiration for the colleagues of Tony and Gerard, who have so bravely spoken out at this time and let us know the truth about how so many priests feel about this decision by Rome to silence their brother priests.
    It’s what we would expect from the Redemptorist family yet we know too it would be so much easier to just stand back and watch.
    I have no doubt that fear is the over riding emotion that most priests had on hearing this development. As one said to me today ‘it’s easier say nothing than draw that crowd in Rome down on you’
    “Be not afraid’ how often we have heard Fr Tony and the Redemptorists sing that in our churches.
    Let us pray they can continue to live it.

  55. Patrick O Sullivan

    Pat O Sullivan/Anne Staunton (Brazil)
    Tony,
    We’ve just read two stories about you these days in the Irish Times and we are appalled. We’ve seen you, occasionally, on TV on our trips to Ireland over the last few years and always wanted to congratulate you especially on your contribution to the building of the ACP and your obvious conviction of its importance for the future of the Irish Church. With all the problems that the Irish Church has had to endure over the last few years – from this distance, it seems never ending! – it was a breath of fresh air to witness your conviction.
    No doubt you’ll take the opportunity to reflect on this situation and we’ll all be looking forward to some crystal clear analyses of what’s behind it. We’re with you in solidarity and hope that you continue to show the affirming light of your convictions. And give our support to Gerry Maloney and the Reality team.
    (a little private joke, Tony – Paddy Fitz would say they finally caught up with Holden Caulfield!)

  56. Marian

    Absolutely give full support to Fr Flannery and Fr Maloney and all who support their cause. The Vatican is not beyond criticism. Might I suggest respectfully that the US Cardinal take himself to a monastery to consider his position. The real men in this story, the men of worth, are not to be found either in Vatican circles or the US – these two Irish priests may be placed among the great ethical men (who are few) of history.

  57. Pauline Uí Dhuibhir

    Recent events surrounding the silencing of Frs Flannery and Maloney by the Vatican powers are deeply disturbing. I am at a loss to understand what can possibly be so threatening to our faith about expressing a view that articulates genuine and thoughtful reflections. Why has the Church chosen to be an un-listening Church? Why assume that only the Magisterium can know the truth? Why actively suppress the voice of a genuine seeker of truth? How can we make room for the Sacred in this struggle we find ourselves in?

    As I see it, the Vatican asserts that it speaks the one truth. It speaks with authority on a range of issues and holds that all members conform to that view. However, it is its prohibition of the expression of any alternative views that is particularly worrying. This attitude of certitude and domination within the church is in my view crippling our capacity to grow and flourish spiritually. It diminishes our understanding of a compassionate loving Christ. It also diminishes our humanity. Through this oppression, the church is failing utterly to recognise the wonder, mystery and unfathomable dimensions of love in our human experiences. To deny those experiences is to live in isolation from the divine. Church control is in my view attempting to deny our birthright through the repression of our true divinity. We cannot possibly live as we are all called to live, with integrity and love through the expression of our true selves, if oppression and control prevails. The expression of the true self is being beleaguered by a church set on manipulation and power; a church either unwilling or unable to listen.

    As Christians, we believe that each human being carries a spark of the Divine within. True spirituality cannot be a search for control or perfection, but springs from a desire to come to know the Divine light within, to seek divine union and to bring our light, our truth and our gifts into the world. What are we to do when our attempts to honour the divine within are in conflict with a church with different answers? Are we to deny our Divine spark? How can we possibly grow in barren soil, where respectful discussion is forbidden, where inner truth is silenced? What hope for the future of this church?

    The words of Thomas Aquinas are offered as inspiration. Oh that the Church might take heed also.
    We must love them both
    Those whose opinions we share
    And those whose opinions we reject
    For both have labored in the search of Truth
    And both have helped us in the finding of it.

    Thomas Aquinas, 13th c

  58. Joe O'Leary

    Celibacy and contraception are shibboleth issues. They mark an electric fence around the catholic compound. We all run about like little boys seeing what we can get away with until the spotlight falls on us from the control tower. We pipe up “celibacy” or “women priests” feeling gleeful is no “Halt!” or “Achtung!” rings out in the night. We run up against the fence, spending mental and rhetorical energies in vain, which is just how the system wants it. Meanwhile true and deep topics for discussion remain untouched. It’s a wonderful formula for control of a mighty crowd of 1,200,000,000. China is only trailing after us!

  59. David Smith, MSC

    I fully support the statement of the Association of Catholic Priests and its solidarity with Fr Tony Flannery.

  60. bernie

    My full support to Fr Tony Flannery at such a crucial time in the Church in Ireland, and looking forward to meeting in May.

  61. Sarah

    I totally support the work and voices of Fr. Flannery and Fr. Moloney, who I know to be deeply committed men of the church and who are brave enough to voice the thoughts and views of many many Catholics, who are tired of the oppressive nature of the hierarchy within the Vatican. May God bless them both – the truth will out!

  62. Tom Healy

    It is vital to maintain solidarity in the face of the attempts to silence dissent. All Christians should support each other. ‘Error’ does have rights even among God’s Ministers. I would rather be in ‘error’ with the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the people. The Holy Spirit is every where and no human being should presume to know the full and complete story and mind of God. We must listen and learn from each other and that includes our eldest brother in Rome.

  63. Pat Moore

    At a meeting of the Kerry Ass. of Priests, held in Killarney on 13/04/12, dismay and concern was felt and expressed at the treatment of Fr Tony Flannery.
    As priests we have long known and valued Fr Flannery’s mission work in the diocese and his contribution to the faith life of the people of the diocese.
    On a daily basis we are meeting concerned lay people who are surprised and disturbed at what they would consider the harsh treatment of a man who brought God alive amoung them.

  64. ANNE DORIS

    I may not agree absolutely with everything Fr. Flannery says. However, as a committed Catholic, I have despaired of late at the arrogance of Church authorities particularly in regard to the recent changes to the liturgy of the Mass. That these should have been introduced in such an arbitrary, high-handed manner without proper explanation or consultation with the laity beggars belief. In my opinion and that of my extended family, friends and colleagues these changes are nothing more than an exercise in semantics. That so much time, effort and finance should have been involved in such a meaningless exercise at a time when Church authorities should be openly and honestly dealing with real and serious issues is a measure of their detachment from the body of the Church.

  65. Sharon Willan

    Thank you for your courageous support of Father Flannery. We need more priests to stand together against this climate of fear and oppression that has flooded the church.

    Vatican ll was a breath of fresh air that has been stifled. The forward thinking priests, bishops, cardinals of the 60′s and the vibrant liturgies, music, and spirituality need to be revived in accordance with the scientific reality of our current time frame. It is not enough to embrace Vatican ll we must go further.

    I only wish Canadian priests would join as you have and speak out together in the spirit of Jesus who condemned the hierarchy of his day for their lack of compassionate leadership.

    Please keep strong and continue your work to eliminate “transgenerationally inherited religious dysfunctionality that presents itself as orthodoxy.”

    Sharon Willan

  66. MM

    Well said Tom Healy No. 62 above. “The Holy Spirit is every where and no human being should presume to know the full and complete story and mind of God.” Not even the Holy Brother and his/our civil servants in Rome. How much of what is paraded there is just a terrible presumption before God. We need to de-mystify the role of the Curia – not just for our sakes, but for theirs as well.

  67. Máire

    Ciara (and Martin, who wrote, “Máire: We must study [official Church teachings] and accept their conclusions as the will of Christ Himself”), you seem to think any questioning of the human voice of authority constitutes disobedience to Christ. I cannot agree. The moral law, or law of God, is primary and objective, and it commands us never simply to obey when conscience compels us to question the teachings of human authorities. There’s no relativism or subjectivism at work when one’s conscience is in accord with moral law, which comes down to us from ancient times, and no intermediary between conscience and moral law.
    .
    Writing in the fifth century B.C., Sophocles had his heroine Antigone defend herself before King Creon of Thebes: “Zeus did not announce [Creon's] laws to me. / And Justice living with the gods below sent no such laws for men. I did not think anything which you proclaimed strong enough to let a mortal override the gods and their unwritten and unchanging laws. / They’re not just for today or yesterday, but exist forever, and no one knows where they first appeared” (Ian Johnston’s trans. http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/Sophocles/Antigone.htm ) The proper ritual for the dead may change over time and from one culture to another, but the divine “Justice” that compelled Antigone to bury her brother’s body is eternal, unchanging, understood by all who have the capacity to reason, and equally compelling for all. This is the same concept given many centuries later by Pope Paul VI: “the highest norm of human life is the divine law– eternal, objective and universal– whereby God orders, directs and governs the entire universe and all the ways of the human community by a plan conceived in wisdom and love” (7 Dec. 1965). And it is the same that Joseph Ratzinger explained in 1967.
    .
    If Jesus “gave his disciples the authority to teach in his name” in Matthew 28:18, he did not give them the authority to impose their teachings on anyone nor to deprive any of freedom of conscience or speech. Vatican II made this point clearly, and Dignitatis Humanae cites the next line after the one Ciara quoted from Matthew 28 to support the point: “On their part, *all* men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.” Pope Paul VI understood that “The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power.” Freedom from coercion or pressure is a right “even to those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed.”
    .
    We cannot have it both ways: either we have, all of us, a moral obligation imposed by natural law to seek the truth, to add to it when necessary, and to correct error, or we have an obligation to obey human authority without question or debate. Jesus guided his disciples and followers in the direction of the freedom of the children of God, never toward censorship or unquestioning obedience. “In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious” (Dignitatis. Hum.).
    .
    The paragraph by Joseph Ratzinger, quoted by Sean McDonagh, follows this reasoning in Dignitatis Humanae. While PPaul VI also maintained that “the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church,” let’s keep in mind that the members of the ACP ARE Church, as are we all, and that the ACP has not rejected any teaching that I can recognize as “certain doctrine of the Church” or doctrine taught by Christ, who listed no qualifications for the priesthood and said little about sexual morality besides condemning adultery and divorce. If I am mistaken about this, then I rely on john mcevoy’s point that error is never binding and that all teaching must be open to correction by re-reception of scripture and by further study, together with the sensus fidelium.

  68. Héctor Ascorra

    I am a franciscan friar. I´m not irish. I´m not priest. But I can feel the deep tension away from living in Europe. Although we are not so organized, know that our hearts feel the same and pray for you. Force! Later, we can not retreat!

  69. Albert Mc Gettrick CSsR

    Tony, It can hardly be true that they´re building a hermitage for you in Esker! I just wanted to offer prayerful support at this difficult time for you and Gerry and the ACP. I´m sure the many fine tributes pouring in from people you´ve deeply touched in your priestly ministry is very heartening. I feel privileged to be part of that immense group of people who have contributed their opinions on this site over the past while. The richness, profundity, and diversity of opinions expressed, surely shows how important and beneficial it is to be promoting a process of dialogue on all the burning issues of the day for our church and society. I get a feeling that there is something bigger than all of us going on here. What a pity to see fear taking over and trying to artificially hinder this effort. As Joe Moran reminded us in his contribution a few days ago, we redemptorists have so often, these last decades, sang with the people of God “Do not be afraid” Now perhaps, more than ever, we need to cultivate that spirit amongst us, as we try to follow the Spirit of the risen Jesus, leading us into a better understanding of one another and of the complex issues that face our church and world.
    Albert Mc Gettrick
    Redemptorist Community
    Aracati
    Brasil

  70. Anne Kerrigan

    The Association of Catholic Priests and Father Flannery have my full support
    Be strong
    My prayers are with you
    An American Catholic Grandma

  71. mark hanrahan

    I’m 54. My childhood was destroyed by “Christian brothers”. I left Ireland at 16 and never went back. Now I hear there will be no priests in Ireland by 2032, and assuming the brothers have all died off by then, perhaps, if I live that long, I will some day be able to return home and not feel ashamed.

    Mark

  72. gerard toomey

    Go Tony, don’t back down. I as a child went to the novena with my mother Essie toomey RIP and I was always impressed with your honest and sincere sermons in Limerick. We are with you, best of luck.

  73. Hugh

    Tony, rather than this event diminishing your role as a true priest, it may give it truer meaning than ever. May you be strong as you find yourself representing what I believe to be a sane and sensible approach to catholicism against anachronistic and paranoid leadership.

  74. Hugh

    Mark, thats awful to hear. Ireland has lost out, I suspect for the last 38 years.