Group to hold vigil against Vatican’s silencing of liberal priests

A lay religious group will hold a silent vigil outside the residence of the papal nuncio in protest at the silencing of four liberal priests.

Participants are being encouraged to wear gags as a symbol of protest outside the Apostolic Nunciature in Dublin, on Sunday week.

It was revealed recently that Fr Tony Flannery, a founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, was ordered by Rome to discontinue writing for the Redemptorists’ magazine.

His editor, Fr Gerry Moloney, was also warned not to publish any content that ran contrary to church teachings.

Two years ago, Fr Owen O’Sullivan, a Capuchin, and Fr Sean Fagan, a Marist, were also silenced for controversial writing.

The group, We are Church Ireland, said the planned vigil was “to express solidarity with our silenced priests and others who wish to remain anonymous”.

Gina Menzies, lecturer in medical ethics at the Royal College of Surgeons and a friend of Fr Fagan, has lent her support to the vigil.

Up to 200 Catholics are members of We are Church Ireland, including “dozens of nuns”, said Brendan Butler, a group spokesman.

“Across the board, there is a need for Catholics to come out in support of these men who have been silenced for speaking their mind. But we have noted particular support for the vigil from religious sisters who feel very vulnerable as they are not considered clergy but are considered lay people by the Vatican. They can be dispensed with quite quickly,” he said.

The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith — the Church’s orthodoxy watchdog — this week ordered a crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the US. It represents about 57,000 nuns. According to Rome, the group is undermining Catholic teaching on homosexuality and is promoting “feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith”.


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