Rebel priest accepts he can’t return to ministry
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Fr Flannery, 71, has now learned that he was ‘not suspended but withdrawn’ by the Redemptorists, under the instructions of the Vatican.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.’