The ACP supports Tony Flannery
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) affirms in the strongest possible terms our confidence in and solidarity with Fr Tony Flannery as he strives to clear his name and we wish to protest against unjust treatment he has received from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The ACP supports Fr. Flannery in his efforts to resist the undermining of his integrity as an individual, a priest and a member of the Redemptorist Order.
The effort to depict him as ‘disloyal’ and ‘dissident’ is unwarranted and unfair, but also extremely ill-advised in the present pastoral context in Ireland.
The ACP is disturbed by the procedures evident in this case: the unwillingness to deal directly with the accused person; the injunction to secrecy; the presumption of guilt; the lack of due process. They suggest a callousness and even brutality that is in sharp contrast to the compassion of Jesus Christ.
The CDF argues that its’ instruction to secrecy protects the priest’s reputation. We believe that the priest himself should be the person to decide whether and with whom he should speak or whether he might decide to remain silent.
Fr. Flannery has spent his life in the service of the Church, attempting to spread the message of Jesus Christ. Yet, this same Church treats him disrespectfully, damaging his reputation and leaving him to contemplate an insecure and uncertain future.
It is surely a source of scandal that a body representing the Church, which is called to be a sign of the presence of God in the world, should act in a way that directly contradicts the call of Jesus Christ to treat others with respect.
There is a double standard at work when we preach the value and right of religious freedom to others and fail to honour them within our own Church.
The Church attempts to preach justice to the wider society while our own internal processes are lacking in justice.
We believe that the targeting of Fr Flannery is not about church teaching, his commitment to priesthood or ‘ecclesial communion’. We believe it is part of a worldwide effort to negate the influence of independent priests’ associations in Austria, USA, Germany, France, Switzerland and other places. The directive of the CDF, through the Redemptorist authorities, placing Fr Flannery under a formal precept of obedience not to attend the AGM of the ACP last November seems to confirm this view.
The emergence of our association in Ireland, the backing we have received from people and priests and the conviction with which we have argued for reform in line with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are all presented as a form of institutional disloyalty, a charge we vehemently reject.
Finally, we repeat that the ACP affirms in the strongest possible terms our confidence in and solidarity with Fr Flannery and we protest at the treatment he has received from the CDF and the pressure that body put on the Redemptorist authorities to implement their decisions.