Fr Tony Flannery CSsR was suspended from public ministry by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2012, with that dicastery citing the incompatibility with Catholicism of his view that the priesthood was not instituted by Christ.Theologian raises concerns over calls to reinstate Fr Flannery – The Irish Catholic
Fr Tony Flannery
Following calls from the Irish Redemptorists for the Vatican to reinstate a priest removed from ministry, a theologian has raised concerns that he is still “at loggerheads with several important Church teachings”.
Fr Tony Flannery CSsR was suspended from public ministry by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2012, with that dicastery citing the incompatibility with Catholicism of his view that the priesthood was not instituted by Christ.
Dublin City University Theologian Dr John Murray told The Irish Catholic that if someone believes the priesthood is man-made “a lot of things flow from that”.
“There’s a huge amount of implications, for the sacraments for the Church’s teaching, authority, the whole basis for a Catholic understanding of Christianity,” he said.
“The basic understanding of priesthood, the link with Christ and his sacrifice on the cross, these are very deep, significant aspects of the Faith, you mess with them at your peril. If you want to get down to the basics of these things look at Vatican II.”
He added: “The way Vatican II presents the belief and divine revelation concerning the Church, priesthood is very important. Especially today when we have a crisis looming about priesthood, the age of priests and very few men going forward for the priesthood. It’s not a good time to be raising doubts about the priesthood.”
Speaking to The Irish Catholic Fr Flannery said it was “heartening” that his order in Ireland were supporting his return to public ministry.
Asked if he would like to return, he said, “I would, but now I’m 75 years of age, I think it would be important and it would be a great signal…I would be glad.”
Fr Flannery said he still holds to his beliefs over which the CDF raised concerns, saying that the very first issue was regarding whether Christ intended to found the priesthood.
“The other issues were mainly around Catholic sexual teaching, things like contraception, homosexuality, and also of course the case of women in the Church, they were the main ones,” he said.
Fr Flannery claimed that what he described as the “dogs in the street” are now saying similar things to him now, and his views are mainstream and “to some degree traditional”.
A document sent to his order’s superior general in 2020 stated if Fr Flannery was to return to public ministry, he must first submit a signed statement regarding his positions on homosexuality, admission of women to the priesthood, gender theory and civil unions between same-sex couples.