Censured Redemptorist priest, Fr Tony Flannery, has called on the Irish bishops to open a dialogue with the Association of Catholic Priests.
Writing in a blog on the ACP website, the priest who has
been out of ministry for two years following a clampdown on dissident
clergy in Ireland by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
said the ACP has consistently sought a real discussion with the bishops
since it was founded three years ago “but without success”.
to the “new reality” under Pope Francis, the Redemptorist said “Pope
Francis wishes real discussion and listening to go on at all levels in
the Church. So it is now time for our bishops to sit down with us, the
ACP, and for all of us to begin to talk openly and fearlessly with each
He continued, “The days of fear, of secrecy, of oppression
are happily in the past. Beginning with a dialogue between bishops and
priests, it can be broadened to include all the faithful, and with no
topic of concern being excluded from the discussion.”
He concluded his blog by describing it as a “time of grace, a time of opportunity in our Church.”
is undoubtedly the work of the Spirit. If we fail to respond I believe
we will be guilty of a great sin. So let the talk begin. There is no
time to lose.”
Elsewhere in his blog, Fr Flannery referred to the recent ad limina visit by the Austrian bishops to Rome.
brought with them the results of the Vatican survey, which they had
taken very seriously and about which they had consulted widely. Among
other findings was that 95% of Austrian Catholics believe that people
who are divorced and remarried should be admitted to the sacraments.”
seem to have had no fear bringing such findings to Rome, and neither
was Francis shocked by them. Schönborn says that he responded by saying:
‘Don’t judge, but look closely and listen very carefully’.”
to Fr Flannery, Cardinal Schönborn said in an interview after the
meeting that he regretted that the Austrian bishops haven’t dared to
speak out openly on necessary church reforms in the past.
“We were far too hesitant. I beat my own breast here. We certainly lacked the courage to speak out openly.”
Austrian bishops also discussed with the Pope the Austrian Priests’
Initiative, which has called for the ordination of married men and
women, and their ‘Call to Disobedience,’ Schönborn said.
advised them that the most important thing for bishops is always to be
in close contact with their priests, the Cardinal said.
message is obvious”, Fr Flannery claimed, “Francis was telling the
Austrian bishops to speak to their priests, to discuss the issues and
concerns with them.