Tony Butler laments the “silencing” of Tony Flannery
Years ago Nikita Khruschev was lamenting the past errors and the decisions made by his predecessors. “You were part of the regime, why did not not speak then?” a voice called out from the crowded Douma. “Who said that?” shouted Khruschev…….. silence…. a long silence followed. “And thats exactly why i didn’t speak out” said Khruschev.
The word “scary” has been mentioned as a reaction to the “silencing ” of Tony. That’s exactly my reaction. I have lived with fears daily for years. Suffering an illness that brings fear and anxiety every day on awakening, every day – for hours, I am not not a brave person, I know fear in my daily life, daily for over 40 years. Call it ” free floating anxiety” or whatever, it is my unwanted companion, an interrupted message system from one messenger to another in my brain. I live with that but little did I think that the greatest real fear would come from The Church.
The message that has been sent by authorities in the Church into which both Tony and myself are baptised members is frightening, alarming and unnerving. I stand by Tony as my brother in baptism, I stand by him in our sharing in ordination. I stand by the courageous stance that “Reality” has over the years in asking questions, seeking truth and Gospel values with the charism of Ligouri reaching out to the world with the message of Jesus. I also respect those here who have written replies that do not agree with Tony. We can dialogue on these things.
But what frightens me so much is where dialogue is closed. Where silence and secrecy is a punishment my Church continues to use. Lessons will never be learned by those whose defence mechanisms are so well oiled. I affirm my faith in the Roman Catholic Church – not the Vatican catholic church – and publicy I stand by my brother Tony. I stand with my brother-priests in our present situation where there is a crisis in health, morale and collegiality.
We must return to our old Jersualems, to reconnect with the tender humanity of Jesus, where we meet with our brothers and sisters who are waiting for their stories to be heard, waiting to be shown the new vision that is possible, and yes even to quote Cardinal Martini ” to quarrel peacefully “. In this quest I am not afraid. I fear the Church that imposes silence, and I fear for that Church.