31Jan All the documents of the Tony Flannery case are here

The CDF expressed concerns about four quotes taken from articles I had written in Reality Magazine. They imposed certain sanctions on me, and also, in order to make sure a priest who has committed the delict of heresy ‘irregular for the exercise of orders received’, while I realised the seriousness of my situation, sent a document which contained the following paragraph:

“The Church’s canon law (c. 1044) callscanon 1364 says that ‘a heretic … incurs a latae sentientiae excommunication’. Before imposing the sanctions provided for in the law, it is the practice of the CDF to take steps to restore a priest to the faith, and to ensure that he is not in a state of contumacy regarding the position(s) he may have taken. Only should these remedies fail would the canonical penalties be required”

After a period of reflection I wrote the following statement and sent it to the CDF:
Since some concerns have been raised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith over possible interpretations of articles I have written in the past few years. I respectfully take this opportunity to clarify my views and to offer the reassurance necessary to lay those concerns fully to rest. Such words as I have written were written in good faith with absolutely no intent whatever to imply anything contrary to the truths we are all obliged to hold by the divine and catholic faith to which I fully adhere and to which I have always adhered.
I believe and accept that the Eucharist was given to us by Christ Himself; that in the Eucharist we receive “the Bread of Life”, which is “the food of Eternal Life”. I not only believe and accept this; over nearly forty years of ministry I have come to know the reality of it through my faith experience and I have been privileged to offer witness to it through my priestly ministry.
I believe and accept that the Eucharist cannot be celebrated without a validly ordained minister.
I believe and accept that the origins of the Eucharist and the Priesthood can be found in the Last Supper, where, as Sacred Scripture tell us, Jesus gave the command to the Apostles gathered around the table to “Do this in memory of Me”.
I believe and accept that the call to Priesthood, indeed to all our Church’s ministries, comes from God through Jesus Christ.
I believe and accept that the Church has both the right and the duty to teach and preach the good news of salvation as promised by Jesus Christ and that we are reminded of this mission in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. The decree on the Church’s Missionary activity tells us that the Church strives to preach the Gospel to all men, and that it is the duty of the successors of the Apostles to carry on this work. (cf ‘Ad Gentes’)
It is my hope that the clarity and intent of this letter will be accepted in full satisfaction of the queries raised.
Fr. Tony Flannery C. Ss. R.

My understanding was that this statement was accepted by the CDF, and that it would be published; which we hoped would clear up the matter.
But in September I received the following from the new head of the CDF

Necessary Amendments to the Statement of Reverend Tony Flannery C.Ss.R.
The following additions should be incorporated by Fr. Flannery in his Statement, which is the basis of the article of clarification that he intends to publish:
1. Regarding the Church, Fr. Flannery should add to his article that he believes that Christ instituted the Church with a permanent hierarchical structure. Specifically, Fr. Flannery should state that he accepts the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, as found in Lumen Gentium n. 9-22, that the bishops are the divinely established successors of the apostles who were appointed by Christ; that, aided by the Holy Spirit, they exercise legitimate power to sanctify, teach and govern the People of God; that they constitute one Episcopal college together with the Roman Pontiff; and that in virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church, which he is always free to exercise.
2. Regarding the Eucharist, Fr. Flannery should add to his article that he believes that Christ instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper; that in the Eucharist, under the forms of bread and wine, the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained; that the Eucharist is a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross; and that only a validly ordained priests can validly celebrate the Eucharist.
3. Regarding his statement concerning the priesthood, Fr. Flannery should add to his article that he accepts that the Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and that the apostles did the same when they choose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry; and that the Church recognises herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself, and for this reason the ordination of women is not possible.
4. Furthermore, Fr. Flannery should state that he accepts the whole teaching of the Church, also in regard to moral issues.

This introduced new elements into the situation, and left me in a position where I could not sign up to the statement. Instead, I sent the following statement to the CDF:

Response on 13 September 2012 to Document received from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

1. Regarding the Church, Fr. Flannery should add to his article that he believes that Christ instituted the Church with a permanent hierarchical structure. Specifically, Fr. Flannery should state that he accepts the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, as found in Lumen Gentium n. 9-22, that the bishops are the divinely established successors of the apostles who were appointed by Christ; that, aided by the Holy Spirit, they exercise legitimate power to sanctify, teach and govern the People of God; that they constitute one Episcopal college together with the Roman Pontiff; and that in virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church, which he is always free to exercise.

I acknowledge and accept the teaching of the second Vatican Council. I have studied Lumen Gentium and it is clear from the teaching of the Council that the Lord Jesus set the church on its course by preaching the Good News. The Council also accepts the teachings of the First Vatican Council which declares that Jesus Christ, the eternal shepherd, established His holy Church, having sent forth the apostles as he himself had been sent by the Father; and he willed that their successors, namely the bishops, should be shepherds in His Church even to the consummation of the world. The Council also teaches that Jesus placed Peter over the other apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion. Vatican 2 states that “all this teaching about the institution, the perpetuity, the meaning and reason for the sacred primacy of the Roman Pontiff and of his infallible Magisterium, this Sacred Council again proposes to be firmly believed by all the faithful.” I submit to this teaching in faith. I further accept the teaching of Vatican 2 that Jesus appointed twelve apostles and that he formed them into a stable group and that he placed Peter over them and that Peter was the chief cornerstone, the leader. I accept and believe that these apostles appointed successors and these successors appointed other successors of whom our present bishops are the apostolic successors. I believe that these bishops, by virtue of their Episcopal consecration, inhabit the office of teaching and of governing in the Church. I also believe that this power to teach and govern can be exercised only in hierarchical communion with the head and members of the Episcopal college. Again, in the context of all that the Council also taught about collegiality,I submit to it in faith. More than all of the above, I believe in Jesus Christ and that He, in His person, in His teaching and in His death and Resurrection from the dead, is the source of salvation for the whole world.

2. Regarding the Eucharist, Fr. Flannery should add to his article that he believes that Christ instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper; that in the Eucharist, under the forms of bread and wine, the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained; that the Eucharist is a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross; and that only a validly ordained priests can validly celebrate the Eucharist.

I accept that the words of sacred scripture “Do this in Memory of Me” are inspired by the Holy Spirit. My understanding is that scripture scholars tell us that the Gospels began as oral tradition and gradually the stories and teaching of Jesus were put into written form, first in the writings of St. Paul and the Acts of the Apostles, and later in the four Gospel accounts that have come down to us. These writing, which we believe are divinely inspired, tell us that very early, following the ascension of Christ into Heaven, His followers began to gather, to re-tell the stories and celebrate the meal, just as Jesus had done. They did this as He had requested, and so what we now call the Eucharist became a central part of the life of the early community. Gradually they began to realise that when they shared the bread and the cup, Jesus was really present with them. And so I have no difficulty in believing that the origins of the Eucharist are to be found in the Scripture accounts of the Last Supper, and that Jesus is really and truly present when we celebrate the Eucharist.
I believe that priesthood, as we now know it, was not there from the beginning, but developed gradually. The early Christian communities choose one of their group to preside at the celebration, while other members of the community took on other functions. Only gradually did these different functions come together in one person, who began to be termed priest. Since the function of the Jewish priest was to offer sacrifice, the Christian priest also assumed the role of one who offered sacrifice to the Father, on behalf of the people. In saying this I am not suggesting that the development of priesthood in the early Church was not according to the mind of Christ. I accept the teaching of Vatican 2 that the ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; that the ministerial priest acts in the person of Christ when he makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice and offers it to God in the name of all the people.

3. Regarding his statement concerning the priesthood, Fr. Flannery should add to his article that he accepts that the Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and that the apostles did the same when they choose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry; and that the Church recognises herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself, and for this reason the ordination of women is not possible.

I have always been impressed by the significant presence of women in the life of Jesus, as recounted in the Gospels. And the writing of St. Paul and the Acts of the Apostles suggest that they were also significant in the early Church.
I am also conscious of the work of the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1976. Having studied the question, the commission voted unanimously that the New Testament does not settle in a clear way and, once and for all, the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate. Secondly, the possibility that the scripture gave sufficient indications to exclude the ordination of women was defeated by a majority of seven votes. And finally the proposition that the Church hierarchy could admit women to ordination without going against Christ’s original intentions was approved by the same majority.
My years of pastoral ministry have informed me that many women find the current Church teaching on this matter very difficult. Lumen Gentium 12 states that “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when ‘from the bishops down to the last of the lay faithful’ they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals” There are clear indications from research, and also from my many years of pastoral experience, that a great many of the faithful have not ‘received’ this teaching. Putting that together with the findings of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, I am left with serious questions about the teaching on the ordination of women in the Catholic Church. I also have questions as to whether sufficient level of discernment was undertaken prior to the decree that the topic of the admission of women to ministerial priesthood should not be discussed by faithful members of the Catholic Church. I have given this serious consideration and I find it difficult to dismiss the strong possibility that the Holy Spirit may have been speaking through the aforementioned Pontifical commission, and may be currently speaking through the voice of the faithful. So I am left with serious and difficult questions.
In this context, I point to the Declaration on Religious Liberty issued by Vatican II. This document states that human persons are bound to adhere to the truth, once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with truth. I am aware that the thrust of the Declaration on Religious Liberty focuses on the religious freedom that must be accorded to the human person by the civil authorities. However, I believe when the Church declares “in religious matters, every form of coercion by men should be excluded” I think that this teaching should also guide the governance of the church in dealing with its own members.

4. Furthermore, Fr. Flannery should state that he accepts the whole teaching of the Church, also in regard to moral issues.

This part of the request from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith seems to particularly focus on Church teaching on moral issues.
As with my response to the last question, it is also clear to me that some matters of Church teaching on sexual issues are not ‘received’ by the majority of faithful Catholics. Again this is shown by the results of research in various parts of the world, and also clearly in my years of pastoral experience. So I am left with the same serious and difficult question. Is it possible that in this area also the Spirit is speaking to us through the voice of the committed believers?
I have worked for almost forty years as a Redemptorist Priest, trying to follow the instruction of our founder, St. Alphonsus, that I should have particular care for the most abandoned, for those on the margins of society or Church, and for those who feel lost and alone. In this context I have experienced difficulty also with the way in which Church moral teaching has been presented and imposed on people. I have always been very conscious of the warning of Jesus that we should not be like the Pharisees, placing impossible burdens on peoples’ shoulders, and not lifting a finger to help them. There have been time when teachings were imposed without the necessary degree of understanding and compassion. Of course we must strive for the ideal, as laid out in the Gospels, but, like Jesus, we must be compassionate, accepting and forgiving of the weakness and failure of humanity, including ourselves.

Finally, may I say this about the dispute that exists between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and myself:
I hope that I am a committed member of the Catholic Church and of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. I have spent my priestly life preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the best of my ability. I believe that my life as a priest and religious has been a great privilege, one of which I am not worthy. I love the Catholic Church. Its spirituality has nourished me through my life. I don’t want to belong to any other church. I ask to be allowed to practice my priesthood. I see how His Holiness, Pope Benedict has been able to reach out to the followers of Bishop Lefebvre and such reconciliation bears witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I ask that this inclusiveness also include me. In humility and charity, I point out that I have not made any public comments that have not been made by Moral Theologians and Scripture Scholars who are teaching in institutions that have the approval of the teaching Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church. I cannot do otherwise than follow my conscience.
This is where I stand. This is my statement.

Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss.R.

This was not accepted by the CDF, which leave me in my present position. I am forbidden to minister as a priest until such time as I give them the statement they require, and which I cannot give.

26 Responses

  1. Con Devree

    In his statement Fr Flannery quotes form Lumen Gentium 12 thus:
    “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when ‘from the bishops down to the last of the lay faithful’ they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals”
    However the omits the very next sentence in the same paragraph 12:
    “By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (magisterium), and obeying it, receives not the mere word of men, but truly the word of God (cf. 1 Th. 2:13), the faith once for all delivered to the saints (cf. Jude 3)
    Could I respectfully suggest that the two sentences need to be taken in conjunction with each other.

  2. Jerry Slevin

    Thank you, Tony, for this very helpful information. It seems clear to me as an Irish American lawyer that the Vatican is trying to punish you in part to try to embarass and get revenge against PM Enda Kenny and your brother. It won’t work. The Vatican has zero credibility in Ireland (or anywhere else) and the Irish know well all you have done and still do to promote the Gospels.

    The Irish must keep protesting until you are free to resume fully your priestly and scholarly ministry. They must end the Irish Inquisition!

    We are trying in the USA to press President Obama to follow the bold lead of Enda Kenny and Julia Gillard, Australia’s brave PM, who was born in Wales. The Celts will just have to save the Church again!

    Anyone in the world can, and everyone should, sign the petition available at http://wp.me/P2YEZ3-ie

  3. Diffal

    Dear Fr.Tony,

    I don’t see how you can reconcile your answer to no.1 above, Lumen Gentium 9-22 and the statement “I believe that priesthood, as we now know it, was not there from the beginning, but developed gradually. The early Christian communities choose one of their group to preside at the celebration, while other members of the community took on other functions. Only gradually did these different functions come together in one person, who began to be termed priest.”

    Either the Priesthood was founded on the 12 Apostles by Christ, As Lumen Gentium and indeed Presbyterorum Ordinis say or it wasn’t and is a sociological construct(albeit a later sociological construct of the Holy Spirit). I only ask this as I’m confused by what appears to me to be irreconcilable statments and would appreciate any clarification possible.

  4. Andrew

    Diffal,
    With all due respect; I do not believe that Fr Flannery has anything to clarify, his statement is clear enough. If you do not understand the tenets of what it is that he is saying, then read a good scholarly piece on the development of the priestly ministry – you will find it to be just as Fr Flannery has explained in his reply to the CDF – it is what is taught in every Latin Rite Seminary. I really do not know what the CDF are playing at. Come Holy Spirit….. the sooner the better!

  5. Kevin

    I’ve read the statement here from Lumen Gentium 12 in this new context.

    What it says to me is that the WHOLE PEOPLE of God, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of Truth – the Holy One – cannot err in matters of belief. With the WHOLE PEOPLE’S involvement – from bishops down to last of the faithful – in this process of supernatural discernment, universal agreement in matters of faith and morals is (can be) realised through this special property gifted by the Holy Spirit.

    Then, guided by this sacred authority (Magisterium) in following its teaching, obeying – living by those teachings, the Whole People of God – the Church (Body of Christ) receives not the mere word of MEN, but truly the Word of God – the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

  6. Joe O'Leary

    ” Only gradually did these different functions come together in one person, who began to be termed priest.”
    This sounds historically correct. It does not imply that the priesthood was merely a sociological construct and in this sense is compatible with the traditional language used by Vatican II.

    “That the bishops are the divinely established successors of the apostles who were appointed by Christ” —
    I already pointed out that both Joseph Ratzinger and Walter Kasper qualify this and say it is not literal and historical.

    “that, aided by the Holy Spirit, they exercise legitimate power to sanctify, teach and govern the People of God; that they constitute one Episcopal college together with the Roman Pontiff”

    totally uncontroversial

    “and that in virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church, which he is always free to exercise.”
    The papal primacy probably needs a bit of trimming, which the proper promotion of collegiality, urged by Vatican II and thwarted by the Vatican, could bring about.

  7. Paddy Ferry

    Well said, Andrew and Joe.

  8. Diffal

    With Respect Andrew, I have read several excellent works on the Nature of the Catholic Priesthood over the last few years and I continue to do so. In the last 30 years there have been some marvellously in depth works by Jesuits, Dominicans and Secular priests on the matter, and of course I have read the related documents of Vatican II. It is because I have done so that I am confused by Fr. Tony’s statements.

    In addition Fr. Tony’s view is not taught in every Latin Rite Seminary nor even every Pontifical University. But then some places still teach that Hippolytus wrote the second Eucharistic prayer. Which if you tried to say that in a doctoral defence now you would have serious problems unless you also produced some evidence for the claim.

  9. Joe O'Leary

    “Fr. Tony’s view is not taught in every Latin Rite Seminary nor even every Pontifical University” — the danger is that young priests are only getting the theology of the most conservative schools of Catholic thought. This is why they come across as weirdos when unleashed on the world.

  10. Diffal

    @Joe O’Leary I find it immensely unhelpful that you would categorise people who disagree with you as “weirdos”, I certainly wouldn’t suggest that Fr. Tony comes across as a weirdo for his beliefs.

    These things are no longer taught in many places not because the institutions are “conservative” rather because the theological underpinnings of the aforementioned positions were never part of Scripture or the Catholic Tradition, (up to and including Vatican II and the post conciliar teaching of the Church). They were the result of the well intentioned but poorly informed historical-critical method of archaeological ressourcement which was prevalent in the 20th century. The historical influence and context of these positions are of course still mentioned in these “conservative” institutions but they are no longer taught as ‘gospel’ as it were.

  11. Bob Hayes

    Jerry (2), there is a procedure to follow when proposing someone for canonisation. Or is deification what you express in your glowing praise of Enda Kenny and Julia Gillard? Please don’t forget the First Commandment – even though it was given before Vatican II….

  12. Joe O'Leary

    I withdraw “weirdos” — suffice it to say that one often hears complaints about the out-of-touchness and smug dogmatism of hothouse-bred young priests. .

  13. Anthony Lavelle

    I really feel for Fr. Tony Flannery. I think he is truly reflecting a viewpoint that many clergy and practising Catholics implicitly follow.

  14. Therese Freebury

    The CDF argument against women’s ordination made to Fr. Flannery seems superficial; applied to other possible common characteristics of the Apostles all our priests may have to be brown eyed, right handed or Jewish. If the CDF persists in this argument its members should remember that Peter was married and that Jesus probably did not have His back to the Apostles during the Last Supper. The contrast between the Vatican’s treatment of Fr Flannery for quoting the findings of the Pontifical Biblical Commission concerning women’s ordination and the treatment of child abusers is mind numbing. I support Fr. Flannery and have signed the petition, although I actually think that he remains a priest.

  15. Soline Humbert

    @14
    Yes, Therese, and let’s not forget circumcision. Jesus was a circumcised Jew who chose 12 circumcised Jews.He chose no gentiles. He obviously intended to exclude them for ever. How did the church ever discover it had the authority to depart from the example of Jesus and have uncircumcised leaders? The answer: The Spirit! But it took Peter some time to get around to that and discover,much to his surprise, that “God has no favorites!” Some day soon maleness will be seen to be no more essential than circumcision.

  16. Veritas

    What about the sacrament/vocation to marriage? As a married man I think the marriage vow is too strenuous/onerous on the male – a mere invention by the later Roman Church to curtail our natural male inclinations.

  17. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Tony Flannery: the case for the prosecution
    .
    Fr. Tony Flannery has apparently taken to Twitter (@frtonyflannery). May the force be with him. He’s going to need it.
    .
    No sooner had he stuck his head above the parapet than he was potshotted by Fr. Z. ( http://bit.ly/11Rd8p6 @fatherz) who referred the reader to Eamonn Keane’s publishing of the syllabus of errors of Fr. Tony (http://bit.ly/11RdE6F).
    .
    Keane’s posting, elaborately defending CDF positions, underlines for me how completely out of touch with reality much of these positions are. It reads like something from the Mad Hatter’s Teaparty with a gaggle of angels perching on a pinhead and some mysteries thrown in to plaster over the cracks.
    .
    The implication of Keane’s post is that nothing can change. The tracks have been laid and the train has no choice but to travel on them.
    .
    Over the last forty or so years, I have been studying the history of Killiney Bay, and one thing I do know is that when coastal erosion was eating away at the cliffs that supported the first railway line, the route was changed inland. The result was that we still have a functioning railway line. CDF please note.
    .

  18. Diane

    You, who ask the same questions that millions and million of other Catholics ask, are being singled out for this treatment. It is unfair and to me, shows a hierarchy that is afraid and that has lost the ability to communicate with the people.
    And yet, priests and bishops who have committed and/or covered up child sexual abuse get no action from the church? Boston’s Cardinal Law was promoted after the mess he left in Boston.
    The hypocrisy and arrogance astounds me.

    I left the church after 56 years of being a Catholic. This just reinforces the soundness of my decision. The Pope, Cardinals and Bishops no longer hold the moral high ground after their callous, inhuman and terrible treatment of the victims of child sex abuse.
    To not allow women to have a seat at the table, as it were, and exclude them from participating equally as Deacons, priests etc. is no longer acceptable.
    What would Jesus do? We have plenty of evidence of his actions in the NT.
    I wonder if Jesus returned today, if he would recognize the Catholic church. Or if he too, would be ostracized for asking the questions and living as he did 2000 years ago.

  19. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Surely, following a literal interpretation of the Last Supper, the celebration of a valid mass would require a quorum of 13 (including the priest and at least one one participant in a state of mortal sin)?

  20. ger gleeson

    Diane,y ou tell an untruth. You did not leave the church, the church left you. It left all of us many years ago, and we are now, priests and laity, intent on reclaiming it. Continue to make your contribution. We will succeed.

  21. Veritas

    I don’t doubt Fr. Flannery’s sincerity, but if he so profoundly disagrees with the Church on so many issues, how did he make his vows in the first place, and how on earth can he stay in a Church he still so profoundly disagrees with. It seems to me a case of biting the hand that feeds you. Also while I dont agree with the numbers game, per se, it does seem paradoxical that despite the media frenzy, only about 100 people turned up at the Papal Nuncios residence on the weekend ; 4 million+ stayed away. Finally, surely one solution would be for Fr. Flannery & his supportes to leave the Roman Catholic Church and set up some kind of National/Patriotic Church. The Chinese Patriotic Church would seem to the perfect template. That way, everyone is happy ; or are they ?.

  22. ger gleeson

    Veritas @21. Please read Diane’s post at 18 above. What Diane writes is true, although many would prefer to pretend it is not. Fr Flannery,ACP, ACI, and their followers are certainly not, either setting up a new church, or joining an existing one. All we are doing is reclaiming the one founded by Jesus Christ, and that is the ONE TRUE CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH.

  23. Joe O'Leary

    Veritas like nature likes to conceal itself; she must be narrowly defined indeed if she urges “Fr. Flannery & his supporters to leave the Roman Catholic Church and set up some kind of National/Patriotic Church”. Such rhetoric is a kind of Catholic McCarthyism where a jumped-up set of ultras tar the majority of their fellows as not real Americans/real Catholics at all.

  24. Bain Wellington

    The CDF invited Fr Tony Flannery to subscribe to certain statements relative to (I) the Church, (II) the Eucharist, (III) the priesthood, and (IV) the Church’s moral teaching.

    Under (I) are 5 propositions, and the first has two limbs:- (i) “Christ instituted the Church”, (ii) “with a permanent hierarchical structure”. This is the subject of Lumen gentium chapter 3, and Fr Tony Flannery says “I acknowledge and accept the teaching of the second Vatican Council” and “I have studied Lumen gentium”.

    What do we get from Fr Tony Flannery? On (i), instead of the words to which he is asked to assent, he wrote “Jesus Christ . . established His holy Church . .” Is there a distinction between “instituted” and “established”? If so, what is it?

    Then there is limb (ii) of proposition 1. As to the Church’s hierarchical nature, AF says nothing about its permanency and nothing about its institution by Christ.

    Proposition 2 also has two limbs:- (i) “the bishops are the divinely established successors of the apostles”, (ii) “who were appointed by Christ”. AF accepts that the Apostles were appointed by Christ, and that they appointed other successors down to “our present bishops”; but that’s it.

    Fr Tony Flannery is silent on (i). Why? Did Christ not will that the successors of the Apostles (namely, the bishops) should be shepherds in His Church? Does Lumen Gentium not state “that the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the Apostles as pastors of the Church in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and Him who sent Christ”?

    You see, Tony – and pausing at prop 2 (out of 5) of topic (I) – it looks like ducking and diving on your part. That’s your credibility problem right there.

  25. Bain Wellington

    It’s the same mixture of variations, additions and omissions from Fr. Flannery on topic (II), the Eucharist. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presented 4 propositions here. The last (“only a validly ordained priest can validly celebrate the Eucharist”) was admitted by Fr. Flannery in his earlier response. That leaves 3:-
    [1] “Christ instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper”;
    Fr. Flannery (in his earlier letter) wrote “the Eucharist was given to us by Christ” and “I believe and accept that the origins of the Eucharist and the Priesthood can be found in the Last Supper”. He does not say that Christ instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper. In his later letter he omits even to say that the “origins” of the priesthood are found there.
    [2] “in the Eucharist, under the forms of bread and wine, the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained”;
    Fr. Flannery wrote “Jesus is really and truly present when we celebrate the Eucharist”. The true presence is seemingly limited to “when we celebrate the Eucharist”, and he did not admit that Christ is “substantially” present – this appears to be a refusal to accept the doctrine of transubstantiation and it appears to exclude the validity of Eucharistic adoration.
    [3] “the Eucharist is a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross”;
    Fr. Flannery gets as far as admitting that “[the priest] makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice and offers it to God”.
    Sacrosanctum Concilium, n.47 reads:- “At the Last Supper . . our Saviour instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again”. Why does Fr. Flannery tinker with this teaching of the Council?

  26. Bain Wellington

    To resume, if I may, on topic (III), the priesthood. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith first proposed two facts :- (i) the Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and (ii) the apostles did the same when they choose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. Fr. Flannery remained mute despite the clear evidence of Mk.3:13-19, Ac.1:15-26 etc.

    As propositions (iii) and (iv) assert, these facts constitute the irreducible basis for the Church’s teaching on the impossibility of ordaining women to the priesthood, namely, the practice of the Lord, as followed by the Apostles. The claim that cultural and societal factors constrained the Lord (and the Apostles after Him) to act as He, and they, did is pure supposition. The Lord made a free and sovereign choice not to call a woman as an Apostle.

    Fr. Flannery ignored what was asked of him and focussed upon the opinion (it was no more) of a majority of the Pontifical Biblical Commission (acting in 1976 in a purely advisory capacity). Since that very Commission – see Part IV s.(1) of its draft Report – conceded the facts stated in propositions (i) and (ii), it is mystifying why Fr. Flannery could not bring himself to admit them. It just seems evasive on his part.

    The Commission concluded :- “The masculine character of the hierarchical order which has structured the church since its beginning thus seems attested to by scripture in an undeniable way.” (ibid.). That is as far as biblical exegesis can go. It cannot say whether that practice is normative for the Church today.

    As for relying on his own pastoral experience and upon “research” in order to invoke what is, anyway, a seriously flawed interpretation of Lumen Gentium, n.12, the less said the better.


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