Outspoken cleric Fr Tony Flannery has been ordered to go to a monastery and ‘pray and reflect’ on his situation by the Vatican.
The Irish Times reports that the Redemptorist priest, already silenced by religious leaders in Rome, has been told to return with thinking in line with church thinking.
Fr Flannery was ordered to stop his controversial magazine column as the Church tries to silence his views on contraception, celibacy and women’s ordination.
Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests has spoken out in support of Fr Flannery, one of its founding members.
And there is growing anger among sections of the Irish clergy at this latest attempt to gag Fr Flannery and get him back in line with Vatican policy.
Senior Vaticanologist Gerry O’Connell, via the Rome-based website Vatican Insider, has reported that Fr Flannery was summonsed to Rome in March when he met with Fr Michael Brehl, the Canadian Superior General of the Redemptorists.
According to the report, Fr Brehl had earlier been summoned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) by the prefect, US Cardinal William Levada.
Cardinal Levada expressed concerns about the ‘orthodoxy of the views expressed by Fr Flannery in articles in the Redemptorist magazine Reality.
The Irish Times reports that the CDF was also concerned about Fr Flannery’s role in the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP).
The report states that the CDF banned Fr Flannery and the editor of Reality, Fr Gerard Moloney, from writing articles on the above issues, and called on Fr Flannery to withdraw from the ACP.
Now it has emerged that Fr Flannery was also advised to ‘take time out for spiritual and theological reflection on all of the above’.
Fr Flannery has been ordered to reflect on his position over a six week period with the issue expected to be ‘resolved’ by the end of July.
Clergy in Ireland are angry at the treatment of Fr Flannery with well-known Jesuit priest Fr Peter McVerry the latest to declare support.
“I am saddened but not surprised at Rome’s actions in ending Fr Flannery’s monthly column,” wrote Fr McVerry on the ACP website.
“Attempts by Rome to suppress any discussion are surely a sign of fear. Jesus questioned the religious institution in which he had been brought up, its attitudes, laws and practices, and the understanding of God which those attitudes and practices revealed, a God whose passion was the observance of the Law.
“Jesus revealed, instead, a God of compassion who is incompatible with the God of the law. Jesus too incurred the wrath of the religious authorities of his time.”
The ACP has also defended Fr Flannery and criticised the Vatican’s stance as reported on irishcentral.com