A leading Dublin priest has resigned a senior position in the Catholic Church over the treatment of liberal priest Tony Flannery by the Vatican.

Fr John Hassett stood down as a dean of Maynooth Deanery but will remain a parish priest in Dublin reports The Irish Times. The dean position gave him high standing among clergy in his diocese and beyond.

He says he is taking the drastic step “over an issue that is neither specifically my own nor diocesan....it is extremely distressing and depressing the manner in which Fr Flannery has been dealt with by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” Fr Hassett said.

Flannery has been threatened with excommunication by the Vatican agency because of his support for an end to celibacy, gay rights and women priests.

“I was ordained nearly 33 years ago and can say with certitude that if the truth were told, some of his views are shared by many priests of the archdiocese of Dublin said Hassett.

“It is a sad reflection on the rights of the person and the pre-eminence of conscience that a man of such integrity, kindness and stature is treated in such a manner.

“Of course, he is not the first and perhaps will not be the last to be thus treated as Rome is a law unto itself.”

He continued: “We now live in a church where courage is silenced by fear, and one can only reflect that the gospel we cherish and struggle to live seems to be a ‘dead letter’ within Vatican bureaucracy.”

In a related development some priests in the diocese of Clogher and the Bishop from that diocese which covers Monaghan and parts of Fermanagh, Tyrone, Donegal, Louth and Cavan, have expressed concern about the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) website and its leadership. The ACP is a liberal group of priests who challenge orthodoxy.

The Clogher clergy expressed their concern at the direction of the ACP.

“Much of the commentary and opinion offered on the website does not represent the views of its membership, at least judging from ourselves.”

“One voice compared our association to a growing child, and suggested that at national level, the time had come for the ACP to grow up.”

The Vatican has purchased a $31 million share of the Rome apartment block that houses Europe’s biggest gay sauna.Google Images