At this site Renew America the Australian author Eamonn Keane has done us a great service by summarizing many points concerning the Irish heretic Fr. Tony Flannery, who has been under scrutiny by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
This is important, because, so far, the press has allowed Flannery to control the story. When you dig deeper, as Keane did, you see how duplicitous Flannery has been. Keane read stuff by Flannery that Flannery hasn’t been sharing with the newsies.
Keane’s piece is long. The first part is a summary of what has happened. And then he pulls out some quotes from Flannery’s work. Let’s skip over the dopey women priest stuff. Cliché Here are some examples.
“I now have difficulty with an assumption that I made automatically for a great part of my life, that in terms of teaching, Christ and the church are one and the same. I no longer accept as automatically true that the church we have now is necessarily according to the plan of God” (Keeping the Faith, p. 25).
“The weight of evidence suggests that Jesus didn’t have anything as specific as a church in mind. He gave his followers a mission to go and preach the Kingdom of God, but he didn’t set up or outline any kind of structure” (Keeping the Faith, pp. 35-36).
In regard to homosexuality, Fr. Flannery says: “I honestly do not think it is either fair or realistic to expect all people of a homosexual orientation to remain celibate all their lives, and to refrain from any form of physical sexual expression. When this is made a condition for their belonging to the church, it is no wonder that so many walk sadly away. In the present regime, the church has taken an increasingly hard line on this” (Fragments, p.58).
Chastising the Catholic Church for its refusal to bless attempted second marriages by persons divorced from a living lawful spouse with whom their first marriage was valid, Fr. Flannery said: “The logic of this is that any form of blessing given to such a couple will be confused with the sacrament, and will serve to debase and devalue the church teaching on the sacredness of marriage. From a legal point of view this has certain logic, but I’m afraid that pastorally it is cruel and unnecessary” (Fragments, p.33).
Fr. Flannery entitled his own essay in RRP as Some Ideas on a New Approach to Catholic Sexual Teaching. He outlined what he believes are necessary “basic changes” the Church needs to make by saying: “So the first basis of a new theology of sexuality would be a positive acceptance of the beauty and goodness not just of our sexual nature but of sexual activity in relationships…It would take the church a long time to come around to really believing that sex is good and beautiful, part of the wonder of God’s creation…” (RRP, p. 165).
He continued by saying, “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” (RRP, p. 165). He added: “Breaking away from the rigid connection between sexual activity and marriage would also give us a way out of the bind we find ourselves in with couples who are involved in second relationships. The failure of the church to respond to the many people who are getting married for the second time is scandalous” (RRP, p. 167). Later in the book, he repeats his call for the Church to “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” (RRP, p. 169).
The third change that Fr. Flannery calls upon the Church to adopt is that “we no longer teach that the use of artificial contraception in a loving relationship is sinful” (RRP, p. 169).
The CDF does not go after people by chance.
So far the story in the press is about what Flannery wrote that got him into trouble with CDF. The story, so far, has been pretty much been determined by Flannery himself. He has controlled the story. But Eamonn Keane read some of the Flannery’s writings which Flannery didn’t give to the press! These writings reveal doctrinal errors far more serious than even the ones Flannery has mentioned.
The Catholic press needs to get on top of this and get to the real issues. Eamonn Keane did.