Ireland’s bishops are likely to ignore plans by ‘silenced’ priest Fr Tony Flannery to celebrate a public Mass on January 22.
Redemptorist Fr Flannery, who has been out of ministry since 2012,
has announced on his website that he intends to disregard the ban and
celebrate his 70th birthday, which will be on January 18, with a Mass in
Killimordaly Community Centre in Kiltullagh, Co. Galway.
Fr Flannery was suspended from ministry after the publication of
articles in Reality magazine, which questioned the origins of the
priesthood and suggested that Christians other than priests can
celebrate the Eucharist.
Asked to clarify his position by the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith in Rome, he baulked at requests that he clarify that he
accepts Church teaching on the Eucharist, replying only that he has no
difficulty in believing “that Jesus is really and truly present when we
celebrate the Eucharist”.
Under canon law, bishops are “guardians of all liturgical life”,
responsible for regulating and safeguarding liturgy in their dioceses,
where priests are only permitted to celebrate Mass if in good standing
with the Church.
The centre is in Clonfert diocese, under the jurisdiction of Bishop
John Kirby, who will be in Rome during the Irish hierarchy’s ad limina
visit when the Mass takes place.
On being directed to the Catholic
Communication Office by Dr Kirby’s office, however, The Irish Catholic
was told “the Redemptorist Congregation is the ecclesiastical authority
for Father Flannery”.