Sunday, 8 April 2012

Fr Tony Flannery

After giving up blogging for Lent (with the exception of March 20th) I’m not sure I have the enthusiasm to return to it.  However, after the news of the last few weeks voices need to be heard, especially those that are silenced.  

I especially refer to Fr  Tony Flannery, Redemptorist priest and member of the Irish Association of Catholic Priests. The Irish Times has an article that explains Fr Flannery has been censured by the church and effectively silenced whilst it investigates him and his views.  Such treatment is deplorable. 

This censure follows hot on the heels of Pope Benedict’s criticism of the Austrian Priests Initiative in his Chrism Mass homily.  Once again the RC church is into condemnation and anathemas rather than dialogue.  Perhaps this is because the Vatican’s arguments just don’t stand up to scrutiny.  Christ made each of us a new creation.  The Vatican just wants clones.  Sad !


Anonymous said...

I do not agree with you.
Fr Flannery should be a servant of the church, but he and his ilk appear to think they are masters of the Church.

Contemplative Catholic said...

At least we have the freedom to agree and disagree. If Fr Flannery thought of himself as a master, surely following Benedicts style of leadership he would silence the Pope as the pope has effectively silenced him. All Fr Flannery has done is invite dialogue. If there is no place for dialogue in the RC Church why not just say. I guess the same would have been said of all those lay people who disagreed withmost bishops during the Arian controversy, when the heresy was the major position of the church in the 4th century. Vox Populi vox Dei ? . . . dead in the Tiber.

Anonymous said...

Yes, in the words of Msgr. Philip Hughes, "the world groaned to find itself Arian".
Nevertheless I cannot remember ever reading of a Pope who supported Arianism.
The Pope is the divinely appointed teacher, not Fr. Flannery or Fr. Brendan Hoban. To my mind that is the salient point. "Tu es Petrus"

Contemplative Catholic said...

Was Fr Flannery suggesting he was divinely appointed ? Was he denying the 'Petrine Office?' I think he was inviting dialogue, which the church in the 4th century could manage, but not in the 21st

Anonymous said...

If the Vatican sources are correct when they said the investigation,was prompted by the priest’s opposition to the Church’s ban on artificial birth control and his support for the ordination of women, then he was not inviting dialogue but expressing opposition and putting forward a different teaching. The investigation is also expected to focus as well on the Association of Catholic Priests, which Fr Flannery co-founded.

William D. Lindsey said...

Happy Easter, Contemplative. I'm glad you're back and blogging again. You do a great deal to keep us informed, and I'm grateful for it--as I'm sure many others. Have a wonderful Easter.

EditorCT said...

It is simply laughable to claim that Fr Flannery and his ACP seek "dialogue" - I've tried to post two comments on their blog in the past couple of days and neither made it on to the page.
Ditto previous attempts. They want to push their own agenda for change and they are determined bullies who won't brook any opposition. Dialogue? I've writte, in the past, to each one of them and not received the courtesy of an acknowledgement let alone a response.

They are outright dissenters,who manifestly do not believe in the divine constitution of the Church. Even a cursory glance at the objectives of the ACP make this crystal clear. The Pope, belatedly, is exercising some authority - but I'm not holding my breath. We could yet see the usual weak overturning of this directive and, very likely, an apology for upsetting Fr Flannery's feelings. Oh for a pope who acts like a pope, literally without apology.

William D. Lindsey said...

How fascinating, EditorCT, that you should see acting without apology as the fundamental signifier of apostolic authority.

When I think of Peter, the rock on whom Christ founded his church, I think of a man whom Jesus gave a chance to apologize for his triple betrayal--by asking Peter three times if Peter loved him.

And I think of a man whom Jesus gently chided for his obtuseness at comparing himself to John and wanting his future and John's to be identical to each other.

And I think of how Paul had to set Peter right on the issue of ritual purity laws and the early church.

When I think of the biblical testimony about the first pope, I think of apologies in abundance--and I think of how grace abounded precisely in proportion to the ability of that good man to admit when he was wrong, and to apologize for his wrongdoing.

How far we've moved from Jesus and the biblical foundations of the church, it seems.

Contemplative Catholic said...

Dear William,
Thank you so much for stopping by with words of encouragement. I’ve been away from my PC for about 24 hours celebrating Easter with friends. I returned to read what EditorCT said and your reply. I need add no more – thankyou.

My thirst for blogging has been well and truly reawakened after my Lenten ‘fast.’

I had begun to forget how the blogsphere has people who don’t just have an either/or binary view of life and faith but can celebrate “both/and” whilst holding all the tension, paradox and seemingly opposite grace in both hands . . . . . (with compliments to Richard Rohr) and many thanks for your encouragement

EditorCT said...

William D Lindsay,

Notably, you ignore the fact in my post that the ACP censor those who oppose their dissent, while claiming the high ground on "dialogue". Silence denoting consent, I'll take it you have no problem with such dishonesty.

As for your rather strange interpretation of papal apologies, I can only presume that you are unaware of the definition of "Supreme". The Pope is the Supreme Pontiff, the supreme ruler of the Church and it is his duty to discipline dissenters. The dissenters, remember, are denying a key Catholic doctrine: that when Christ gave Peter the "keys" - the symbol of authority to rule - He bequeathed His own divine authority on them. So, all the things the dissenters want changed, are revealed (by God) truths. How can you support this? That's not a "fundamentalist view" although it is to have an "either/or" view - either you accept the claims of the Catholic Church or you don't. Simple. Which of the early Fathers was it who said: "Truth is always simple; it is error that is immense."

Have you ever heard the members of any of the political parties demanding "dialogue" when one of their number departs publicly from party policy to push his/her own agenda? Why not? Because it is a blankey blank nonsense, that's why not.

I haven't joined any political party because I don't like any of their policies and I don't trust politicians. I would, however, respect, even less, a person who took office in a political party and then publicly caused mayhem by doing his/her own thing.

Christ told His infant Church: "He that hears you, hears Me."

There was no mention made of Fr Tony Flannery.

William D. Lindsey said...

CC, you're welcome. Very happy to have you back.

I agree with you wholeheartedly about the crippling effects of the either/or binary thinking in our church. I've just uploaded a posting to my Bilgrimage site reflecting on it.

I use a snippet from the recent book of essays of Marilynne Robinson, in which she argues that imagination is fundamental to community, since community requires that we see those who are only tangentially related to us as part of us. Without this imaginative extension of our either-or boundaries, community beyond the narrow confines of family is impossible--as she notes.

And so binary thinking, with its either-or oppositions cripples the imagination that is the very precondition for community--an insight that, in my view, has powerful implications for Catholicism, with our notion that church should be "here comes everybody."

William D. Lindsey said...

Editor CT, I didn't comment on your report of censorship by the ACP group because I know nothing of their regulations, and have no knowledge about why they might censor you or anyone.

I'm sorry you find the biblical foundations of the Petrine ministry in the church "rather strange." In my view, insofar as the Petrine ministry keeps losing sight of its biblical foundations, it strays from its purpose in the church.

EditorCT said...

William Lindsay,

If you visit the ACP blog you will see their regulations listed. I broke none of them but if you read the posts already there you will see a (light, I accept, last time I looked) crudity and plenty of remarks about the Vatican and those who agree with the Vatican action against Fr Flannery, that break their "regulations". They're not really into "dialogue" - that's obvious. The Catholic Truth blog, for example, has only one rule: you don't use bad language. A known troublemaker will be moderated, nobody else. THAT'S "dialogue".

What on EARTH do you mean about the "biblical foundations of the Petrine Office" - quote anything from scripture that says the Pope mustn't discipline.

What I find "rather strange" is yuour entire attitude to the issue of priests who publicly tell the world that they don't believe in key Catholic doctrines, being disciplined. Get a grip.

William D. Lindsey said...

EditorCT, thanks for your reply.

You say, "[Q\uote anything from scripture that says the Pope mustn't discipline."

I think perhaps the onus might be on you to quote anything in scripture that uses the term Pope.


Anonymous said...

Has it ever dawned on any of these bloggers, sincere and otherwise, that there is no scriptural basis for the petrine office. It is a human construct created by a group of power grabbers in the early church. The church in the immediate aftermath of Christ's ascention into heaven was lead by at least three people that we are aware of, Peter, Paul and James.Christ's giving of the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter is the same as I giving the keys of my house to someone who loves me. This does not mean that others are not welcome.I would expect the person who loves me to welcome all who I invite.Love has very little to do with power

EditorCT said...

CC writes:
"I think perhaps the onus might be on you to quote anything in scripture that uses the term Pope"

Don't be daft. The fact that the term "Pope" isn't in Scripture means nothing. The term "Trinity" isn't there either - and the problem is?

As for the nonsense about those of us whom you castigate for an "either/or" binary view of life... That's something we share with the Person who said: "Unless you keep My Commandments, you cannot have life in you."

Sounds pretty "either/or" to me.

William D. Lindsey said...

I'm sorry you seen unable to understand my point, EditorCT.

I never said that a word has to be in the scriptures in order to be theologically or doctrinally valid.

I have indicated that whatever doctrines we hold must be rooted in the scriptures as their foundation and source. They mustn't move in a direction opposite to the witness of scripture.

Either/or binary thinking does poison the mind when it seeks to understand these theological points, doesn't it?

William D. Lindsey said...

"Unless you keep My Commandments, you cannot have life in you."

"This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you."

“Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The scriptures positively resist either/or binary formulations, since they speak of love as the central virtue for followers of Jesus--not adherence to doctrinal formulations. Love is by its very nature open-ended, always demanding more.

Jesus also spells it out as giving oneself entirely to the other, serving one another, humbling oneself and not lording it over others.

All models for Christian life--and for the behavior of popes as well, I daresay.

McQuade said...

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him." Fr.Flannery obviously doesn't agree with some Church teachings on issues based on his interpretation of Scripture. And in your blog you are proposing dialogue instead of censor as a better way.

Dialogue is an exchange of ideas or opinions. What do you hope to achieve by such dialogue? Are you hoping to change the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church? That is, the teaching of the Pope and of the bishops in communion with him? Or don't you agree with even having a Magisterium or a Pope or a communion? Are you proposing a Church that teaches by consensus?

Apologies for the loaded questions and maybe your earlier blogs explains your position. Apologies also for not researching your views first.

However, as a relatively recent revert to Catholicism I am aware of dissention in the clergy but I fail to understand what the dissenters hope to achieve and how they hope to achieve it without tearing the Church apart and undermining it's teaching authority. I don't understand how the Church can be a teaching Church if it can't claim to have the Christ-given authority to teach especially on matters of faith or morality. I'm writing these comments in order that you might help me understand what exactly it is you are trying to change and how you propose it should be done.

The issue of married priests is one thing but teaching on other matters like artificial contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexuality etc are more than just disciplines. Surely they are set in stone as Church doctrine.

The Church's teaching on matters of faith and morals is either always true for all times or it isn't. Surely, it can't have some things correct and other things totally wrong. If it teaches error at all then what's the point in being Catholic as it isn't the true Church established by Christ. If it doesn't reliably teach the truth then how can we by ourselves know the truth. Is it by consensus and dialogue? Are you proposing the end of the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition?

I'm genuinely interestend in finding out what it is that you want the Church to change and why. And if you could be specific and avoid the over use of the word 'dialogue' that would be great!

Contemplative Catholic said...

Dear McQuaide
Thank you so much for your comments which for the blogging world were so politely put. I’m not an eloquent person by any means but hopefully will answer most of your queries.

You wrote: According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him."

Is this really true ? What about the theological principle of reception ? How about vox populi vox dei ? Newmans essay “On consulting the faithful on matters of Doctrine,” blows that statement out of the water. Remember Pope Paul VI said that Humane Vitae was not infallible teaching.

You also said : "Are you proposing a Church that teaches by consensus?"

Is not the the vox populi vox dei a consensus ?

And again you said: "I fail to understand what the dissenters hope to achieve and how they hope to achieve it without tearing the Church apart and undermining it's teaching authority."

No one is denying the church’s authority to teach but teaching implies a two way process of education. More and more the church isn’t teaching but imposing.

In imposing itself is it really showing forth Christ ? When did Jesus demand conformity to any teaching. Surely if faith were as simple as accepting the Catechism of the Catholic Church without question then Jesus didn’t do his job properly.

As for what the so called ‘dissenters’ want to achieve . . . even if it is only the issue of a married priesthood . . .there would be no change of doctrine only discipline. Yet anyone who calls for a change in this discipline is considered a dissenter or attacking the Pope.

An issue of censure is surely a sledge hammer cracking a nut.

Take an example of Papal teaching. John XXIII in Veterum Sapientia proposed that seminary training be undertaken in latin. As far as I am aware no seminary does this. Using the logic expressed by those who object to so called dissenters, then all seminaries who don’t use latin for their lectures are in direct dissent with the Pope.

I think things are not as black and white as people think. It was only over a century ago that the church held the Genesis view of Creation. Biblical criticism has come a long way since then but the church appears to love keeping the faithful in a sort of biblical infantilism.

Certain biblical images are considered set in stone eg. The nativity story, yet the church would not infallibly state that it is a true account of the birth of Jesus. This to my mind encourages a spiritual infantilism.

It is the idea that everything would be well and dandy if we all just get behind the Pope hitch up our skirts and walk forward in faith that I personally find misguided. Popes in the past have been a wonderful model of immorality.

I also take issue that many priests are asked to take a profession of faith as they assume an office such as parish priest. It includes the following . . .
“Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.”

Affirming the above doesn’t assure the priest is a spiritually alive and mature individual. It only implies passive acceptance of a set of rules and regulations.

There is more to being a Pope than being an authoritarian. Perhaps Frs Flannery et al might have a legitimate view.

Great ‘Dissenters’ of the past included St Catherine of Siena. Why is it that some in the 21st century assume dissenting has become a yard stick for unorthodoxy ?

thank you so much for your contribution C.C.