Tuesday 22 January 2013

Tony Flannery defenders

If you fancy a bit of a laugh head over to the Irish Times letters page where you will find a sad collection of the usual suspects writing in support of Fr Tony Flannery.  It's unusual to find them all on the same day.  Ach, I'll save you the bother.  Best one is Pat Buckley, which takes prizes for self-importance and self-delusion.

A chara, – No priest has been excommunicated for the rape of children, nor has any bishop or cardinal for covering up those crimes.  Fr Tony Flannery, however, is being threatened with excommunication for speaking on the possibility of women priests (Front page and Opinion, January 21st). This is not the Good News of Jesus Christ, but more bad news from an institution drunk on power and bereft of genuine spiritual authority. The church,the people of God, deserves better.Time to listen to the Spirit and stand up and together for a long overdue change. Our liberation is at hand! – Is mise,

SOLINE HUMBERT (Priestess of some sort I recall)

Sir, – Fr Tony Flannery informs us that he has been threatened with excommunication from the church, an institution to which he has dedicated the greater part of his life. Apparently the Roman authorities wish him to conform with their views on such matters as the role of women, homosexuality, and that old chestnut contraception. To my knowledge he is the first Irish cleric to be so threatened in many decades. I take it then that our ecclesiastical authorities regard Fr Flannery’s views on sexual morality as a more grave crime than that committed by any other cleric over the years. – Yours, etc,

Fr IGGY O’DONOVAN (Please let him be next)

Sir, – Twenty-six years ago they came for me and no one did anything. Today they have come for Fr Tony Flannery. Tomorrow they will come for you. – Yours, etc,

Bishop PAT BUCKLEY (If by "came for me" means letting me stay in parish property rent free for 26 years.  One can imagine the horrors as the Nazis smashed in the doors of the cowering Jews and announced "it's all right lads, you can stay where you are as long as you like."

Sir, – The organisation We are Church Ireland expresses its unconditional support for Fr Tony Flannery in his assertion of his right of conscience not to be forced by an abuse of his vow of obedience to submit to the secretive demands of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Front page and Opinion, January 21st).  We welcome the statement of support of his Irish Redemptorist Order and the Association of Catholic priests of Ireland and Austria.  It is now up to the rest of the people of God,both non-ordained and ordained, to express their support for Tony Flannery and to that end We are Church Ireland is organising a peaceful vigil outside the Papal Nunciature, Navan Road, Dublin on January 27th at 3pm and encourages all concerned for the future of the Irish church to attend. – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN BUTLER (Think his organisation shoud be called "I am Church".  Anyway, I am calling on all Catholics who do not support Tony Flannery to stay away from the Nunciature on Sunday afternoon - we'll see who has the greater number.)

Rationabile Obsequium makes the excellent point that Tony Flannery and the media have been spinning and distorting the case to make the central issues ordination of women, homosexuality and contraception, all of which are liberal/media friendly issues.  While these are indeed important issues, the matter which the CDF has focussed on is Tony's rejection of priesthood as understood by the Church.  The New York Times covers it:

In the letter, the Vatican objected in particular to an article published in 2010 in Reality, an Irish religious magazine. In the article, Father Flannery, a Redemptorist priest, wrote that he no longer believed that “the priesthood as we currently have it in the church originated with Jesus” or that he designated “a special group of his followers as priests.”

Instead, he wrote, “It is more likely that some time after Jesus, a select and privileged group within the community who had abrogated power and authority to themselves, interpreted the occasion of the Last Supper in a manner that suited their own agenda.”

Father Flannery said the Vatican wanted him specifically to recant the statement, and affirm that Christ instituted the church with a permanent hierarchical structure and that bishops are divinely established successors to the apostles.

This appears in the New York Times article, and indeed appeared in the Irish Times article.  But then the Irish Times decided that was the wrong angle to take so they changed it.

Fr Ray Blake makes the good point that the whole case represents the failure by the Irish bishops and the Redemptorist Order to deal with their own business and that the Holy See shouldn't have to deal with small fry like this.

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