23Jan Is Tony Flannery really threatened with excommunication?

Some clarifications of stories that are doing the rounds in the media.

1. The Irish Catholic says that I am not threatened with excommunication.
In June of last year, 2012 I received a document from the CDF which contained the following paragraph:
“The Church’s canon law (c. 1044) calls a priest who has committed the delict of heresy ‘irregular for the exercise of orders received’, while canon 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”
I am not a theologian, but to me that definitely reads like a threat. If the Vatican has now decided to withdraw that threat I would be very glad. Though I would be happier still if they allowed me to continue my ministry as a priest. But if that is the case I would like to get it in writing from the CDF, but this time on official paper and with a signature! Hearing it from that classic journalistic cliché of an ‘informed source’ telling the editor of a minor Irish newspaper is not totally convincing.

2. The second issue is what exactly the argument between me and the Vatican was about.
It is correct that at first it concerned a few sentences taken for various articles I had written in Reality Magazine over the years, to do with the origins of Church and priesthood. During the early part of last year I worked on this, and in June presented the following statement to the CDF through the head of the Redemptorists:

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.

This statement was accepted by Cardinal Levada, the then head of the CDF. I am told that the exact words he used were: “This is a fine statement”.
It was my understanding that this put the matter to bed, and would be published in Reality Magazine.
But in September the new head of the CDF, Archbishop Gerhart Meuller sent the following document:
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.

Take note of nos. 3 & 4. These were new issues brought in at this point, – the question of women’s ordination and the ‘moral issues’. (In Church circles today that phrase most usually refers to sexual morality.
Up to this point I was happy to clarify my position, and give the Vatican the statement they desired, as I had done in June. But it was points 3 & 4 of this document that were the breaking point for me. And that is why I have stated clearly all this week that this is about the issues of womens’ ordination and sexual teaching. And I was told very clearly that the only way I would be allowed back into ministry would be to sign and publish this statement.
I hope this clear up the matter for those who are interested.

Tony Flannery

49 Responses

  1. Joe O'Leary

    This should put paid to the meme based on a sentence quoted without context. The Vatican asks Fr Tony to “affirm that Christ instituted the Church with a permanent hierarchical structure and that bishops are divinely-established successors to the apostles” — which if read as a historical statements about Jesus in his earthly ministry would not be accepted by most exegetes and by many ecclesiologists today. The emergence of the “permanent hierarchical structure” took at least a hundred years, and an obsessive focus on it at the expense of the wider texture of ministry damaged the church a lot.

  2. Darlene Starrs

    Wow……Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up!

  3. Darlene Starrs

    Oh, that could be misunderstood…..heretics……meaning the members of the CDF who want you to say that women cannot be ordained!

  4. Peter Short

    Joe, would you care to substantiate that? Certainly it is the case that a precise form of Church organisation developed over time, as you might expect for any rapidly expanding community. But on the question of whether Christ instituted a permanent hierarchy, are you seriously saying that there are Catholic ecclesiologists who disagree? What, then, is to be made of the ancient credal formula that says the Church is “apostolic”?

    I’m afraid to say that the points 3 & 4 to which Fr. Flannery objects should be utterly uncontroversial for any practicing Catholic, let alone a priest. The only surprise is that he (or anyone else) is acting surprised.

  5. Laura Kuntz

    This makes me so sad. As I understand it, Tony, you are suffering for women’s ordination, contraception, and for more church kindness toward gay folks. In other words, for me (a woman), and for others. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

  6. Martina Killeavy

    Dear CDF

    Why do you continually separate yourselves from the Body of Christ?
    Shame on you.

  7. Paul Nolan

    Dear Father Flannery – sincere thanks for that very helpful clarification. The account in The Irish Catholic is, to say the least, far from the full picture.

  8. Kevin

    I am not a theologian, or learned in theology, as am sure is apparent. :-)

    Re: priesthood. For me I see Mary as a priest. She was at THE true sacrifice – and offered all of Christ to the Father. The ‘hierarchy’ – even though not yet properly formed, mostly ran away. Who remained ? Mostly women it would seem at the crucial time.

    Mary was, is a Woman. Ergo, Mary is a ‘heretic’ ? Excommunication ?

    I don’t tend to push one way or another with most things – certainly matters religious, as we are all finite little creatures who cannot possibly begin to fathom an infinite Deity.

    But I cannot see why Mary was not a true priest. Cause She was a heretic ?

    Interesting the changes made with a change of hierarch.

    I’m afraid like most people these days, what those guys say about anything seems mostly, if not wholly irrelevant, which is a pity. Not how it should be. But ‘forced prayer’ does no good to a soul as a wise man once told me. Seems so many of us, like Mary, are all heretics.

    But we can’t be made to walk into heaven by forcibly walking backwards out of hell.

    And I’d been reading here more about trying to devise ways of supporting others in various contexts, priests and laity, real beginnings to that – something critical, badly needed.

    No mention of those kinds of things with their threats and ‘signed documents’. Gotta give it to them in that arena – they are and remain consistent.

    Thanks for clarity Tony. And good luck !!! Whatever the outcome – thank you.

  9. Gina Menzies

    Many members of the church must be on the excommunication list for holding similar theological positions as Tony Flannery.

  10. Joe O'Leary

    “on the question of whether Christ instituted a permanent hierarchy, are you seriously saying that there are Catholic ecclesiologists who disagree? What, then, is to be made of the ancient credal formula that says the Church is “apostolic”?”

    Historically, Jesus instituted the Twelve — who were not a permanent hierarchy, since their role fades away in the early church, when figures like St James the brother of the Lord and St Paul come to the fore.

    Theologians such as Rahner discuss the status of the hierarchy of bishop, presbyter, deacon as it emerges in the second century. It is seen as divinely ordained but its historical formation leaves space for discussion.

    Apostolic succession in a literal sense that would see all bishops as stemming from one of the Twelve through the laying on of hands does not seem to be upheld by theologians today.

  11. Joe O'Leary

    Among theologians who relativize the idea of a literal chain of succession from the apostles to the bishops are Joseph Ratzinger and Walter Kasper. Kasper says:

    “As I see the problem and its possible solution, it is not a question of apostolic succession in the sense of an historical chain of laying on of hands running back through the centuries to one of the apostles; this would be a very mechanical and individualistic vision, which by the way historically could hardly be proved and ascertained.

    “The Catholic view is different from such an individualistic and mechanical approach. Its starting point is the collegium of the apostles as a whole; together they received the promise that Jesus Christ will be with them till the end of the world (Matt 28, 20). So after the death of the historical apostles they had to co–opt others who took over some of their apostolic functions. In this sense the whole of the episcopate stands in succession to the whole of the collegium of the apostles.

    “To stand in the apostolic succession is not a matter of an individual historical chain but of collegial membership in a collegium, which as a whole goes back to the apostles by sharing the same apostolic faith and the same apostolic mission. The laying on of hands is under this aspect a sign of co-optation in a collegium.

    “This has far reaching consequences for the acknowledgement of the validity of the episcopal ordination of an other Church. Such acknowledgement is not a question of an uninterrupted chain but of the uninterrupted sharing of faith and mission, and as such is a question of communion in the same faith and in the same mission.”

    http://www.cardinalrating.com/cardinal_45__article_139.htm

  12. Martin Murray

    I personally wouldn’t be so sure that Jesus came to establish a hierarchical church. It may well have been the last thing on His mind if his attitude towards the religious establishment of His time is anything to go by. Rather he repeatedly talked about the Kingdom of God which is not simply the church, and most definitely not the institutional church. The church is an instrument of the Kingdom. To be honest, I wonder, on the cosmic scale of things, if God really gives a hoot what form of church governance and structure we come up with, as long as it is loving, inclusive, just, and that nobody gets hurt by it. Just maybe we have a few hundred elderly gentlemen (or is it more), who take themselves far to seriously and who try to convince us to do the same.

  13. Catherine Breathnach

    Thank you for the clarification. I don’t believe either that Jesus had a concern for organisational hierarchy – as someone else has said, this is likely to have been the last thing on his agenda given his own approach and actions.

    It seems this is all about an exercise in organisational power, control, and domination.

    Anyone who doesn’t fit into the narrow and outdated confines of the limited experience of many members of the hierarchy, and certainly the culture of this structure, is experienced as a threat and therefore ‘the enemy’. This includes, it seems, the female half of the population. Anyone who who engages in thinking and dialogue is an enemy apparently. This isn’t about core Christian beliefs.

    As with Luther, I imagine in a few hundred years time people will be wondering what the fuss was about. That doesn’t take away from the the cruel, inhumane and short-sighted approach being adopted by the hierarchy now.

  14. rrita

    Father took VOWS.. His order has requested certain things..he refuses. This tells me all I need to know about the man. Why the heck does anyone fight to stay in an organization with which they find so offensive?? There are over 33,000 denominations out there surely one will suit his views. If not, start your own church. It appeas you have plently who will follow you. MAN UP!!

  15. Eddie Finnegan

    This obsession with some putative individual line of succession back to the origins reminds me of an interest I took in genealogy in my third year in Armagh, so I asked my History and English teacher, Jerry Hicks, how to go about it. “Sonny,” he says, “don’t dabble in that nonsense. I never got past 1916 myself.” (For any of Jerry’s grandchildren out there, I think he was joking, and he may have said “1921/22” with our bonfire of the vanities in mind.)
    .
    A new young West African bishop I met at a wedding was still fascinated by the fact that his episcopal family tree went back to a 16th century Italian cardinal, Scipione Rebiba, and that it included seven or eight popes and a whole bundle of cardinals and historical notables. I didn’t have the heart to mention that more than 95% of bishops could make the same or greater claims – but I suspect he knew that already and was just trying to impress me so I’d pay for his pint at the bar. If he’d been born in one of the neighbouring francophone countries even thirty years earlier he might well have been taught to look back with respect to “nos ancetres les Gaulloises” – and it would have been just as paternalistically meaningful as the Rebiba link.
    .
    I suppose it’s a comfort to the Curia and most bishops to know that they can trace their bona fides back to Trent (Rebiba was a bishop from the year before Trent’s opening till twelve years after it closed.) It would be even more comforting if they could trace that tenuous thread to before M Luther’s time, but everything pre-Rebiba is guessing and patchwork.
    .
    Though not such tenuous guessing and patchwork as when we turn back to the first century or two AD. Try to construct a theory of hierarchical succession from later Gospel accounts of the Last Supper in (?)30AD, to Paul’s incidental few sentences in 1st Timothy about the overseer/episcopos and very similar deacon requirements,with even more incidental verses about elders/presbyters who preach and teach; and then little or nothing till Ignatius of Antioch’s incidental reminder, 70+ years after the Last Supper, that the ‘episcopos’ + deacon and presbyter are all essential to a church; and then it’s another 90 years before another scrap of evidence on hierarchy from Clement of Alexandria.
    .
    To construe all that as a proven basis for infallible doctrine of a permanent hierarchical structure, an ordained priesthood as we know it ab origine, and a ‘viri’ only priesthood ad aeternam – all to be believed perforce under pain / threat / even possibility of excommunication – is like forcing a class of pupils to accept that a credible network for living and learning can be built from an endless succession of holes and gaps joined by an imaginary thread.
    These CDF folks will really have to try harder or walk all over us more (intelli)gently. Cardinal Kasper, who should have risen higher, is obviously an intelligent gent.

  16. Frank Graham

    It seems rather sad to me that one of the main responses to those disagreeing with Fr. Tony Flannery and who support the CDF is that he should leave the church and find another one. After all he does not deny any fundamental Doctrine or core Belief of the Church and to say that he finds the Church ‘offensive’is totally untrue and an insult to him. But discussion and debate seem to be out of the question like in an absolute Monarchy or Dictatorship. It still seems that Rome has spoken and if you don’t like it then get out!

  17. Diffal

    To be fair “latae sentientiae excommunication” cannot be imposed by the CDF as it is a result of the actions and beliefs of the individual. It literally means “excommunication (the) sentence (of which is/that is already) passed” and we can only impose it on ourselves. They’re not treatening Fr. Tony with excommunication they’re warning him(how ever unnecessary that warning may be given his clarifications) that he may inflict it on himself.

    I don’t see why it would be a problem for Fr. Tony to spell out for the new german at the CDF that he believes in 3&4 as well, since they too are part of “the truths we are all obliged to hold by the divine and catholic faith to which [he] fully adhere[s] and to which [he has] always adhered.” it would clear this nonsense up, show everyone he was the ‘bigger man’ and get would get Fr. Tony back in Ministry.

  18. Darlene Starrs

    When an Institution such as the Vatican appears to be more and more entrenched and abusive, it can very well mean, that “something” irreversible is about to happen to change their “reality”………….the last one was Vatican II.

  19. Eileen

    “Everything they do is done to attract attention …. like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets … being greeted respectfully in the market squares and having people call them ‘Rabbi’….You have only one master and you are all brothers and sisters…. the greatest among you must be your servant …” Read Matthew 23 for Christ’s comments on the hierarchy.

    There seems to be an assumption that the Catholic Church is a club with rules. Someone even compared it to a political party whose followers have to toe the party line! OK, so it evolved into an organisation but not like other organisations that espouse secular values and have structures to KEEP PEOPLE OUT.Christ founded a community of believers who cared for each other and reached out to the wider community. Sure it has to have rules so that people will be respected but these are arrived at by an on-going search for truth, paying attention ot the signs of the times. To see the Church as an exclusive club is the very opposite of what the Eucharist means.

  20. Darlene Starrs

    As much as I can recall, the notion that the Church is “heirarchical” in nature comes from applying a pyramid type structure onto the “Father”, “Son”, and “Holy Spirit”…..The Father being the top of the pyramid, and then the son, and then the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” form one community of equals, and while the Father’s will remains the ultimate authority, in that, the Son and the Holy Spirit will never act independent of the Father…….I think, seeing them as relating to each other, heirarchically is suspect, if not ridiculous. Now we could use a theologian!

  21. Darlene Starrs

    Back to the “Yeast of the Pharisees” The CDF would have us believe that every single bishop is divinely appointed? How can we be absolutely sure anyone is divinely appointed? Was it not Cardinal Martini, on the his death bed, that suggested, that the Holy Spirit wasn’t always present when choosing a pope? (Bishop of Rome) I wonder what the Church Institution would really look like if everyone was really divine appointed? In fact, what would the entire Church look like if everyone was divinely appointed? What I do think happens is that God has a lot of footstools! God’s plan for us and this Church will never be thwarted, so God allows for certain things, doesn’t allow for others, and eventually, little by little, with a number of push and pulls, we arrive at what God can use. It doesn’t mean, it’s all divinely instituted, but whatever God can use to further His purposes, He uses. “Our ways are not His ways” “Our thoughts are not His thoughts”. The plan for this Church on earth and our salvation are a huge God project, and we can only, “see through glass dimly”, but rest assured whatever is in the Mind of God, It Will Happen, no matter what any of us say, think, or do.

  22. Jane Campbell

    The perspective of the eagle is very different from the perspective of the fish.

  23. daithi

    Amazing that in the 21st century, 50 years after Vatican II, the debate is about recognising the exclusive role and power of a small number of men to tell all of us fellow Catholics (95%) what interpretations of archaic language, customs and perceptions should be accepted today. Is somebody seriously telling me that there is no room for growth and development to cater for the needs of the modern church and society?
    If Jesus was on earth today do you think he would be happy with the way ‘the preachers and elders in the temple’ are interpreting and applying his words?
    Move on and get to grips with the reality of life and the role of the church today.

  24. ger gleeson

    It is clear from Archbishop Meuller’s letter that women do not count within the church. Come to think of it I truly believe that he believes that only the CDF count. Great for the CDF. Bad for the church.

  25. Darlene Starrs

    Kevin, like yourself, I used to tell myself, that if Mary had been selected with the twelve, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
    As the reading in Hebrews says today, Christ, as High Priest, had a higher calling and didnot have to be a cultic priest of the Judaic religion. I would say the same of Mary, since, she is Theotokos, the Mother of God, and Co-Redemptorix with Christ,she had and has a higher calling.

  26. Darlene Starrs

    All excellent Eileen!

  27. Julie Mackey

    It is puzzling that the CDF could expect Tony Flannery to deny the truth uncovered by the work of church historians and biblical scholars. Do none of them read?

  28. Malcolm R

    Allow me to add my thoughts and prayers to the Holy Spirit for our brother Tony, as he walks his Way of the Cross
    At this juncture it appears futile to try to convince the Roman authorities with subtle reasoning.
    Perhaps the words of your departed Brother in Christ, Bernard Haring CSsR, might give you some solace as you walk the same path as he did.
    “After the Inquisitor pronounced the usual formula,’I cut you off from the Church Militant, I cut you off from the Church Triumphant’, while the flames were burning around him, Savaoarola, known as the Florentine prophet is said to have replied, ‘You can cut me off from this all too militant Church. Fortunately, you have no authority over the Heavenly Church” (Cf. Free and Faithful)

  29. Joe O'Leary

    “At this juncture it appears futile to try to convince the Roman authorities with subtle reasoning.”

    What a delicious sentence!

  30. Orla Carroll

    I applaud Tony Flannery’s courage and integrity in speaking of his recent treatment by the CDF. Challenging the authority of the Catholic Church is not easy for people who have devoted their lives to faithful service of that church. That challenge is all the more difficult – and all the more necessary – when church authority has strayed so far from the teaching of Jesus Christ that threats and repression take the place of compassion, and respect for conscience and for truth.
    The CDF’s treatment of Fr. Flannery (and many others) is not only gravely unjust to those individuals but it damages the whole church. Many people, who struggle to remain within the church, are increasingly disheartened to see church authority abandoning the generous, inclusive spirit of Vatican II in favour of the repressive, dictatorial methods of former times.
    If the Catholic Church is to have a healthy future it needs, and depends on, voices such as that of Tony Flannery.

  31. Eddie Finnegan

    Jolly Irish canon lawyer at the CDF Snackbar this morning (acc. to a Vatican Insider informed source): “Duas Latas Sententiae cum tribus Paninis Delictis Contumacisque et quodcumque vos haeretici Germanici estis habentes pro vobismetipsis.”
    Our translator, after first turning up her nose at what she termed ‘this bog Latin’, says she thinks what the Monsignor meant was: “Two Skinny Lattes with three Sweet & Savoury Panini and whatever yous German heretics are having yourselves.”

  32. Darlene Starrs

    I didn’t know something similar happened to Father Bernard Haring.
    I read one of his books on Mary in 1985-86 and it was extremely helpful for my theological understanding.

  33. Darlene Starrs

    i am following up on what Daithi said about the Church moving on with what it needs to do now and indeed what it was always supposed to do from the time Christ commissioned the Church to “Go Out To The Whole World”. Today, is the Feast Day of the Conversion of St. Paul and we celebrate that He encountered the risen Christ and did exactly that……went out to the whole of His world and preached the Good News of Jesus Christ. As long as there are people who “hunger for the Bread of Life, and Thirst for Living Water”, the Church, has a role in this world.

  34. Darlene Starrs

    i would also like to thank Jane for her profound comment that “the perspective of the eagle is different from the perspective of the fish”. I’m not sure how you understood that comment Jane, but, I took it to mean, that we can become preoccupied with certain historical facts and details and miss the significance of the whole story. I believe another way of saying that is: “We can’t see the forest for the trees”.

  35. Paul Nolan

    Father Flannery interviewed on CNN yesterday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw7fdj23bwY

  36. Darlene Starrs

    What do I mean in this instance “can’t see the forest for the trees?” First of all, what we, as the Church, have been discussing on these pages, is the “Abuse of Power” as it has been delivered by the CDF and demonstrated in the actions taken towards Father Flannery. May I add, that, what is even more dangerous and the ACP have said so,is that the CDF’s real goal is to have the voice of reform destroyed. If that voice was truly inspired by “demonic forces” rather than Christ, I would rather the voice of reform was squelched, but there is nothing, about what the ACP stands for and are working for that suggests anything anti-christ or antichurch.
    There is real suppression here folks of the charisms and gifts of the Church, that being, the vocation of Christ, as it emerges among the faithful, but particularly among our women. I know that many Catholic people who have said on this website, that We, as faithful Catholics, must adhere to the current teaching on the “ordination of women” believe that the leadership of Rome could not possibly be wrong and they believe this, because they must be divinely appointed, therefore they must speak for God. Yes, that is what the Jewish people thought too! In fact, that is what Saul thought! Saul was out to murder the Church, the new “Way” people. Saul was a respected member of the Jewish Church, though, he didn’t live in Jerusalem. Yet, he encounters the Risen Christ, who says to him, Saul, Saul, Why Do You Persecute Me? I would love, if the members of the CDF, encountered the great light of Christ surrounding them today!
    Then, the words might be “CDF, CDF”, Why are you persecuting me?”
    For every genuine vocation in Christ, that has been given to a woman in the Church, but is rejected, to that extent, it’s not even so much the woman in question, who is being persecuted, but Christ himself. We cannot have a vocation, unless, that vocation first exists within us as a “manifestation of the Spirit of Christ”. In the event, that the reformers are correct, that Women must have such a vocation rendered unto them, and We as a Church, will not do so, and largely because we take the lead from Rome, then everyone is guilty of the persecuting Christ and must answer the Lord, when he says, “My people, my people, Why Do You persecute me?

  37. Darlene Starrs

    How much error really exists in the Church today? The first error, and maybe the only error,is the “Abuse of Power” whether it comes from the Vatican or from any other ecclesial source and structure. This abuse of power puts obstacles in the way of the Church to fulfill the vision of Vatican II, the Coucil, that was, and is the creative handiwork of God. This umbrella error of the abuse of power has created other “abuses”, such as the covering up of scandals, prevents women from living out their full commitment to Christ and the Church, prevents people in second relationship from receiving Christ in the Bread, maintains a elitist hold on Eucharistic Celebrations, prevents priests from having truly, collegial relationships among themselves with their bishops, prevents the Kerygma from being preached by those who have been annointed to do so, outside the clerical appointment, and I’m sure you could add to the list. For those, who would oppose any change and challenge to the Church Institution, it must be because You have not been affected personally by anything Rome says or does, but you know that there are brothers and sisters in the Lord who have been. I should say, that there, are also, misunderstandings in our theology about many things, that eventually, hopefully will be corrected. Outside of the above error, I wish to say, that the error about God, or the heresy about God, that faces, the world in particular, is that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God. This is why we have much to do as the “Rock” of Christ. While we are on this earth, we want to be ecumenical in our thinking, but rest assured that when anyone takes their last breath, it is only, the Christ who has the authority to raise from the dead, therefore, our precious faith and belief of Christians says, that we are not just another religion among religions, because “Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life” and no one comes to the Father except through Him. This is why Jesus stresses even while living, that He is the Bread of Life and He/She who eats of this Bread has eternal life. If you “die in Christ”, you shall live with Christ”.
    This is why Christ leaves His spirit with us and why we received the commission to go out to the World, so that those who would belong to the Father, would return to the Father. Our mission as Church, received from Christ, is to “feed the people”. That’s why Jesus tells the disciples in the story with the fishes and the loaves. Feed them yourselves. Already, He’s letting them know what their ultimate purpose is and why He has them hanging around with Him. The world, and in particular, those who belong to the Father, need the “real food” of Christ. Anything or anyone within or without the Universal Church that impedes that mission is persecuting Christ, but is also, attempting to subvert his entire mission. Now, as it was at the time of the resurrection, and the birth of the Church, in the Upper Room, at Pentacost, we, as the “rock”, of Christ, the Church, remain commissioned to to go out to the whole world, preaching Christ and feeding the people.
    That remains our work and the “new evangelization”. Why, the topics of these web pages are important is because there are “abuses” that could stand in the way of the Mission. So, we must be aware of those things, and address them, as did Peter and the first apostles as they did there Mission. They also attended to matters within the community and so should we.

  38. Eddie Finnegan

    Darlene, I thought Jane’s spare eagle-fish parable was just perfect as it stood, without comment or interpretation, left for private reflection. I’ve always thought that Jesus really ruined some of his best parables,feeling compelled to enlarge and allegorise them because some of the Twelve were so damn stupid. Or maybe that was his later evangelists who felt compelled to improve upon the Rabbi. I suppose our online commentariat today has just copied some New Testament writers’ worst habits!

  39. Darlene Starrs

    Thank you Eddie……There was no intention to do as you say!

    As St. Paul says, when you speak, speak with Salt! Your disagreement is not with me, but with the Lord himself! You wouldn’t want to be silencing the women too, would you?

  40. Darlene Starrs

    In the event, that my previous response to Eddie is not printed because I took too long to edit it…………..

    I wouldn’t know if you are correctly speaking the sentiment of Jane. In the event, that you are, I apologize to Jane, if she felt that I had diluted or “painted over” her message. I wrote because her message inspired me and I appreciated what she said.
    As a matter of fact, even her name was a delight for me because my great, great grandmother of Ireland……..was a Jane Maguire. Perhaps, Eddie, for you, I am one of those lay people spouting, and I assure you Eddie, this is never my intent, rather, as a woman, in the Church, as with all women of the Church, in this instance, we have longed to have a voice and I so appreciate the ACP and their forum, so that at long last, the feminine perspective is watched and heard. I’m sorry that the words that come from are not what you would want or value, but I am certain that by the grace of God, there must be a reason for my speech.
    Certainly, St. Paul says, “when you speak, speak with salt”.

  41. Darlene Starrs

    Since it is the Feast Day of the Conversion of St. Paul today, I am reminded of 2 Corinthians Chapter two starting with verse 14 and ending with 17. I love this entire passage of scripture, but let me say with St. Paul…..”I am not some peddlar of God’s Word, but I speak sincerely in Christ.”

  42. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Thanks Paul (35) for the CNN link.

    It was my first sight of Tony Flannery in action and I can clearly see how he inspires people.

  43. Joe O'Leary

    Thanks to Paul Nolan for the link to the CNN interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw7fdj23bwY

    Fr Tony comes across as a sane man dealing with insanity.

    The word Kakfaesque comes to mind.

  44. Darlene Starrs

    This is an excellent interview with Father Flannery on CNN. I would have liked the interview to have been longer, but it is very enlightening, and I sincerely hope for more such interviews with him.

  45. Eddie Finnegan

    Oh dear! No, Darlene. Far be it from me to try to silence anyone on this site – certainly not women. Even Canute wasn’t really trying to turn back the tide, just demonstrating its impossibility. But I do prefer my parables and pithy sayings to be short and pithy. A little time-bomb for the heart and mind, untrammelled by words and exegesis. Jane’s eagle-fish image says more about CDF Prefect and CSsR Preacher than any essay of explanation. When that young fellow said to his mother, “Sure, didn’t you know I’d be on my father’s business?” she didn’t go home and write a blog on it. But I suppose that’s what Paul was on about when he said some had the gift of tongues and others a yen for interpreting them. Give me a bit of glossolalia any day.

  46. Sean O Duill

    Yes, Paul, thank you very much for the CNN link. I had no idea that Fr Flannery had been abused as a child. That helps a lot to understand the positions he has taken.

  47. Sean (Derry)

    Thanks Paul (35) for the CNN link.
    This was also my first sight of Fr Flannery but it was well worth listening to, if only to get a better insight into the man’s defence of his own belief system.
    With regards to his rejection of the Catholic priesthood being instituted by Christ, he managed to deal with this heresy by simply saying the problem in question regarded only ‘fairly obscure theological issues about the origins of the priesthood and the Church”.
    Glad that’s all easily sorted then.
    With regards to his position on women priests, contraception and homosexuality acts, Fr Flannery quickly takes care of these issues by stating that this is “what most Irish Catholics believe”.
    No problem there then. I can’t see what all the fuss is about.

  48. Bob Hayes

    To all those who wish the Church to reflect (rather than guide) souls in the twenty-first century, I ask you to pray that you do NOT get that which you seek. Think about what it is you say you want: a Church reflecting people’s lives and outlook today. Think about it!

    Yes, it is feasible that you would have a Church that ended clerical celibacy, embraced the ordination of women, the use of contraception, accepted homosexual acts and ‘gay marriage’ and managed its affairs by way of committees, listening groups, quality circles and consultations.

    But if the Church is really to embrace contemporary views, we will also have a Church that is ambivalent about abortion, moderately xenophobic, hostile to immigrants, Travelling and Romany people and (certainly in Britain and the US) ardently supportive of the death penalty.

    Now, do you really want the Church to reflect twenty-first century society?

  49. Nick Smith

    Hey, Father Flannery, I wouldn’t worry too much about excommunication. I was excommunicated by a Bishop in Iowa, USA, and he said in writing that excommunication was for madicinal reasons only and that the excommunicated remain Catholic. I have been a faithful Catholic for sixty some years, and now I am a faithful excommunicated Catholic following my own conscience and not the dictates of a hierarchy that covers up unspeakable crimes against children. Join us, the excommunicated, as real Catholics of RCWP following the path of true faith as Jesus established his Kindom.