10Apr Six Years Later, anyone willing to right a wrong?

It was this month, April, six years ago when I was ordered by the CDF/Redemptorist superiors to step down from priestly ministry. There was a short period during the summer months when I was allowed back, while efforts were being made to sort things out, and then in September the sanction was re-enforced, and remains to this day.

For various reasons, thoughts of that year, with all its stresses and strains, its drama, and the struggle making major, life changing, decisions, is coming back to me now. I think that for the most part I have moved on with my life, and most of the time I don’t miss public ministry very much. But every now and again the memories of that time come back clearly, and I know that there is still a residue of hurt, regret and sadness.

A lot has changed in the Church since that time six years ago. Benedict was still in office back then; Gerhard Muller was in all his pomp as head of the CDF, and they ruled the roost in the Vatican, and indeed in the Church.

Now Francis has just completed five years, and while some complain that his reforms are not sufficient, he has, I believe, dramatically changed the mood within the Church. Muller is gone, the CDF has largely lost its power, and the days of heresy hunting are over, at least for the present. Francis has introduced an openness and freedom of opinion and speech in the Church that we haven’t seen since those days immediately after the Vatican Council in the nineteen sixties.
He has, of course, got his opponents, and they are not shy about public dissent from his words and actions. It is ironic that those who were most diligent in imposing orthodoxy in the previous regimes, silencing anyone who raised even the mildest questions about issues in the Church, are now the loudest in criticising and condemning Francis.
Cardinal Burke and his cohorts are vociferous in their condemnation of the Pope, and even Muller is not averse to firing shots across the Papal bow. This does annoy me, when I allow myself to think about it.
For example, Burke’s criticisms of the Pope go way beyond anything myself or others like me ever said or wrote. And yet there is no move to silence him or the others. They are allowed complete freedom to express their opinions, and to organize their conferences, while continuing to minister in full standing within the Church, (I don’t have a problem with that in itself; I think that is the way it should be in our Church) while I remain outside the fold, unable to do my priestly work, branded a heretic, and left in this ‘limbo’ state.

The three issues on which I was sidelined – the origin and nature of priesthood, aspects of Catholic sexual teaching, the ordination of women – are now being freely discussed and debated right across the Church. And most reasonable people would agree that they all need to be discussed, since there are legitimate questions that need resolution in all of them. When I read and hear these discussions going on I sometimes say to myself: ‘Why exactly am I in the situation in which I find myself?’

I do actually believe that my Redemptorist superiors, or indeed the Irish bishops, if they really wanted to, could do something in this present very different climate in the Church, to get the sanctions against me lifted, and to restore my good name.

My biggest complaint from the beginning was the unjust and unlawful procedures that were used to judge and condemn me. It does surprise me that my superiors seem to have no concern about righting that wrong. Apart entirely from what it would do for me personally, it would be a great message that the Church had changed, and that in future people would be treated in a more fair and just manner. I believe this is one of the essential reforms needed. As long as the Church continues to operate kangaroo courts, which drive a coach and four through the most fundamental aspects of human rights, it will not have credibility In the modern world. I would have expected my superiors to show some action in this regard, and I am disappointed that they have not done so.

With Pope Francis coming to this country next August, it is important that everything possible is done in preparation for his visit to ensure that he will be well received, as he certainly deserves to be. If the Irish bishops really cared about justice and fairness in the Church they would be making representation through the channels open to them to ensure that the various sanctions imposed on the five living and one dead priests because of writings during the pontificate of Pope Benedict, would be lifted. If Cardinals Burke, Muller and others can openly defy the Pope without any sanctions, it is ridiculous that we, all of us being strong supporters of Francis, remain sanctioned. That action in itself would be very well received by the large majority of Irish people, and would help to create the type of openness and welcome that is necessary for the August event to be a success.

I am not holding my breath. The various levels of authority above me in the Church show all the signs of doing what past generations in their position have done. They will happily leave me where I am. If I die suddenly, they will say ‘nice meaningless words’ over my coffin. If I die of some lingering disease they will probably come with some form of ‘pardon for my sins’, as they partially did for Sean Fagan. If it comes to that, I hope I will be sufficiently alert to say ‘No, thanks’.

Tony Flannery

33 Responses

  1. Bernard Whelan

    “My biggest complaint from the beginning,” writes Father Tony, “was the unjust and unlawful procedures that were used to judge and condemn me.” As he narrates in his book A Question of Conscience, he was accused and found guilty, without being given any opportunity to defend himself.
    Before Christ was condemned, he was given an opportunity to defend himself, before the Sanhedrin (Matthew, 26, 62) and again before Pilate (Matthew, 27, 13).
    Before the first martyr, St Stephen, was stoned, he too was given that opportunity (Acts, 7, 1).
    Does it not bring shame on the today’s Roman Institution, that those who condemned Christ and his first martyr to death worked to a higher standard of justice than those who condemned Father Tony to silence?

  2. Brian Passman

    I am an 84 year old Catholic priest who finds Tony Flannery and his book ‘A Question of Conscience’ an inspiration. His dedication to truth has brought down upon him an isolation from all he has known since his teenage years which must be a daily agony. Anyone who cares about truth must want to support Tony and others like him. What can we do? What would Tony advise? It’s time to stop wringing our hands in despair and do something. Speak to me.

  3. Gerry O'Hanlon

    Tony Flannery, by any humane standard, has been treated most unfairly.
    The visit of Pope Francis offers a real opportunity to right the injustice of his case and that of several others. I suggest that we in the ACP write formally again to the Episcopal Conference, the Papal Nuncio and the Pope himself to this effect.

  4. Frances Burke

    Great article Tony and you clearly explain how the powerful silenced you and how they are now trying to silence the pope himself. He’s also a heretic (in their eyes) so your in good company!! I wonder have these Cardinals any mirrors in their palaces.

    You are one courageous man and I thank you for standing up for your beliefs, ones if implemented will result in a stronger Church. It is brave people like you show us the lead and we need to support you to face down the tyranny of oppressors. I’d imagine you have had a very lonely battle.

    The ACP need to get deeply involved in rectifying this miscarriage of justice.

  5. Pádraig McCarthy

    I wrote three or four times to the previous Nuncio, Charles Brown, about the injustice of the situation for Tony and others.
    I received replies, none of which addressed the issues raised!

    Would it help, I wonder, if 1,000 or 10,000 people signed a letter to the new Nuncio, Jude Thaddeus Okolo?
    After all, Jude Thaddeus is the patron saint of hopeless cases!
    Not, of course, that Tony could ever be described as hopeless …

  6. Ned Quinn

    For me, the saddest aspect of the situation in which Tony finds himself – is the failure of the Redemptorist Leadership to support him. How can they abandon their brother who has given a lifetime of service. Et tu Brute?

  7. Joe O'Leary

    Time for Pope Francis to resolve this scandalous situation graciously and to apologize also to Sean Fagan (or must he wait as long as Galileo?). That would be a reassuring gesture to the Irish people on the eve of the papal visit.

  8. Luke Scully

    I’m extremely sympathetic to Tony, and he’s a hugely valuable voice in Irish Catholicism (such as it is). But, his logic is really very flawed in this article. Burke and the others are objecting to the Pope’s leadership and their perceptions of what he thinks about Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. Tony, unless I’m wrong, objects to core Catholic teaching about the priesthood and the Eucharist. Whether he’s right or wrong, there’s a world in the difference.

    Also, if he objects to being silenced, I don’t think it’s very credible to say the others should be silenced because I am!

  9. Tim Hazelwood

    Solidarity Tony.

    I am wondering if the continuing silence and inactivity by those in positions of authority in sorting Tony’s situation has anything to do with being a deterrent to keep others silent.

    Fr Paul Keys has written an autobiographical story that hits the nail on the head for me.
    “As one successful old pastor put it to me when I was first ordained:’father, you must understand that the Church is not a playground. It is more like an army. I am the General and you young curates are my lieutenants. We can’t allow, confusion, disrespect, or subversion among the troops.”

    Heaven forbid that honest, open dialogue would be encouraged.

  10. Mary Vallely

    No, don’t hold your breath, Tony. Not a wise thing to do as you will need every single breath to continue fighting and raging against the injustice. You are probably right in that they are waiting for you to either die or give up and wither away. That failure of your superiors and the hierarchy to give you any support is the worst sort of crime, showing a complete lack of care, consideration and love. Ironic when love is supposed to be the hallmark of those labelling themselves Christian.
    Keep the heart up and get on with living a full life doing what you do best. Your hurt, disappointment, anger and feelings of abandonment are understandable. Don’t let those who lack courage make you feel any worse. Continue to concentrate on the positives and I am sure the Holy Spirit has his/ her reasons why you are where you are. I agree with Gerry and Pádraig that letters should be written to the Nuncio etc; What about the 1000+ ACP priest supporters? Time to get your pens out and flood those letter boxes with proper letters in support of Tony and all those unjustly treated. To do nothing is to collude in that injustice.
    Our late colleague, Ger, would have sighed, “ Jesus wept.”

  11. Kay McGinty

    After reading Tony’s article I can only hope and pray that Pope Francis during his brief visit here will lift the silence ban on Tony and his fellow priests and the late Fr Sean Fagan.. enough is enough.. it certainly would go someway in showing an acceptance of the challenges and changes taking place in the church here in Ireland and open the windows to let in some bright light and fresh air.. so badly needed.. Tony, I support you all the way and wish you well in your endeavours.

  12. Máire Ní Fhloinn

    I think your idea Pádraig @5 1,000 or 10,000 people to sign a letter is a great idea.

  13. Patrick O'Sullivan

    We are in solidarity with you, Tony.
    It’s kind of embarrassing that Tony would have had to make the plea himself. Shame on us all, but especially Redemptorists, not to have taken an initiative in this case. I believe that Pope Francis would be quite open to making this a ‘year of grace’ for the Irish Church and rectifying the situation of all those still under a cloud because of the actions of the CDF. A signed letter would help and would spread the news.
    I also think, though, that there are many other priests out there, unjustly silenced by their dioceses or congregations, without much hope of ever reaching closure in their cases. In some, there has been judicial closure, but Dioceses simply refuse to engage and reinstate those involved. The ACP should address this issue with the Bishops and dioceses in question. Tony knows that he has the support of so many people, but for other priests there is no such show of support.

  14. Mattie Long

    Luke,(8)
    I think it might help to re-read Tony’s article. He very clearly states that he would not want those who express criticism of the Pope to be silenced, even if he expresses a very understandable human annoyance that he has been silenced for what they are doing, expressing opinions.

    “They are allowed complete freedom to express their opinions, and to organize their conferences, while continuing to minister in full standing within the Church, (I don’t have a problem with that in itself; I think that is the way it should be in our Church) while I remain outside the fold, unable to do my priestly work, branded a heretic, and left in this ‘limbo’ state.”

    Tony also states the reasons, at least the ones that he is aware of, for the action that was taken against him;

    “The three issues on which I was sidelined – the origin and nature of priesthood, aspects of Catholic sexual teaching, the ordination of women – “

    As he says these are topics that are now being actively discussed by members of the church.
    I have read a good deal by Tony Flannery and I think the essence of his argument is that the church needs to be able to communicate old truths in new ways; ways that make sense, and can be understood in, and by, the modern world. He calls for an educated and informed understanding at how the catholic priesthood, as we now understand it, has evolved and developed since those first disciples walked with Jesus. I don’t think any scholars deny that this evolution has occurred.
    He is also willing to confront what he sees as injustice in the church and his perception is that the way women have been regarded and treated by the institutional church is just that, an injustice. It is an opinion shared by many many people inside and outside of the church and sadly has resulted in many women, and men, walking away from the institutional church if not from their faith in Jesus Christ.
    It is ironic that Tony and others remain in the ‘limbo’ state that they have been placed in while these topics are being debated openly. In fact Pope Francis encourages debate and dialogue and it is being reported that at the end of their recent plenary meeting members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America proposed that the church hold a Synod of Bishops “on the theme of the woman in the life and mission of the church.”
    I don’t see how this can happen without a frank discussion of all the issues that Tony was censured for discussing.
    While the injustice of what was done to Tony and others remains, while they remain victims of anonymous complaints and secretive procedures totally lacking in transparency and due process, I don’t think that church authorities will be seen by a large number of people ‘to be speaking with authority’ when making pronouncements on issues to do with justice, morality, or rights.
    Pope Francis has had the moral courage to admit he made serious mistakes in dealing with the allegations of abuse in Chile. He needs to admit that the CDF, acting in the name of the church, has done likewise in Tony’s case and in the case of others who have been censured for debating and discussing contentious issues of faith and theology.

  15. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    I don’t understand. When we all look back in 50 years time, that mistake of censuring Tony led to the greatest mobilisation of Catholics in recent years. Please bring on these mistakes because the reform movement grows and flourished in their presence.

    I feel terrible for Tony and people like Tony who are silenced in the face of great injustice but at least Tony has a voice and finds a voice through tens if not hundreds of thousands of supporters world-wide.

    In my midst, those voiceless who are fighting against deeper injustices, face some of the worst conditions inflicted on Canadians on a daily basis – I know this is not the forum to voice those concerns but dear Tony, draw strength that the “powers that be” who wish that we remain silent, will have their day in a courtroom, of this celestial plane or not.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0nsOLYF6As

  16. William Herlihy

    Fr Tony, I salute you in your struggle to clear your name and I wish you well.
    One thing the ACP could do,is circulate a letter of support to all contributors, requesting a signature, or permission to use our email address.

    Sadly,Tony depending on support from the Irish Bishops is a waste of time.
    The Irish Bishops are a product of Pope John Paul II’s infamous template.
    This template, essentially required sound men, with a strong Marian devotion who would do Rome’s bidding,leadership ability and thinking outside the box were strictly off limits.
    We have one notable exception in Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
    We now have a reforming Pope,but sadly the Bishops are still looking over their shoulders,at what I like to call the (self appointed defenders of orthodoxy).
    There is a sprinkling of them in every parish and they punch way above their weight.They still get a ready hearing in the Curia, you might find that hard to believe.I can tell you from experience the Bishops are terrified of them.

  17. David O@Neill

    This injustice daily grows greater and cries to God. It has moved beyond wringing our hands and . . . well, doing nothing.
    Is it time for letters to the press, and an appeal to TV to do a documentary? Only embarrassment and shame will move the flaccid bishops and supine superiors to action. Name names and identify ‘co-operators in evil’.

  18. Eddie Finnegan

    As Patrick O’Sullivan@13 says it’s more than embarrassing, it’s downright shameful that Tony himself should have to shed light once again on what too many, especially Irish Bishops and Religious Superiors, would prefer to keep or leave in darkness. Think Lord Denning’s “appalling vista” re the Birmingham Six. Think Guantanamo Bay. Think all the other horrors and injustices that polite people like us and sanctimonious shepherds in parishes, chapters of canons or ‘councils of priests’, or even pastoral councils in parish or diocese, would never touch with a bargepole.

    I agree totally with all those above on the need for a vigorous campaign of letter writing to those who are relevant and in position to do something positive and with no further foot-dragging for Tony and others while they are still here to accept the Official Church’s abject apology. But, as Fr Brian Passman warns, no point in sitting around wringing our hands over our keyboards or thumbing our repetitive solutions through our smart phones.

    There’s a short period of less than nine weeks till the Irish Bishops’ summer meeting at Maynooth. Then from 13th June there’s another short interval of less than ten weeks till the WMoF and Pope Francis’s visit. The Bishops and Papal Nuncio must have the Petition with a myriad signatures, as Máire Ní Fhloinn@12 suggests, several weeks before their 11-13th June Meeting, with a clear demand for an Agenda slot integrated with their WMoF-Pope’s Visit discussion. It should be made clear that immediate Action is required by Bishops’ Conference, or a sub-committee of the four Archbishops with, maybe, four other pastoral bishops in consultation with Provincial Superiors of the relevant Orders or Congregations. The desired outcome would be a Statement of Apology and Restoration in favour of the silenced and injured priests, which perhaps Ab Diarmuid Martin could convey to Pope Francis by, say, 1st August with the understanding that this would form part of Francis’s Family Message to the Irish Church.

    But this ‘petition of remonstrance’ needs to be prepared, signatures collected (both online and in parishes) and delivered to the President and Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference within the next four-five weeks, i.e by mid-May latest. It needs to be LED and, as Mary@10 suggests, who better to form the vanguard than the 1000+ ACP Members. It has to be said, once again, that the majority of diocesan priests – even of diocesan priests who joined this ‘reform group’ since September 2010 – have, for whatever reason, kept their heads below the parapet. Now may be the Kairos moment to dare to peep over that parapet, discover their voice and have their say on behalf of their (mainly) non-diocesan brothers whose sane and commonsensical writings on subjects we rarely hear broached in Sunday parish homilies have led to their being delated, censored, silenced and forgotten, in spite of what they have contributed over long lifetimes, often to the very parishes whose incumbents know it’s safer to leave real matters of faith and life untouched.

    No priest ever joined the ACP just for the insurance or reassurance, surely? Now is the time to dare to be a little bold.

  19. Joe O'Leary

    I’d be happy to sign such a petition. A problem is that the CDF is a bureaucracy, and it’s almost impossible to argue with bureaucracies.

    Once they have ticked the boxes that cover your “case” they are very loth to alter it. It’s not that they do a deep theological study of the people whose writings they assess — rather they pick up the propositions that delators send them and check them against a dogmatic grid. If they catch you in an apparent dogmatic slip, causa finita est.

    If powerful advocates argue your case the bureaucrats may in the end issue some Notification that will blunt or dilute the first summary judgements, but even if you get off with a blank sheet you will always remain under suspicion.

    At least that’s the impression I got from reading the two books about the Jacques Dupuis affair: William Burrows, “Jacques Dupuis Faces the Inquistion” and Gerard O’Collins, “Do Not Quench the Spirit.”

    Of course now we are in the new regime of Pope Francis. But look at the trouble he had with Cardinal Muller, who claimed that the CDF is there to give the pope a theological framework. I don’t know of any pope ever overriding the CDF (Holy Office, Inquisition) — can anyone think of an example?

  20. Máire Ní Fhloinn

    Eddie@18, the suggestion was Pádraig@5. I was just endorsing that wonderful idea that as many signatures as possible might/ should/ could help to bring Tony’ s totally unjustifiable, not forgetting the other great men who find themselves in a similar situation, treatement to an end.

  21. Brendan Cafferty

    I was wondering if anything was afoot on Fr Tony’s and other priests cases as there appeared to be some silence around the issue of late.Now is the time to act while there are a few short months left before Pope Francis arrives here.Tony and others make the salient point that those like Burke and Muller are free to protest and make their stand without sanction which they denied to others. I would suggest that a delegation from the ACP ask to meet the Pontiff on his visit here, he seems to be willing to meet many groups, surely he might not refuse such a request. It is a matter of justice and fair play. When we look at the Dislosures Tribunal we see the reputed lengths those in authority allegedly will go to behind the scenes to make their case stick. I have often thought there may be some of this in Fr Tony’s case? Time is not on our side and I find it is sad that Tony should be thinking of the Sean Fagan episode where he got a partial restoration on his death bed.Lets act now.

  22. Phil Greene

    Let us laypeople know if we can do to help too.
    Pope Francis is a leader who sees us all as part of God’s church.
    Thankfully Tony you have brought so many positives to a terrible situation that would crush others. Stay strong and hopefully the good fight will be won this time.

  23. Max Stetter

    In the name of the Association of Catholic Priests in Germany we support any move to end the unjust and unlawful measures that led to judgement and condemnation of Tony Flannery

  24. Pascal O'Dea

    Its demoralising to see the treatment of Tony and others.If Pope Francis can acknowledge his failings regarding his handling of survivors of clerical abuse in Chile,can our own Church leaders including leaders of religious orders reflect on Francis’s example and consider the plight of the censured .

  25. Bernard Kennedy

    ‘ To hear the other side’ is basic principle of justice. In Acts of the apostles Chapter 25.16 ‘the accused is to confront his accusers and given the opportunity to defend himself’. How clear is that! Anything else is abuse of authority and allows bullying manipulation from the dark shadows. Tony has been wrongly treated, as have others. Let us Pray to The Lord.

  26. Adrian Grenham

    Hmm, you say that “….they all need to be discussed, since there are legitimate questions that need resolution in all of them”. It would appear from your other writings that your definition of ‘resolution’ is only achieved when the Church agrees with your own views.

  27. Paddy Ferry

    I agree with everything everybody has written above except @6 and @26. I agree completely with Padraig’s idea of a signed petition and I am so pleased and impressed that he took it upon himself to write to the previous Nuncio. I would be very happy to sign such a petition and I also agree with Eddie on the importance of a definite time table for this. I haven’t much faith in the Irish Bishops. I always thought that Diarmuid Martin was the best of them –still do, I suppose. I met him here in Edinburgh at an ecumenical gathering a few years at a conference on Towards Common Vision of Church. I knew he was to be one of the speakers and so I knew I would have the chance to speak to him and this would be my big chance to voice my concerns over the scandal of the unjust treatment of Tony and others by Rome. We had a very pleasant chat; I told him where I was from and his mother was also from Donegal too, he told me. Eventually, I did my well-rehearsed spiel on the scandal and the embarrassment we all feel because of how Tony and others have been treated “and surely somebody in your position could take steps to put an end to it”. Well, he certainly was not up for that. I felt disappointed. But did I really expect him to take much notice of what I had to say to him ? I suppose not.
    The Vatican, of course, also claims to be a sovereign state. So, how about taking the secular route. Would our present Taoiseach or Minister for Foreign Affairs be willing to take on this cause.? With the Popes visit coming up they would surely be in a strong position. At a time like this we might have benefited from still having Enda around though I suppose Enda was well aware of this shameful state of affairs for much of his time as Taoiseach.
    Someone above mentioned the role of Tony’s Redemptorist Superiors. They certainly should all hang their heads in total shame.
    However, I also agree with Phil @22. Tony has brought so many positives to this terrible situation and I really think he has now become a real prophet in the true biblical sense.

  28. Frances Burke

    I think this homily is for you Tony

    https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-04/pope-francis-santa-marta-the-church-needs-prophets.html#.WtXeP6iuXxk.twitter

    Pope at Mass: The Church needs prophets

    Pope Francis’s homily on Tuesday morning focused on the liturgical reading that narrates the stoning of St. Stephen, the Church’s first martyr.
    By Linda Bordoni
    Speaking during his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said a true prophet is he who is capable of weeping for his people who do not heed him.
    He reflected on the liturgical reading of the day in which Stephen accused the people, the elders and the scribes of being stiff-necked people who always oppose the Holy Spirit, and just like their ancestors did, they persecute the prophets.
    Francis said that those people did not have open hearts, they did not want to listen to Stephen and they did not remember the history of Israel.
    Persecuted for speaking the truth
    Just like their ancestors persecuted the prophets – the Pope said – those elders and scribes who were so infuriated rushed upon Stephen, threw him out of the city and began to stone him.
    “When the prophet speaks the truth and touches the heart, or the heart opens or becomes stone, anger and persecutions are unleashed” he said “that’s how life ends for the prophet”.
    A true prophet weeps for his people
    “Sometimes truth is not easy to listen to” Francis pointed out noting that “prophets have always had to deal with being persecuted for speaking the truth.
    A true prophet, he added, is he who not only speaks the truth, but is capable of weeping for his people who turn away from the truth.
    And he recalled Jesus who, on the one hand reprimanded his people severely calling them an “evil and adulterous generation” and on the other, weeping for Jerusalem.
    “A true prophet is he who is capable of weeping for his people but at the same time of saying strong things in a direct way” he said.
    Giving hope
    And developing his theme further, Pope Francis described a true prophet as someone who is also capable of giving hope: “Opening the doors of hearts, healing roots, reinforcing the sense of belonging to the people of God in order to go forward.
    “A prophet knows when to scold but knows also how to throw open the doors to hope. A true prophet puts himself on the line” he said.
    The Church needs prophets
    Recalling Stephen who is put to death under Saul’s eyes in order to be coherent with the truth, the Pope quoted from one of the first Fathers of the Church saying: “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians”.
    “The Church needs prophets. What’s more: it needs each of us to be prophets, not critics… this is something else” he said.
    He who just criticizes and is never happy with anything is not a prophet, Francis explained, a prophet is he who prays, looks to God, looks at his people and when the people err, he weeps.
    “May this service of prophecy never be lacking in the Church, Francis concluded, in order to be able to always go forward”.

  29. Ned Quinn

    Paddy Ferry.
    You say you don’t agree with me. Would you like to re-visit that remark. In your last paragraph we seem to be making the same point.

  30. Eddie Finnegan

    Ned@29. I’d guess that Paddy@27 in agreeing with Phil@22 fell into a typo over Luke@8 and you@6. Hope that’s clear!

    Frances@28, do you think that the case of Deacon Stephen’s speech and martyrdom has left the Church’s top brass scared ever since that deacons (male or female) will ‘in a similar manner’ be lured into mission creep and forget that they were just appointed to ‘wait on tables’ and look after the widows while the Twelve did the real evangelisation?

  31. Paddy Ferry

    Ned, I am so sorry. I meant @8 and @26. I was writing very late last night. I completely agree with you as you can see from my penultimate sentence. I should say too that Mattie dealt with@6 beautifully. Some man !!
    Ned, say hello to our mutual friend Denis for me.

  32. Paddy Ferry

    Thanks, Eddie@30

  33. Frances Burke

    Eddie @30

    The hierarchical Church is in the business of control. As Tim referenced @9, the Church resembles the military with a top down chain of command. St Stephen fell out of favor with the powerful as they did not like what he was preaching. They made false allegations against him and he was stoned to death on the basis of those false allegations. Two millennia later dissenters are ‘silenced’ to death. As Tony said in his article “My biggest complaint from the beginning was the unjust and unlawful procedures that were used to judge and condemn me”. Again the powerful use whatever means they have to suppress that which they do not wish to hear.

    I have seen very little evidence of ‘real evangelisation’ within the Church. What I have seen is ample evidence of control within the Church.

    The message that comes across very clearly from this sorry saga is that free thinking and open dialogue are not encouraged by the hierarchy. Is this because they are scared by it? I’m afraid I couldn’t possibly answer that one Eddie. Maybe some of the ‘top brass’ would answer that for us.

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