Friday, February 01, 2013

Vatican’s demands ‘too high a price’ 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 views. 

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 relationships.

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 in Ireland”.

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”.

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