- Trying to square the circle
The opening days of the Synod on the Family have revealed distinct differences of opinion between the participants. How can their commitment to church teaching be matched with compassion for those who struggle with it?
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Frustration over the plight of censured priest Fr Tony Flannery appears to be mounting within his Redemptorist order.
Last week, at a public meeting in Dublin on church reform addressed by Fr Flannery, Fr Sean Duggan, the youngest Redemptorist in the Irish province, called on the Redemptorist authorities to restore Fr Flannery to full priestly ministry without any conditions. He also demanded that they issue an apology to him for the way in which he has been treated by the Vatican authorities.
Fr Flannery was censured by the Vatican in 2012 and forbidden to minister as a priest over what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) considered heretical views on the Eucharist and priesthood. “I no longer believe that the priesthood as we currently have it in the Church originated with Jesus,” he wrote in 2010. Fr Duggan, 34, told The Tablet that he had spoken out because of “a deep care for our Church”.
The CDF have stipulated that in order to be reinstated, Fr Flannery must issue a statement saying that he accepts all the moral teachings of the Church and that women can never be ordained priests.
For his part, Fr Flannery said that even if the Vatican did allow him back into ministry he wouldn’t accept unless all sanctions were lifted against Fr Sean Fagan, a Marist priest, who was silenced after questioning elements of church teaching. Frs Flannery and Fagan are one of six Irish priests to have been censured in recent years.
Fr Gerry O’Connor, a member of the Redemptorist provincial council in Ireland which oversees the congregation’s 100 members in Ireland said that he regretted Fr Flannery’s “exclusion from ministry” and hoped he could return.
A number of Redemptorists had written to the order’s superior general, Fr Michael Brehl, to express their support for Fr Flannery.