A Galway priest has said the Vatican’s demand for silence is “too high a price” for a return to his priestly duties.
Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery from Attymon in Athenry spoke out amid threats from the Vatican that he could be excommunicated
from the Catholic Church if he continued to air his controversial
The local priest said he had received a letter from Vatican’s
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith instructing him to refrain
from publishing any further articles outlining his views and to have no
further involvement with the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP).
Fr Flannery, who has been prevented from ministering as a priest for
the last year, was also instructed to write, sign and publish a article
accepting that the Catholic Church can never ordain women to the
priesthood, accepting all Church stances on contraception and
homosexuality, and the refusal of the sacraments to people in second
However, in a public statement on Monday, Fr Flannery reiterated that
he would not put his name to a document “that would be a lie” and
“impugn my integrity and my conscience” and said he was now facing the
reality of “never again ministering as a priest”.
“This was the beginning of what is now almost a year of tension,
stress and difficult decision-making in my life. Initially, my policy
was to see if some compromise was possible, and it seemed in early
summer this was a real possibility. But I gradually became aware that
the CDF continually raised the bar, until it got to the point where I
could no longer negotiate,” he said.
He revealed that he was now temporarily stepping down from his
position of leadership with the ACP and that he made the decision to
speak on his censorship in order to “take back my voice”.
“I have always believed in the church as the community of believers
and as an essential element in promoting and nourishing the faith. I
have enjoyed my years of preaching, the main work of Redemptorists, and
never had any doubt that Christ’s message was one worth proclaiming. But to give up on freedom of thought, freedom of speech and most
especially freedom of conscience is too high a price for me to pay to be
allowed minister in today’s church.”
Responding to Fr Flannery’s actions, the Irish Redemptorist Community
said it was “deeply saddened by the breakdown in communication”, adding
that the 66-year-old priest was “highly regarded and respected by many
They added that it was of “immense regret” that structures had not
been yet found to provide a “greater capacity to engage with challenging
voices from among God’s people”.