Rebel priest ac­cepts he can’t re­turn to min­istry

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS -

AN OUT­SPO­KEN priest cen­sured by the Vat­i­can has said he now re­alises he will never be able to re­turn to ac­tive min­istry, af­ter a six-year dead­lock with the Church.

Fa­ther Tony Flan­nery, of the Redemp­torist Or­der, was cen­sured in Fe­bru­ary 2012 af­ter he op­posed the Church on nu­mer­ous is­sues, in­clud­ing the prospect of women priests, con­tra­cep­tion and Catholic sex­ual teach­ing.

Fr Flan­nery, 71, has now learned that he was ‘not sus­pended but with­drawn’ by the Redemp­torists, un­der the in­struc­tions of the Vat­i­can. To be al­lowed to re­turn to ac­tive du­ties, he would have to pre­pare and sub­mit ‘a state­ment of ac­cep­tance on Church teach­ing’ – to be ap­proved by the Con­gre­ga­tion for the Doc­trine of the Faith – that he will not pub­lish or give in­ter­views on those same is­sues, or oth­ers which con­tra­dict the Church’s stance. The same state­ment was sought by the CDF from Fr Flan­nery six years ago. He said this week: ‘There is no change in my po­si­tion. I don’t ex­pect ever to ex­er­cise priestly min­istry again.

‘But in a way, I am dis­ap­pointed, be­cause Pope Fran­cis is more lib­eral and I thought it might have been re­solved.’

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