Bishops refuse to meet with silenced priests

The country’s bishops refused to meet with six Irish priests silenced by the Vatican claiming their predicament was not an issue for the Irish hierarchy as the priests were members of religious orders and not diocesan priests.

Fr Tony Flannery, one of the six priests censured by Rome, has just published a book highlighting the “inhumanity” of the secret process used against him by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s watchdog on theology.

Fr Flannery, a Redemptorist, is also harshly critical of the country’s bishops saying they consistently fail to provide leadership and are incapable of standing up to clericalism in the Vatican. He says they provided no support to the six silenced priests who have suffered much private torment since taken to task by Rome.

“One of the big frustrations has been trying to deal with the bishops. Trying to deal with them is impossible, ” he said. “There is no possibility of the bishops taking a stand, the Irish Bishops Conference is a dysfunctional body and there is no real leadership. The one amongst the bishops that has the most capacity to lead is Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin but for whatever reason he has not assumed this role,” he said.

Describing the CDF’s attitude to him and its lack of due process, Fr Flannery said: “They didn’t seem to have the slightest interest in meeting me or hearing my side of the story, I was clearly of no consequence to them as a person,” he writes.

The CDF never directly dealt with Fr Flannery, using the Redemptorists’ Superior General Michael Brehl as messenger. They also ordered that their grievances with Fr Flannery, over writings in the order’s Reality Magazine that they say were contrary to the teachings of the Church, were to be kept entirely secret.

In the book, Fr Flannery says that his new insight into the workings of the Vatican has led to a “crisis of faith”, but yet he has “a great fondness for the Church” and misses saying Mass terribly.

Last night, a spokesman for the Conference of Bishops said Irish bishops have met with representatives of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP).

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