15Mar Tony Flannery disputes Nuncio’s version of events

Listening to Papal Nuncio, Charles Brown, on Drivetime this evening was an irritating experience for me.
I would like to make two points clear in relation to what he said about the silencing of priests.
1. Any action taken against me did not have its origin with my Religious Superiors, as he implied. My superiors made it very clear to me all through the process that they were acting under orders from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and that the complaint about my writings came from a source “high up” in the Irish church.
2. I did remain silent for a year while I attempted to sort out the difficulties between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (where Charles Brown previously worked) and me. I decided to speak publicly when it appeared that there was no further possibility of reaching a conclusion with which I could live. Recent developments give me some hope that things may change.
I also find it hard to accept that the Papal Nuncio was as unaware of the situation as he suggested and I dismiss his advice to Mary Wilson that she should ask the Religious Superiors for any information on the “silencing”. Furthermore, he chose to interpret “silence” rather broadly when he stated that those of us who are “silenced” are still writing and speaking on media. I have very good reason to understand “silencing” within the context of the interview. For me, it has meant indefinite removal from ministry.
Tony Flannery

23 Responses

  1. roy donovan

    I too was irritated listening to this Interview and found it incredible that the Papal Nuncio was so unawares as he suggested. I find that Sr. Joan Chittester (Article in NCR, 14/3/2013; “Who are the people who were waiting for Pope Francis?”) put it very well that people “are weary of asking questions that get no answers”. She continues that for so many people out there “It’s weariness, weariness, weariness”. I add it is wearisome to hear those who are happy just to throw out the ‘party line’. It’s a joy, in contrast to listen to the New Pope Frances though can someone tell him as one woman suggested to use inclusive language; and not make women invisible. I would suggest that there are a lot of people at the moment who need a huge amount of hope. I take hope from this morning’s psalm “The Lord is close to those whose spirit is crushed”.

  2. June McAllister

    Thank you, Tony, for clarification. I do hope Charles Brown has time to read your article so that he better understands the situation.

    Jesus described himself as ‘The Way, the Truth and the Life’ – a lot more truth would be no bad thing!

  3. Brendan Butler

    The Papal Nuncio is like Pilate : washing his and the Vatican’s hands of any knowledge or part of the ‘silencing ‘ of our priests .’ Archbishop Brown we are not fools or eejits here in Ireland.’ We know that through its devious and unjust procedures the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith was fully responsible for using its pressure on the Superior Generals of religious orders in Rome to silence our religious order priests . Please do not insult my intelligence by disclaiming knowledge and possibly part in these ‘silences ‘ .

  4. Joan Murphy

    Charles Brown not being aware about the issues surrounding the ‘silencing’ of priests echos what Rome told us when we queried what the authorities there knew about the abuse of children in our church.
    They always blame someone else.
    Truth is the loser in his remarks.
    We can only hope and pray that perhaps with the new Pope truth and justice for all – children and priests- will become a basic right within our catholic church again.

  5. Pól Ó Duibhir

    That was a disgraceful interview performance by the Nuncio. It reflected the same approach as the previous Pope’s letter to the Irish people in 2010. Buck passing and dismissive of the worth and sincerity of those who have been silenced.
    .
    The Nuncio knows the score. He worked in the CDF. He was just playing politics here. After all that’s probably why he is a Nuncio to Ireland in the first place.
    .
    For a lighthearted take (if that’s possible) on the Nuncio, try this.
    http://dominusvobiscuit.blogspot.ie/2012/04/tacitus-aut.html
    .

  6. Brendan Cafferty

    I am disappointed the Nuncio would express such views. Everyone knows that CDF began this process, and it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. We (lay people) all know what silenced means-removal of ministry,and the good nuncio should know that those priests did not have their vocal chords severed! Archbishop Brown should be aware more than most of the procedure, and I am frankly disappointed in him.

    However with the new Pope maybe the winds of change may begin to blow, if not the future is bleak, but when one least expects it changes comes very fast indeed. I suspect Francis is a big man in every way and this idiocy of trying to make heretics out of good faithful priests must end at once.

  7. Elizabeth

    I really think it’s time to start a new Church, the hierarchy presently care for no one but themselves.

  8. ger gleeson

    I agree totally with Brendan Butler @3 above. I would add that Charles Brown will have as much impact on the Irish Church as his predecessor. Now what was his name??????????

  9. Brendan Hoban SSC

    Thanks for that, Tony. I heard it too and found it very much lacking in honesty which I believe is absolutely necessary in our Church today. For the Nuncio, who comes from the CDF background, to try and distance himself from silencing of priests is a shameful thing. As the Vatican representative here in Ireland rather than reflecting the voice of the Irish Church (even if not the bishops of the Irish Church), he comes across clearly as which side he is on. To finish with his wish that he be able to fill all the vacant episcopal seats, I see as a very low bar to have to clear in an Irish Church with so much hurt, pain and suffering that can be moved from despair to hope and love. Brendan Hoban SSC

  10. Pól Ó Duibhir

    re 9 above, agreed.
    .
    I haven’t time to do a cartoon of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. You’ll just have to use your imagination.
    .
    And just for the record, I did hear the interview live and I have almost calmed down, but not quite.
    .

  11. Rosaline

    I have to say that when I heard that interview I felt physically sick in the pit of my stomach. Enough said.
    As for June (3), “I do hope Charles Brown has time to read your article so that he better understands the situation.” Sorry, June. I find that quite ludicrous in light of everything we already know about Tony’s situation.

  12. Brendan Cafferty

    re the Nuncio hoping to fill all the vacancies in the Hierarchy, what has happened to the amalgamation of some smaller dioceses. Surely if parishes can be clustered, some without priests, the same should happen with Bishops. Some such dioceses have about only half of what they had thirty years ago. Joe Rea a colourful former IFA leader once spoke in reference to the holding on of civil servants by Teagasc when offices had closed, compared it to closing down railway lines, but holding on to the station masters !

  13. June McAllister

    Rosaline (11) I’m sorry you were not able to take on board my sarcasm. I am not disputing public knowledge of Tony’s situation. I am saying that Charles Brown, too long ensconced in the make-believe, non-Christian, male dictatorial world of the Vatican, lacks understanding of how people feel and think. Truth and integrity are essential attributes in Christianity, and it is not unusual for bullies to hide behind lies. Charles Brown would benefit enormously from going onto this site and coming into contact with how Christians feel and think. Christians who care about our Church. He would learn a great deal and be happier for it. As a Christian leader he has the responsibility of service, he is there to ‘wash our feet’, Tony’s feet, not to destroy or dominate with a power structure that does not come from God. I hope my thoughts do not cause any offence, either to you or to anyone else.

  14. sean o' sullivan

    I share everybody’s dismay at the blatant dishonesty of the Nuncio. It only confirms my worst fear that he will only add further disenchantment to the frustration of concerned laity. Does he care – I would suggest not. I intend sending the Nuncio an e-mail expressing my dismay, it’s the minimum I can contribute. I sincerely believe that Francis the First would / will act differently – only time will tell. God help us.

  15. Sandra Mc Sheaffrey

    I listened and found it disgraceful. I looked up the job description of a papal nuncio. I found an address by the nuncio to New Zealand that sets out the history of the tradition. However, the name nuncio is self explanatory and there is no need really to look it up. The nuncio speaks for the Pope. Full stop. He has no right to fudge. My first boss taught me: when you are in charge, the buck stops with you. Really, how can he possibly think anyone would believe him? Shame on you, to quote from Ice Age.
    Thanks to Pól for link to dominusvobiscuit. I have been waiting for a ‘Charlie Brown’ cartoon to show up.

  16. Raymond Hickey

    I nearly crashed my car into the ditch when I heard the interview. They should issue a warning to the public before they broadcast anything by a Vatican official! Now, I ask you, whose version of the events do you think are more believable, that of Charlie Brown or that of Tony Flannery?

  17. Maire

    What a positive step Sean@14 is wiling to take by emailing the Nuncio to express his dismay. Would it help the cause of those great men, who are being so cruelly treated by those who profess to know better, if we the laity filled the Nuncio’s inbox with our emails in support of Fr Tony, Brian and the many others? Where does one find his email address?

  18. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Most of the sites with contact details for the Nunciature (eg Irish Bishops Conference) give only the physical address, phone and fax.
    .
    However http://embassypages.com gives nuncioirl@eircom.net (as in Nuncio Irl). As the rest of their information is up to date, I assume it’s reliable.
    .

  19. Willie Herlihy

    I am shocked and disgusted at the behavior of the Papal Nuncio, Charles Brown, he, having worked in the CDF, to trot out the old line “don’t ask me, ask his superior”.
    He, more than any one knows how the secretive medieval system works.

    The procedure is carried out as follows:
    • Writings of a priest are denounced, often anonymously, to the CDF.
    • The CDF appoints an anonymous consulter to investigate.
    • The head of the order is commanded to appear before the CDF and renunciation of the accuser’s work is demanded.
    • On non-compliance, the superior is ordered to impose sanctions on the accused, ranging from censoring of their work, to threats of the removal of their rights to exercise priestly faculties.

    I am an old man now, completely disillusioned with the behavior of the authorities in my church, towards a man who has given sterling service to my church, over nearly forty years. Giving missions all over the country.
    The one ray of hope I have, is that Pope Francis1, will rescue our church from the medieval pit, into which his two predecessors have dragged it. I feel the same excitement now, as I did during the pontificate of the great Pope John XX111.

  20. Darlene Starrs

    I think Papal Nuncios and bishops around the globe are going to find themselves in conflict with our new pope, if they do not clean up their clerical act!

  21. Soline Humbert

    There should be a (spiritual)health warning sign outside the nunciature in Dublin:”Danger!Mental Reservation”.

  22. Paddy Ferry

    It is absolutely disgraceful that the Nuncio could not speak truthfully and honestly in that Drivetime interview. And, how come we haven’t heard from Anne who kept telling us what a wonderfful man he is. This is really sickening. I am disgusted. Well done, Tony, for putting the record straight and Mary Cunningham too.

  23. Pól Ó Duibhir

    I like the ambiguity in “Mental Reservation”.
    .