Hundreds of people have attended the first mass in five years to be celebrated by a priest banned from public ministry.
Fr Tony Flannery, a Redemptorist priest, was banned from public
ministry by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
(CDF) in 2012.
This afternoon, he said mass at a community centre in Co Galway.
event was described as a celebration to mark the priest's recent 70th
Fr Flannery was suspended from public
ministry after he refused to row back on a number of public statements
he had made about the priesthood, the role of women in the church,
contraception and sexuality.
He has taken issue with the manner in which
the decision was communicated to him and with the lack of direct contact
he had with the CDF.
In his homily, Fr Flannery said he believed the mass was not just the
work of a priest but instead a celebration of the entire community.
Referring to the breakdown of, what he called the "centralised power"
of the Catholic Church, he urged those present to take ownership of
He said he had been overwhelmed at the level of support he had
received since he announced he would celebrate a public mass and he
expressed his thanks to the local community.
Signs were erected on approach roads to the
centre before today's service.
In addition, a marquee was erected beside
the building to cater for the hundreds of people who turned up.
The proceedings were relayed on a big screen to the congregation outside the community centre.
Flannery's homily met with a standing ovation and many of those in
attendance expressed hope that the Vatican would engage in a more
meaningful manner with the faithful.
Flannery said he was not concerned at the prospect of further censure
from the church authorities. He said he felt it was extremely unlikely
that the ban on him ministering publicly would be lifted.
Fr Flannery described the threat of excommunication as a medieval construct and not something that perturbed him.