New Vatican ordeal for rebel priest Fr Flannery
Published 10/10/2012 | 05:00
A HIGH-PROFILE priest is coming under increasing scrutiny from the Vatican's theological watchdog for expressing liberal views.
Silenced Redemptorist and Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) founder Fr Tony Flannery has been contacted by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Irish Independent can reveal.
It emerged earlier this year that Fr Flannery was silenced by the Vatican and put under investigation for his "liberal" views on women's ordination.
This came to light only weeks after the report of the Apostolic Visitation from Rome which noted that Ireland had widespread dissent among priests, religious and lay people from the church's teaching.
Several other clerics were either silenced or received warnings from the Vatican, including Fr Brian D'Arcy.
Now Fr Flannery has received further correspondence and documents to sign from the CDF under its new head, German Bishop Gerhard Muller, who has a reputation for taking on what the Vatican see as Catholic 'dissidents'.
Fr Flannery is having difficulty signing up to some of the demands in the latest documents seeking his retraction on certain liberal views.
Some of these views include campaigning for women's ordination and married priests; a complete re-think on contraception; and a change in what is seen as harsh and insensitive language in the church's teaching on homosexuality.
Sources said the language of the letters contains the terminology of Vatican I, held in the late-1860s. One cleric said: "The church says it has good news for the 21st Century but is proceeding to operate a 16th Century mindset."
It is widely speculated in church circles that Fr Flannery has been singled out for his public support of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's post-Cloyne Report speech in which he castigated the Vatican for its "elitism, dysfunction, disconnection and narcissism".
The ACP, which represents 800 of Ireland's 4,000 priests, said last April it was "disturbed" that its founder was under Vatican investigation.