Fr. Tony Flannery Raises Questions About LGBT Inclusion at the World Meeting of Families

Fr. Tony Flannery

Fr. Tony Flannery, CSsR,a Redemptorist priest from Ireland, joined the growing group of voices asking the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland to include LGBT families.

Writing in The Irish Times, Flannery reported on recent gathering of the  International Church Reform Network, which occurred in mid-June. (Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, represented New Ways Ministry there: Ruby Almeida represented the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.)The group planned to take up a number of issues, including LGBT equality. Flannery explained:

“The LGBT movement will have a strong voice there [at the Church Reform Network meeting], led by the remarkable Sr Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministry. They are coming with a statement, for which they will seek enforcement from the conference. It concerns the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August.

“One quote from that statement sums up their thinking: ‘What arrangements are being made to guarantee that at least one of the five families who will give witness at WMF will be an LGBT family?’

“‘Will the programme include any parents who have LGBT children? Will a same-gender couple testify about the joys and difficulties of raising children? Will participants hear from a transgender person about their experience of family? Will even one such event happen?'”

The World Meeting of Families will take place this August in Dublin. In recent months, a number of Catholics and Irish leaders have raised similar questions about whether the Meeting will be LGBT-inclusive or continue the exclusionary direction of the last World Meeting of Families held in Philadelphia in 2015.

Flannery added his own commentary about equality in The Irish Times essay, saying “the most radical aspect of the teaching of Jesus was the way he treated all people as equal.” The priest continued:

“This notion of oneness, of radical equality, was central to the teaching of Jesus and the life of the early church. Unfortunately, after a couple of centuries, and as the church grew in numbers and influence, it began to model its leadership structures on those of the Roman Empire.

Those in authority became distinguished by their power and control, rather than their service of the community. It was out of this very unfortunate development that what is now known as “clericalism” developed, the attitude of superiority which Pope Francis recognises as one of the major cancers of the church.

“The network believes that the future of the church depends on returning to the radical equality of Jesus and the early church.”

In 2012, the Vatican attempted to silence Flannery, in part for his affirming views on LGBT issues. But rather than being “terrified into submission,” in his words, he began speaking out. Flannery published a book, A Question of Conscience, and spoke about the draconian process of his investigation and attempted silencing.  Flannery has been an outspoken church reform advocate since then.

This November, Fr. Flannery will lead a retreat for New Ways Ministry titled “New Language for Old Truths.” LGBT Catholics, families, pastoral ministers, and allies are all welcome for the weekend, which explores new ways, new language, and new images to make sense of the Gospel message in the modern world. The retreat aims to provide a sound theological and spiritual base for people involved in LGBT Catholic issues, even when the road ahead is stormy. For more information on the retreat and to register, click here.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 16, 2018

3 replies
  1. Dr. Aaron Milavec
    Dr. Aaron Milavec says:

    I am angry and distressed by the attempts of our bishops to purge our Catholic schools of those teachers who support same-sex civil marriages. So the first step in my action plan is to take the CASE OF MIKE MOROSKI and bring it to the attention of Pope Francis with 100,000 signatures. . . .

    Please consider posting this link in an appropriate place on your most excellent sites:

    Peace, justice, and joy,
    Dr. Aaron Milavec

  2. Dr. Aaron Milavec
    Dr. Aaron Milavec says:

    Fr. Tony is on the right path here. We met in Cincinnati when he spoke there after the publishing of his first book, and I have been keeping abreast of his advocacy for LGBT children since then.

    I have observed the misery of my people . . . ;
    I have heard their cry. . . .
    Indeed, I know their sufferings,
    and I have come down to deliver them (Exod 3:7f).

    For fifty years, the vast majority of Roman Catholic priests, religious Sisters, and theologians have been forced into a reluctant silence when it comes to birth control, celibacy of priests, ordination of women, and homosexuality. I myself, while teaching in Roman Catholic seminaries for twenty-five years, was required to keep a guarded silence on all these issues. But this reluctant obedience has not served me nor has it served those whom I helped prepare for lay and ordained ministry.

    Pope Francis, for his part, has forthrightly warned our bishops against “the temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word . . . , within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve.” When this happens, “the bread” that Jesus blesses and gives to his disciples is transformed “into a stone” that is either “cast against the sinners” or it is carried by them as an “unbearable burden” (Luke 11:46).

    By way of atoning for my years of silence, I have prepared WHAT JESUS WOULD SAY TO SAME-SEX COUPLES in order to equip my former students and all those faithful Catholics who are interested in sorting out the wheat from the chaff within current Catholic teaching and practice. What you discover herein will supply you with clear, strong, and compelling case studies that can be used to open up informed and reliable explorations on topics that have largely been obscured by authoritative pronouncements, by shoddy biblical scholarship, and by ignorance of Catholic history. Whether you want to speak to your teenage daughter or to your bishop, these case studies will offer talking points that will enable you to make sense out of the faith that is intended to nourish us, to make us free, and to draw us into harmony with the mind of Christ.

    For those who are confused by claims and counter-claims, this book will offer powerful tools for reconsidering the issues and for engaging church leaders to do the same. If you are unable to attend the retreat planned by Fr. Tony, I would invite you to take a free copy of my book [available at ] and to read it in solidarity with those who are making the retreat.

    Peace, justice, and joy,
    Dr. Aaron Milavec

  3. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    It is interesting that when the Church tried to silence Father Flannery and Sr. Gramick, the Holy Spirit gave them golden tongues and bigger voices with which to inspire the world to see how big love is.


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