AN IRISH Redemptorist priest who has been “silenced” by the Roman Catholic Church for his outspoken views in favour of married clergy, and opinions expressed on homosexuality, will not now speak at a community “Spiritfest”, after an intervention by the Bishop of Cloyne, the Rt Revd William Crean.
The priest, Fr Tony Flannery, was suspended by the Vatican in 2012 (News, 13 April 2012). He is one of the founders of the Association of Catholic Priests, a group of liberal RC clergy, and continues to minister at a personal level, and has given many talks in Ireland and abroad since the ban.
He described the intervention by Bishop Crean over the event next month at Killeagh, in Cloyne diocese, east Cork, as “surprising and depressing”.
“To find an Irish bishop extending the notion of ‘silencing’ to a talk in a community hall is very disappointing,” he said.
The invitation was issued by the local parish pastoral council. Last week, Bishop Crean made representations to the parish priest of Killeagh, Fr Timothy Hazelwood, and to Fr Flannery’s superiors in the Redemptorist congregation.
“It seems to me”, Fr Flannery said, “that what he possibly wanted was that the Provincial would order me not to go to Killeagh. The Provincial of the Redemptorists did not give me any direction in respect of the talk in Killeagh.”
In a statement, Bishop Crean said that the invitation to Fr Flannery had been made “in good faith”, but that it was not possible for him to carry out the request because he was currently “out of ministry”.
“I have been obliged to inform the members that, having spoken with Fr Flannery’s superior, the Provincial of the Redemptorist Order in Ireland, I am unable to approve the extension of this invitation at this time.
"The reason being is that Fr Flannery is currently out of ministry, and the policy of the diocese of Cloyne is that a priest who is out of ministry, for whatever reason, cannot exercise a public ministry.
“I wish for the diocese to be consistent. . . Having now discussed the matter with the parish pastoral council, the members have agreed to extend an invitation to another speaker to launch Spiritfest 2015.”