25 January 2017, The Tablet

Reclaim the laity before it’s too late


With the hindsight of 500 years, it is not hard to see that Martin Luther could have been handled much better. He was obviously an awkward character, but he did not start out with the intention of splitting the Church. The lesson is that even awkward characters can make a rich contribution if they are allowed to. If receiving their gift requires not walking the extra mile with them but 10 more, then so be it.

For Martin Luther in Germany in 1517, read Tony Flannery in Ireland in 2017. No doubt, Fr Flannery tries the patience of those in authority. Like Luther, he will not do what he is told. And like Luther, he signals a state of crisis in the Church that urgently needs addressing but which has hardly yet been recognised.

Fr Flannery, a Redemptorist, was ordered to cease his public ministry in 2012 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, until such time as he recanted his views on women’s ordination, married priests, contraception, and the doctrine of the Eucharist.

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