Why Irish Fr. Tony Flannery was censured by the CDF

From Protect The Pope comes this useful clarification:

Fr Flannery’s heretical views on the Eucharist and Priesthood are the reason why CDF intervened – Cardinal Lavada explains


Cardinal Levada, the former Prefect of the CDF, has explained to The Irish Catholic newspaper that the reason why he intervened to censure and restrict the Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery was because his writings on the Eucharist and Priesthood were heretical. Cardinal Levada spoke out to refute the falsehood being spread in the media by Fr Flannery that he had been disciplined because of his support for married priests. [It is not heresy to suggest that priests should be married.  Marriage and priesthood do not exclude each other.  Flannery’s problems were far worse and merited the intervention of the doctrinal congregation.]

Cardinal Levada explained:

‘He [Fr Flannery] likes to say ‘because I’m for married priests’. This is not the case: he wrote two articles in Reality magazine in which he questioned, undermined, the teaching of the Church on the Eucharist and on the priesthood. If you hold these positions you are formally in heresy [in the Catholic Church]. For Martin Luther, or the Protestant reformers, they were key issues and they denied these doctrines of the Church,” the cardinal said.


Cardinal Levada also challenged those dissenters like Fr Flannery who criticise the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

‘Dr Levada also said that “there are many critics of the congregation who are essentially critics of the faith, of Jesus, of God.

“I’m not trying to overstate the case, but, I think we represent a challenge to a highly-secularised mentality,” he said.  [Absolutely.  And Pope Francis will continue to rely on the CDF.  Keep in mind also that the CDF’s process by which a theologian’s questionable notions are examined evolves in many stages and involves many theologians.  Card. Ratzinger refined the process out of justice to the errant theologian and out of intellectual humility.  Theologians who are examined by the CDF are given the opportunity to explain or defend their writings and, if they can’t, to amend.  And the process takes quite a while.]

It is understood that the particular remarks that aroused concern in the Vatican were in a 2010 article in which Fr Flannery wrote: “I no longer believe that the priesthood, as we currently have it in the Church, originated with Jesus. [Yep.  That’s heresy.]

“More likely that sometime 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”.

Examples of Fr Flannery’s heresy:

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. ” [Yep.  That’s heresy.  And it probably aims at condoning, if not promoting, homosexual acts.]


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, [aka The Ass. of Catholic Priests] presuming to speak on behalf of the Catholic priests of Ireland:


You can read the rest of Flannery’s B as in B, S as in S over there.  It is illuminating.  It is helpful to review his errors, because his heresy leads others into errors.  One heretical book can do a lot of damage.

This is the reason why the CDF conducted a doctrinal examination of the LCWR.  The CDF and US Archbishops Sartain and Blair are less interested in whether sisters wear habits or live in community.  Those are matters for the Congregation for Religious.  The CDF wants to know what sort of formation the sisters are being offered, what ideas shape their religious lives.  Books will play a role in how the sisters are formed.  The works of others sisters, such as those of Margaret Farley or of Sandra Schneiders or other bizzaro-world theologians are favorites of LCWR types.  They can twist the minds and souls of women religious, and those they influence, into seriously weird pretzels.  In turn, then perhaps these de-formed sisters will go out to work in schools or hospitals and in their actions reflect the weird teachings they imbibed.

This is why the CDF is and will be important for Pope Francis.  Even as he puts a kinder face on the Church (which the MSM is lapping up), he knows that the Faith must be defended.  Now more than ever the Faith must be defended!  Liberals think they have the big mo, right now.  Perhaps they even think that now that Pope Fluffy is finally here, they think they have license to be “prophetic” (code language for “licensed to dissent” against what they term the “official” or “hierarchical” Church).

Let us not forget what Francis said in The Big Interview™ about, for example, homosexuality. HERE

Let us also not forget that former-Father Greg Reynolds is still excommunicated.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. It has taken long enough! The orthodox in Ireland have long known that Flannery and co., were ‘dodgy’ and that Reality (a Redemptorist publication) was another ‘Bitter Pill’. The CDF and our bishops should take some lessons from gardening: the earlier one gets at the weeds the less damage they get to do. They have had years to spread seeds of doubt and dissent and only now that they are old and dying is anything finally being done. I know and believe that everyone is entitled to due process and a just and fair trial but if the procedures were amended to deal more swiftly with child abusers among the clergy could they not be amended to deal more swiftly with dissenters and heretics? The biological solution can be too slow at times!

  2. gheg says:

    “More likely that sometime 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”.

    Maybe I’ll start to be impressed by the profundity of Fr. Flannery’s thought when he learns the difference between “abrogated” and “arrogated”. On second thought probably not.

  3. ReginaMarie says:

    As an Eastern Catholic, I appreciate your comment: “Marriage and priesthood do not exclude each other. ” And to clarify for readers, the Eastern Catholic Churches do not permit priests to marry, but married men may receive Holy Orders (though it is not common here in the US).

  4. jaykay says:

    Br Tom Forde is right. There seems to be a mixture of the good and the dodgy with the Redemptorists here in Ireland. Our local Redemptorist church is packed during the annual St. Gerard Majella Novena, they have hours of confessions on Saturdays, and they have recently opened a new House of Formation for the increasing number of young men who have discerned a vocation. All good. On the other hand, when a member of the local Pro-Life team, as part of a pastoral event they were hosting, wished to speak in the context of the then ongoing campaign against our evil abortion legislation, she was advised that it was “divisive” and basically refused permission. Yet someone else was allowed to speak on “gay” issues! So for every good development – the new seminary – there seems to be a pull back towards the bad old days, and the “Reality” magazine is, as Bro. Forde says, reminiscent of the Pill. I just hope that their new young seminarians will be granted the grace to discern the wheat from the tares. They will need it!

  5. chantgirl says:

    Ahh, so if I had explained to my parents that I could fornicate because the quality of my relationships merited it, they would have been totally cool with that? Sorry, but dissidents often resort to revisionist history when they want to get away with something of which the parental figures (Church doctrine, God, conscience) would never approve. Sounds like a smack-down was in order.

  6. We had a priest who taught at our seminary when I was there, who veered close to Fr. Flannery’s position on holy orders. I say “veered,” because he never came right out and stated it; he always hedged and hinted. An aside: he had the habit, so common to theologians, of using a stilted, awkward sort of “English,” involving not only obscure words, but more than that, an pretzelly sort of sentence structure that is impossible to describe: it has to be experience. The result is that we sat there, glancing at each other, as if to say, “did he say what I think he said?”

    Well, thankfully, in my time most of the seminarians weren’t having any of that nonsense about holy orders. I mean, think about it: if he’s right about that, why become a priest? So when one of us put up a hand and cut through the gobbledygook (it may have been me, but I don’t remember–we would tag-team), the look in his eye as he backed away in his answer. At least in our seminary, heads were starting to roll. He liked his right where it was.

  7. GOR says:

    I agree with Br. Tom Forde. Over the years I have been shocked at some of the writings of priests in Ireland – especially those who were – and are – the darlings of the media.

    My question is the same: Where were their superiors? Where were their bishops?

    Who knows how many people have been led astray by these priests – and their superiors who didn’t have the time or gumption to call them to order. In Ireland there has been an anti-Vatican mindset among some of the clergy and hierarchy for many years. The intervention of the CDF was seen by many as ‘Rome interfering with a heavy hand’.

    Well, if you are not willing to put your house in order and if you are failing to protect the faith of the people, don’t complain when the Vatican has to do your job for you.

    They shouldn’t have to – and wouldn’t – if you were exercising your responsibilities.

  8. Anabela says:

    I am delighted to hear that a new Confraternity for Catholic Clergy has been set up in Ireland at long last. The damage the ACP has done in our Church in Ireland to the Priesthood and Vocations is obvious. The new Confraternity has been set up by Fr. Gerard Deighan who is also over the Latin Mass Chaplaincy in Dublin. This Confraternity is open to Bishops, Priests and Deacons and can be contacted at ccceire@gmail.com. It would also be good to see a Lay affiliate to help support in prayer and encouragement the Fraternity and not interfere with their Priestly ministry. There is way too much clericalisation of the Laity here in Ireland and it has done and is doing enormous damage to the Priesthood, Parish life and to vocations. It is really time for those laity who are faithful and who wish to be so, to speak up for and defend our faith in our country as we have accepted far too much for far too long. Let us pray for the new Confraternity and support it and support our Priests and help them to be the Priests God intended them to be. The salvation of souls is at stake here so we need to wake up. God bless you Fr. for all the work you do and pray for us in Ireland. I think a new day is dawning with this new Confraternity.

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