Fr Tony Flannery, the Redemptorist priest and leader of the Association of Catholic Priests, has this week expressed his determination to defy the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s recommendation that he step down from leadership of the ACP and undertake a sabbatical to reflect on his dissent from the Church’s doctrine, including refraining from writing for publication. According to The Tablet Fr Flannery justified that his defiance by claiming to follow his conscience.
However, not only does Fr Flannery reject the Church’s doctrines concerning Catholic priesthood and reject the authority of Humanae Vitae he also promotes through his writings fornication and adultery. In 2009 Fr Flannery wrote:
“The second basic change would be to break the inherent connection, long part of traditional Catholic teaching, between sexual activity and marriage. To continue to hold that sex outside marriage is always sinful is in my view a mistake……. we break the rigid connection between sexual activity and marriage, allowing for appropriate sexual relationships between people who are not married when the quality of the relationship merits it. ”
“…it is unrealistic to expect that every couple will continue to love and cherish each other until death…I am advocating that the church’s attitude to people in second relationships must change. Such persons deserve to have their union sacramentalised in the church, if they so wish, and must never be excluded from the Eucharist.”
Flannery, T (2009) in Some Ideas on a New Approach to Catholic Sexual Teaching” in Responding to the Ryan Report, The Columba Press, Dublin, 2009.
Fr Flannery maintains the contradictory position of both expressing his rejection of the Church’s teaching on the priesthood, while at the same time assuming leadership of the Association of Catholic Priests, presuming to speak on behalf of the Catholic priests of Ireland:
“I no longer believe that the priesthood, as we currently have it in the Church, originated with Jesus…He did not designate a special group of his followers as priests. To say that at the Last Supper Jesus instituted the priesthood as we have it is stretching the reality of what happened. It is more likely that some time after Jesus, a select and privileged group within the community who had abrogated power and authority to themselves, interpreted the occasion of the Last Supper in a manner that suited their own agenda.”
“I can no longer accept that interpreting the Word of God and celebrating the sacraments belong exclusively to the priesthood.”
Having quoted from Pope Benedict’s 2010 letter to Priests: “Clearly, according to this quote, it is the priest alone who possesses the power to celebrate the Eucharist. There was probably a time when I believed that. But now I believe that the Word of God and the sacraments belong to, and are already within, the whole community, the Church, rather than the priest alone.”Flannery, T ( July/August 2010) Reality.
Protect the Pope comment: Fr Flannery is being misleadingly presented by the liberal media, including The Tablet, as a priest defending the rights of conscience over the oppressive authority of the Church. The truth of the matter is that most moral people will find Fr Flannery’s promotion of breaking the link between marriage and sexual activity repugnant, especially coming from a priest who presides at the celebration of the sacrament of marriage. Fr Flannery is yet another example of a priest who breaks the link between compassion and truth, and thereby promotes moral chaos that causes so much harm and heartache to countless broken families.
The fact that he rejects the Catholic doctrine of priesthood but presumes to lead an association of Catholic priests shows his personal confusion, rather than his defence of conscience.