Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery, who rejected the Vatican’s attempts to silence him earlier this year for leading church reform efforts in Ireland, is making headlines again. The priest released a new book in September dealing with his struggles with the Vatiican. Part of those struggles involved his support of LGBT equality in the Church.
At the same time that he has published this account, he is stepping away from leadership in Association of Catholic Priests, which he co-founded.
The book, titled A Question of Conscience, was reviewed by Professor Dermot Keogh in The Independent who provides insights into both the work and the author. Fr. Flannery was “one of the best known and most valued spiritual leaders…among ordinary Catholics” in Ireland after nearly four decades of ministry, Keogh says, before noting the book does not cover this good service.
Instead, Keogh offers a summary of the priest’s troubles with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and his superiors in the Redemptorists, all leading up to Fr. Flannery’s refusal to silence himself. Keogh concludes by writing:
“The election of Pope Francis this year may help find another way to deal with dissent in the Catholic Church which does not involve the abrogation of the rights of the individual and the use of a system of personnel management that is as archaic as it is unchristian.
“It will be interesting to see if the new regime in the Vatican will allow Fr Flannery to explain his views and to clarify matters face to face.
“While this volume is a very personal account, and other voices need to be heard and recorded, I am glad as an historian that this book has been published.
“I wish the author – and other ‘silenced’ Irish priests – the strength and courage to see things through to a just end.”
The Tablet reports that Fr. Flannery, already suspended from ministry, is also leaving the Association of Catholic Priests’ leadership to reflect on his future in the clergy, which will be decided in the next six months by the priest’s own admission. Meanwhile, other priests in Ireland have begun speaking out in defense of Fr. Flannery.
Fr. Iggy Donovan, an Augustinian priest in Ireland who is now on leave, spoke in his final homily about Fr. Tony Flannery. Irish Central quote the priest as saying:
“ ‘I cannot leave here today without making some reference to a distinguished colleague of mine in the priesthood. I speak of Fr Tony Flannery. If I had not been made aware first hand of the details of this case I could not have given it credence.’
“ ‘Even hardened veterans are shaken by the murkiness of the devious world of ecclesiastical politics. How has it come to this, that a great and good priest like Tony, who has dedicated his life to the preaching of the Gospel, is persecuted with a zeal that is as pathological as the paranoia that feeds it?
” ‘How has it come to this, that intolerant and extreme right wingers, encouraged apparently by certain authorities and career-orientated priests, can meet in solemn conclave to determine who is guilty of what these people label heresy.’…
” ‘How has it come to this that sincere thinking Catholics are walking away from our Church believing that the battle for sane Catholicism is lost.’ “
You can purchase “A Question of Conscience” through Amazon by clicking here. For further information about Fr. Flannery’s initial troubles and support for LGBT Catholics, see the following posts:
January 23, 2013: Irish Priest Receives Support from Near and Far in His Vatican Struggle
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry