THE church in Dublin has lost one of its top clerical administrators, who has resigned in protest at the Vatican's "extremely distressing and depressing" treatment of another priest.
Popular priest Fr John Hassett, who is moderator of the parishes of Lucan and Esker and Adamstown, was dean of the archdiocese of Dublin's Maynooth deanery.
He had been re-elected to the position on two previous occasions, but has quit due to "the disrespectful and unjust treatment of Fr Tony Flannery" by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog.
He said Catholics were now living in a church "where courage is silenced by fear".
Redemptorist priest Fr Flannery was silenced by the Vatican in April 2012 following complaints over the contents of four of his articles for the religious magazine 'Reality'.
In January, Fr Flannery announced that he was refusing to comply with the Vatican's demands that he retract his support for women priests and publish a statement stating his assent to the church's teachings.
Fr Flannery said he now faced ex-communication.
Fr Hassett has resigned his post in protest – and told the Irish Independent that it was "a sad reflection" on the institutional church that a man of such "integrity, kindness and stature is treated in such a manner".
"If the truth were told, some of (Fr Flannery's) views are shared by many priests of the archdiocese of Dublin," Fr Hassett added.
He also explained that he had in fact resigned three weeks ago, but held off making a public announcement until now in order that the members of the deanery could take time to consider his decision and to hold "three days of prayer and scriptural reflection".