Galway priest ‘silenced’
A group representing over 800 Irish priests has spoken out in support of Galway native Fr Tony Flannery, after he was ‘silenced’ by the Vatican as a result of his liberal views.
Fr Flannery, who is based in the Redemptorist Church Esker, had his regular column in religious magazine ‘Reality’ withdrawn recently after intervention from the Vatican.
It is understood that the move was taken as a result of Fr Flannery’s previous discussions on the ending of celibacy, opening up the Church to lay people and women and other frustrations he had experienced within the Catholic Church. Further action was also taken against a second priest, Fr Gerard Moloney, banning him from writing on various topics.
However, the Vatican’s move has been widely slammed by members of the clergy in Ireland, with the 800-strong Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) releasing a statement on Monday expressing fears that Fr Flannery was being “silenced” and branding the intervention “unfair, unwarranted and unwise”.
“The issues surfaced by the ACP since its foundation less than two years ago and by Tony Flannery as part of the leadership team are not an attack on or a rejection of the fundamental teachings of the Church. We are and we wish to remain at the very heart of the Church, committed to putting into place the reforms of the Second Vatican Council,” read the statement from the ACP.
“Accordingly we wish to register our extreme unease and disquiet at the present development, not least the secrecy surrounding such interventions and the questions about due process and freedom of conscience that such interventions surface.”
The ACP continued to say that ‘heresy hunting’ was of no service to the Irish Catholic Church and may have the unintended effect of exacerbating a growing perception of a significant ‘disconnect’ between the Irish Church and Rome.
When contacted by the Galway Independent yesterday, Fr Flannery was not available for comment on the row.
Meanwhile, RTÉ has expressed its “disappointment” that a report by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BAI) into the national broadcaster’s defamation of Ahascragh priest Fr Kevin Reynolds was leaked to the press this week.
RTÉ is currently involved in an investigation process with the BAI into its Prime Time Investigates programme ‘A Mission to Prey’, which wrongly accused Fr Reynolds of fathering the child of a minor while working as a missionary in Africa.
The broadcaster was provided with a copy of the BAI’s report last Thursday, which is heavily critical of the standards observed in the making of the programme, and now has 14 days to make submissions to the watchdog or to request an oral hearing or High Court case.
However, the findings of the report were leaked to media earlier this week and RTÉ has now said that the current circumstances prejudice its response to the investigation’s conclusions.
“It would be entirely inappropriate for RTÉ to comment on the BAI’s report at this stage while the document is still in the early stages of being evaluated,” a statement read.
“If fair regulatory procedures are to apply, RTÉ and the production team must be allowed to make submissions to the BAI in response to the report, within the process. The leaking of the report has undermined that process. RTÉ will continue to observe the process, as it is required to do.”
Fr Reynolds previously reached a defamation settlement with the broadcaster over the ‘A Mission to Prey’ documentary and appealed this week for no RTÉ staff to lose their jobs over the error.