Bishop cancels talk by liberal priest Fr Tony Flannery

By Patsy Mcgarry
Irish Times
August 21, 2015

A talk to be given at a community centre in Cloyne diocese by Fr Tony Flannery (above), who holds liberal views on women priests, homosexuality and contraception, has been cancelled. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A talk to be given by Fr Tony Flannery at a community centre in Cloyne diocese has been cancelled by order of Bishop William Crean.

It’s understood the invitation was issued to Fr Flannery by the parish pastoral council of Killeagh in east Cork and he had agreed to give the opening address at its Spiritfest 2015 over the last weekend in September.

In 2012 Fr Flannery was suspended from public ministry by the Vatican’s Congregation of the Faith (CDF) for his more liberal views on women priests, homosexuality and contraception.

Personal representations

When he became aware of the invitation to Fr Flannery, Bishop Crean made personal representations to the parish priest of Killeagh, Fr Timothy Hazelwood, and to Fr Flannery’s superiors in the Redemptorist congregation.

He followed up with a visit to Killeagh parish this week where he met pastoral council members, after which the invitation to Fr Flannery was withdrawn.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, Bishop Crean said while the parish pastoral council extended the invitation to Fr Flannery in good faith, he had “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”.

Out of ministry

He added: “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 in its position in order to continue to earn the trust of the faithful.

“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.”

Fr Flannery told The Irish Times he found the actions of Bishop Crean “quite extraordinary......particularly in the age of Pope Francis”.

He felt that “the ease with which the Bishop dismissed the pastoral council and told them what to do” illustrated “how meaningless is all this talk of giving more power to the laity”.


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