Dissident Irish priest about to get hammered into the ground by the CDF.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s process is slow and patient and respectful, to a fault, when certain people and their odd theological notions come under study.  It takes a lot to get scrutinized by the CDF in the first place, but once you are in their system, they go over and over what you write and give you chances to explain and correct.  If it gets to a point where someone refuses to be corrected, unpleasant things result.

From CWN:

A prominent Irish priest has announced that he will reject a directive from the Vatican and refuse to sign a statement affirming Church teachings on the nature of priestly ordination.

Father Tony Flannery had been silenced by the Vatican last year because of his statements supporting the ordination of women and questioning Church teachings on contraception and on homosexuality. At a January 20 press conference in Dublin he said that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had ordered him to sign a statement of support for Church teaching, and threatened further disciplinary action if he refused.

“Either I sign a statement, for publication, stating that I accepted teachings that I could not accept, or I would remain permanently banned from priestly ministry, and maybe face more serious sanctions,” Father Flannery said. He claimed that his disagreements with the Vatican involved “not matters of fundamental teaching, but rather of Church governance.” Actually his published writings have questioned fundamental Catholic doctrines; he has not only opposed the ban on ordination of women but also said that he does not believe that “the priesthood as we currently have it in the Church originated with Jesus.”


The Association of Catholic Priests, a dissident group that Father Flannery had helped to found, issued a strong statement of support for the embattled priest, denouncing the Vatican for “a callousness and even brutality” in its handling of his case.


BOO HOO!  sniffle…

Read the rest of the article about this whinging heretic over there.  Hell’s Bible has something on him HERE.

Every once in a while I foster the desire that guys like this not sign, not conform… and good riddance!  Yes, it would be better were he to convert to Catholicism, especially given that he is ordained. But if is isn’t going to, and if he is going to persist in error after being corrected by Congregation…. hasta la vista.  And take the Ass. of Catholic Priests with you.


UPDATE 22 Jan 14:47 GMT:

From a priest in Ireland:

I’m not very tech savvy so i don’t know how to post a comment on your blog.
I just wanted to add that Fr. Flannery called his press conference the day after the massive prolife rally in Dublin which we Catholics wanted to be big news. 30,000 people turned up, but by Sunday Fr. Flannery’s difficulties became the hot topic for an Irish Media that was only too delighted to get the chance to move on from a positive prolife story. Even if I agreed with Fr. Flannery’s position (I certainly do not) I think it was lousy of him to call a press conference on the weekend when the Church was getting people in this country to focus their attention on keeping abortion out of Ireland.
From a prolife point of view he couldn’t have picked a worse weekend to vent his anger at the Vatican.

And you can bet he did it on purpose, to cause a problem.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geoffrey says:

    It seems like the Holy See is really beginning to crack down on the whole “female ordination” heretical nonsense. Deo gratias!

  2. Athelstan says:

    “Here he stands. He can do no other.”

  3. Supertradmum says:

    Horrible group he belongs to, but they are the tip of the iceberg in Ireland. Great scandal has come from him. The group is also pro same -sex “marriage”.

  4. Genna says:

    “How can I put my name to such a document when it goes against everything I believe in”.
    No-one’s forcing you, dear Father. Off you go.

  5. Clinton R. says:

    “Either I sign a statement, for publication, stating that I accepted teachings that I could not accept, or I would remain permanently banned from priestly ministry, and maybe face more serious sanctions,”

    So I would ask Fr. Flannery why exactly did he become a priest? I would think he would have known what the Catholic Church teaches.

  6. Dr Guinness says:

    What an awful, awful situation that a consecrated man of God, especially, should fall so far from, and hate so much, the Mystical Body of Christ, in his errors.

  7. Anne 2 says:

    This is what happens when Priests and Laity do not read/study the “CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition” as instructed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict – which all Catholics are required to adhere to.
    CCC: ” 1577 Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.
    The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return.
    The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself.
    For this reason the ordination of women is not possible. ”
    Mk 3:14-19; Lk 6:12-16; 1 Tim 3:1-13; 2 Tim 1:6; Titus 1:5-9.

    “ The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I approved … and the publication of which I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion. “ – Pope John Paul II. (CCC pg 5)

    “Through the harmonious and complementary efforts of all the ranks of the People of God, may this Catechism be known and shared by everyone, so that the unity in faith whose supreme model and origin is found in the Unity of the Trinity may be strengthened and extended to the ends of the earth.” – Pope John Paul II (CCC pg xv)

    The CCC with its included references back to Holy Scripture is our main tool to combat heresy, schism, and error. For those who want to share info about the CCC including more quotes from our Popes, go to: “What Catholics REALLY Believe SOURCE”
    http://whatcatholicsreallybelieve.com .

  8. feargalmac says:

    I pray that the CDF continue their good work. Next target, the ACP please!

  9. mhazell says:

    Fr Flannery held a press conference to declare his dissent?? How proud, how arrogant, how self-indulgent: the man is, sadly, a prisoner of his generation.

    Prayers and intercessions that he might realise his errors, and the possible danger he is placing himself in the path of.

  10. Sixupman says:

    Yet because they do not widely publicise their views, I have experienced both bishops and clergy spouting rubbish, similar to that of Fr. Flannery, from the pulpit without let or hindrance – to great harm!

  11. Dennis Martin says:

    ‘also said that he does not believe that “the priesthood as we currently have it in the Church originated with Jesus.” ‘

    He agrees with one of the two things on which all Protestant Reformers agreed. The other was that the Mass is not an expiatory sacrifice. Wonder what he believes about that?

  12. dnicoll says:

    As a recent swimmer across the Tiber, priests like this break my heart.

    Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus….

    Papa Benedict is the Pope of Christian Unity.

  13. Bryan Boyle says:

    I hope I don’t get dinged for this…but my only comment reading this self-reverential claptrap coming from someone who should know better is “Boo freaking Hoo”. Get over yourself, Father. Conform or leave for more agreeable climes, like the CoE or some other fallen-away ‘me first’ sect. Your thinking is diseased and focused firmly on man, not God. It’s not about us. And certainly not about you or your agenda.

    Sheesh. “Callousness and brutality”? Seems to me like they gave him every chance to explain, conform, correct, restate, appeal, etc., but, like the little brat who obviously never grew up (as evidenced by his reaction and those of his fellow travelers in their ACP coven standing around their caldron stirring up bile and hatred towards the same organization which (foolishly) gives them three hots and a cot), the big, bad CDF is at fault because he was caught out and being punished. Wha wha wah.

    There is only so much you should be expected to forebear. Time to clean the Augean Stables of these dissidents who are putting souls at risk. You don’t stop cutting because the patient is screaming, right? Keep cutting, Holy Father.

  14. disco says:

    Church of Ireland probably has room for him.

  15. Scott W. says:

    Father Tony Flannery had been silenced by the Vatican last year because of his statements supporting the ordination of women and questioning Church teachings on contraception and on homosexuality.

    It’s rarely just one thing isn’t it? Anyway, I wish more dissidents would stand up and be counted as opposed to subtly trying to destroy truths from the shadows. Like another said, off you go Father. Nothing personal. We won’t waste any more of your time, please don’t waste any more of ours. Prayers for your conversion as always.

  16. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Nicely put, Scott W. esp about “it’s rarely just one thing”. That is very true, as Chesterton (and Lewis) noted.

  17. wmeyer says:

    Bryan Boyle said: There is only so much you should be expected to forebear.

    Indeed. I took note on Facebook of my unhappy observation Sunday of 15 (!) EMHCs at Mass. A friend suggested I just “let it go”, as I would be much happier. Seems to me like the old “go along to get along” thinking.

    My former parish has issued a new publication on their spring classes for adults. Each and every source they will use is the writing of a dissident. Well, that’s not quite true–I have no such knowledge about the Spanish classes.

    But if we sit idly by, what sort of stewardship is that?

  18. Choirmaster says:

    Clinton R. asks:

    So I would ask Fr. Flannery why exactly did he become a priest? I would think he would have known what the Catholic Church teaches.

    To answer a question like this we would have to know more about the conditions of his seminary formation. Considering the shocking (yet anecdotal) accounts given by Fr. Z and many other priests whom I have read or spoken to, I guess some of it had to do with the attitude and encouragement of Fr. Flannery’s formators. Look at it this way: if Fr. Z would have to ‘hide’ from the faculty at his seminaries, what interactions would someone like Fr. Flannery have with such faculty at a similar institution? Is it possible that they knew about his opinion of Catholic doctrine, but chose anyway to allow–or even encourage–him to continue? Or worse, could they have implied to him that this stuff was all just “policy” and the doctrine of an all-male ordained priesthood was nothing more than a “ban” on ordaining women?

    I bet everyone involved, from the seminarians to the bishop, were well aware of the situation but chose to double-down, thinking–as affirmed by the echo chambers they place themselves in–that their total victory was immanent. The only two problems with that plan are (1) nobody’s victory against the Church is immanent and (2) this kind of silliness is subsiding now-a-days and the CDF is turning her head to matters of dissident priests.

    I believe that’s how someone who has no love for the Church could become a priest.

  19. netokor says:

    I am saddened that these wolves have been given decades to destroy the Church. It’s also sad that it takes so long to get rid of them officially. But what really fills me with bitterness is that there are still so many of them in the Church carrying out their malicious agendas. However, we can make a difference. We can run from them as soon as we spot them, never supporting their ministry. We can bring attention to their dissent. These rats have too long infested the Holy Church.

  20. I too am saddened that a priest can wander so far from the faith. The ‘Reds’ or Redemptorists in Ireland, who once had a reputation for blood-curdling sermons and ultra-Catholic preaching, have been known as quite a liberal brigade for a long time now. Just read ‘Reality’. I am told they were quite experimental in their formation in the 70’s and since. His kind are not the majority among priests here though they have influence through the media and other channels. Rumour has it that it was Fr. Flannery who wrote the Taoiseach’s nasty speech about the Pope. If he and his ilk will not embrace the faith wholeheartedly then they should look elsewhere. Perhaps a few years in a C of I parish in Larne or East Belfast might bring him to his senses?

  21. alexandra88 says:

    I hear the Anglican Church is hiring.

  22. Scott W. says:

    P.S. Fr. Z. Your blog is doing that thing again where it gets incredibly slow to load.

  23. frjim4321 says:

    I’m psychic! I saw the words “hammered” and “cdf” and I knew right away it had to be about female presbyters!

  24. jaykay says:

    Frjim4321: it’s about a whole lot more than just that issue – it’s basically about “non serviam”.

    Read, if you can endure it, the self-serving twaddle of his opinion piece in yesterday’s Irish Times:


    I should explain that the IT is basically in the same stable as the NYT and the UK Guardian, so people like him are pretty much pushing an open door when it comes to getting a ready forum for their dissent, poor little put-upon martyr that he is. And for anyone who wishes to hold onto their stomach contents, I really wouldn’t advise reading the comments below the piece. Although for those who can, they are a good illustration of what passes for informed opinion among readers of Ireland’s soi-disant “paper of record”.

    Not holding my breath for equal space to be given to a column from an orthodox priest (or Bishop – although believe me, porcine aviation is more likely than the latter eventuality) affirming that the majority of Irish priests are faithful to their ordination vows and to legitimate authority.

  25. MarylandBill says:

    I find it unfortunate that the press give such fallen away priests and religious such coverage. Unfortunately the press is very selective in how it covers matters like this. If instead of the Church the dissident was say an employee of Greenpeace speaking out against Greenpeace policies, they probably would get no attention at all. Likewise, priests on the ultra-conservative side don’t get much attention for their dissent unless the press can make it seem like the dissent is in fact agreement with the Church.

  26. frjim4321 says:

    Thank you, I will read it.

    I am not familiar with this priest.

    As I mentioned before, as much as I might agree with positions taken by some rather zealous folk I have often found them very difficult to work with.

    For example, on a different but related topic, worked with a DRE with an obsession about inclusive language. Even though both the pastor and I were careful about avoiding culturally inappropriate gender exclusive language it was never good enough for this person and every staff meeting was miserable. We could never get any work done because that was her only issue.

    Also a priest friend who was on a campaign about ordaining married men to the presbyterate. Every single meeting that is what came up, and we could never get beyond it to anything else.

    So just from my own personal experience I would have to wonder how effective this person was in all aspects of ministry, how he got along with his peers in ministry, and why he would permit himself to be obsessed by something that has very chance of resolving in the near term.

  27. iowapapist says:

    Fr. Jim:

    Praise be to God! I believe that you are becoming one of us! There is a good explanation for that which you describe in James 3:13-3:18. Being an honest liberal has its price.

  28. JARay says:

    When he has gone (and he will go) time will dim his spotlight and from time to time, people will scratch their heads and say “Who was that Father Flanneling, you know, the one who disagreed with just about everything the Church teaches?”
    I’ve just scratched my head just now to remember that Fr. Roy Bourgeois! Remember him?

  29. Scott W. says:

    to remember that Fr. Roy Bourgeois! Remember him?

    I didn’t even know who he was before the kerfuffle. All these dissidents are Legion to me.

  30. Minnesotan from Florida says:

    Father Flannery writes, “[T]he Vatican . . . has not communicated with me directly, but to the head of the Redemptorists.” But he COMPLAINS that things are becoming too centralized in the Vatican!

  31. david andrew says:

    Here’s a bit of nonsense from the Jesuits (namely James Martin) at America Magazine, trying desperately to paint Fr. Flannery as a hero:

    The key in these cases is this: It is never an easy choice. One can say that in a perfect world justice and fidelity would always be one, but we see in some cases they are not: the person’s conscience does not allow him (or her) to live out the vow of obedience and so he speaks out; or the person’s vow of obedience does not allow him to speak out so he remains silent. Remember that an informed conscience is the ultimate arbiter in the moral life, and one should never violate one’s conscience, where, as the Second Vatican Council taught, we hear the echo of God’s voice. (Clearly Fr. Flannery, an educated and thoughtful priest, knows what a formed conscience is.)

    Let us pray for him, for all those who live in obedience, and for all those who seek justice.

    You can read the whole thing here: http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/irish-priests-defiance-some-context

  32. Johnny Domer says:

    There’s another way to look at this whole mess. Perhaps this priest genuinely thinks that these issues on which he is dissenting are not questions of doctrine where the Magisterium’s word is final. That may well be. He is certainly incorrect, but perhaps he is nevertheless sincere in his contention that this is “faithful opposition” rather than wrongful dissent. Perhaps.

    IF that is the case, though, he should have the integrity not to receive a paycheck from his diocese. If he wants to teach things in opposition to the Faith, fine; but he shouldn’t expect the Church to pay for his salary when he opposes its teachings and scorns its authority. I think it’s ridiculous that these dissenting priests both 1. insist on their right to dissent but 2. somehow think that they also have a right to a living from the Catholic Church. It’s either one or the other, can’t be both.

  33. jaykay says:

    Reading the Irish Times these days (only do it online, gave up buying the dead tree version long ago) has something of the fascination of looking at roadkill – you don’t really want to but…

    This is their second lead editorial today:


    O.k., it’s penned by their religious affairs “correspondent”, who is actually an activist – but that sort of goes with the territory these days. To give what’s basically a total non-story (dissident disagrees with Vatican, throws rattle out of pram) such prominence – that’s journalism? Honestly, to think that that paper has the audacity to consider itself the “paper of record”! “Mirror, mirror on the wall…”

  34. JARay says:

    Johnny Domer.
    May I ask you what Jesus said to those who said “This saying is too hard” when Jeus said that unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life within you?
    And, I’m sure that you remember that Jesus then turned to his Apostles and asked them what they were going to do…:-
    Peter then said “Lord to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life?’

  35. frahobbit says:

    Everything this priest says can be applied to himself in Capital letters. He does not see that his own words describe his own behaviour and attitudes.

  36. Norah says:

    Lewis was writing about Anglican priests but I think what he had to say would apply just as well to the Tony Flannerys of the Catholic world.

    To Dissenting Priests
    “It is your duty to fix the lines (of doctrine) clearly in your minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men. There is a danger here of the clergy developing a special professional conscience which obscures the very plain moral issue. Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines in either direction are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defense of those opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative Party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of the other.”

    –from Christian Apologetics by C.S. Lewis, Easter 1945.
    (Reprinted in God in the Dock pp. 89-90)

  37. Norah says:

    From Fr Ray Blake’s blog:

    It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.

    Pope Benedict XVI

  38. Pingback: Seminarians of Tradition Visit Abandoned Weigarten Monastery | Big Pulpit

  39. Vincent Ferrer says:

    This is nonsense. The canonical penalty for heresy is excommunication. Hans Kung hasn’t been excommunicated (nor even suspended). He’s in perfectly good standing as a priest, while spouting any number of heresies. There is a long list of people publicly teaching and espousing heresy, while claiming to be Catholics. No, the CDF isn’t doing anything remotely traditional here.

    And incidentally, John Paul II didn’t teach that women can’t be validly ordained priests. He simply said that the Catholic Church doesn’t have the authority to ordain women, a quite different thing. Nor did he proclaim (explicitly or implicitly) it heretical to maintain that women can be ordained.

    Re the previous post: “dissent” is a Protestant term, not a Catholic one. Sacred Scripture and Catholic Tradition talk about heresy, not “dissent.” In the post-Vatican II church, heresy isn’t even in the vocabulary.

  40. netokor says:

    I hope I am not disrespectful, but I have been unable to make my peace with the memory of JP II. When he also left it up bishops to decide whether girls could serve at the Altar, he gave the faithful a terrible slap. How could he not understand that the feminists can never be appeased until women are ordained as priests-priestesses? If he had not allowed liberal bishops to bring in girls, the feminist rage would have continued as intensely as it does now, but the faithful would have thanked him for his protection. He did no one a favor. The liberals were given false expectations and the faithful have suffered horrors. That is why the Latin Mass means so much to many of us. We can worship in peace, protected from scandalous distractions.

  41. Vincent Ferrer says:

    @Netokor, good comment, but maybe you don’t realize that JP II did not just “leave it up to the bishops” to have altar girls. He led the way by example. There were altar girls at Rome for quite some time before the “official” decision came out on that (and while lay people of conservative sort were making it a big campaign to appeal to JP II on the issue, a clueless proceeding). Altar girls have been forbidden by canon law since the earliest centuries of the Church. Likewise with women readers at Mass (that began at the time of Vatican II). They are forbidden by St. Paul and, therefore, by the Holy Ghost. People who don’t hold to the Apostolic traditions aren’t Catholics. It isn’t just a question of appeasing feminists. This is a major element in the Protestantizing of the Church.

  42. Vincent Ferrer says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “It takes a lot to get scrutinized by the CDF in the first place.” True. Apparently, what gets you scrutinized is not holding and teaching heresy, but getting a lot of publicity about it in the media. It’s well known that heresies are being taught in seminaries and published in any number of books, since the Council, without any notice being taken by any authorities. This is perfectly in accordance with the theory of the Modernist heretics on the role of authority in the Church, as brilliantly described in the encyclical Pascendi by St. Pius X. It isn’t to suppress heresy and enforce public profession of the Deposit of Faith (which they do not believe in anyway), but merely to moderate the introduction of new ideas by the experts in theological progress (theologians) so as not to upset the masses, as happened in Luther’s time. Luther was the religious genius of his time (like Galileo and Newton in science), but things went too fast and there was a violent break, which is now being healed by the gentle methods of Paul VI and Vatican II (and, of course, Benedict XVI). This is the Modernist program. On the other hand, all who oppose their “progress” are to be mercilessly eliminated.

  43. jhnewman says:

    “Either I sign a statement, for publication, stating that I accepted teachings that I could not accept, or I would remain permanently banned from priestly ministry, and maybe face more serious sanctions,”

    More serious sanctions than being banned from exercising the precious gift of the priesthood?

    Mindset is flawed from the bottom up.

  44. jhnewman says:

    Also, it just struck me…

    he does not believe that “the priesthood as we currently have it in the Church originated with Jesus.”

    So… he doesn’t behave like “a priest as we currently have them”, the fantastically arrogant subtext being “I can do what I want, I don’t have to submit to that hierarchy of priests who are nothing like Jesus’ ones, I’m your actual apostle”

    Just said a prayer for him.

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