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The Irish Association of Catholic Priests should stop using Vatican II to justify its defiance of papal teaching: some of us know what the Council actually said

Rome is right, not before time, to “silence” Father Tony Flannery

By on Friday, 13 April 2012

I see that the Irish so-called Association of Catholic Priests (a title which misleadingly implies that it is representative of the views of most Irish clergy) is in the papers again, this time for expressing its support for Father Tony Flannery, who has been “silenced” by “The Vatican”: that is, he has been told to stop writing articles attacking the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church, which he consistently describes as being simply the views of a clique of reactionary clergy who have seized power in the Roman curia, and have decided to suppress as far as they are able the freedom of speech of everyone else.

Father Flannery, it may be remembered, came out in support of the Taioseach, Enda Kenny, when he scurrilously attacked the Pope last year: “I was happy with the Taoiseach’s statement”, he said; “Many of us priests are frustrated with the way the Vatican conducts its business.” Maybe he was more than just “happy” with the statement: indeed, David Quinn, of the Iona Community, former editor of the Irish Catholic, asked an interesting question “Did a priest angry at Rome [i.e. Fr Flannery] help him write the speech?…. One could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that he was trying to encourage the creation of an Irish Catholic Church, as distinct from the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland.”

Quinn’s theory, so far as I know, was never denied, and it has a certain plausibility. One of the Taioseach’s top advisers is one Frank Flannery, Fr Flannery’s brother; and Fr Flannery is one of the founders of the aforementioned Association of Catholic Priests., which calls for the establishment of a national Church, separate from Rome, that would be conducted “democratically”. The ACP was formed less than 2 years ago, and kicked off by demanding that the Church should “re-evaluate” a number of its teachings, notably those on the ordination of women, artificial birth control and priestly celibacy.

This Association of Catholic Priests has now declared that it is “disturbed” that Fr Flannery is under investigation by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF): well, it would, wouldn’t it? Fr Flannery himself founded it, it’s his mouthpiece: but the way the ACP goes on, you’d think the Irish clergy had risen up as one man in his defence (they haven’t). In a statement yesterday, the ACP said (in other words Father Flannery said) “we affirm in the strongest possible terms our confidence in and solidarity with Fr Flannery and we wish to make clear our profound view that this intervention is unfair, unwarranted and unwise”. It (he) also said among other things that “While some reactionary fringe groups have contrived to portray our association as a small coterie of radical priests with a radical agenda [No!!! surely not], we have protested vehemently against that unfair depiction. We are and we wish to remain”, the statement added, “at the very heart of the Church, committed to putting into place the reforms of the Second Vatican Council”. Ah, yes, to be sure, the Second Vatican Council. Does that, I wonder, include Lumen Gentium? Does Fr Flannery remain “committed”, do you suppose, to the following?


The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff. For our Lord placed Simon alone as the rock and the bearer of the keys of the Church, and made him shepherd of the whole flock….(Lumen Gentium § 22)


The Daily Mail yesterday had an interesting blog piece, by the writer Mark Dooley, under the headline “Why the Pope is right to gag Fr Trendy”. Two years ago, Dooley appeared on a television programme entitled “Faith in Crisis”. He was joined on the panel by Fr Flannery, whom he hadn’t met before he appeared on the programme. Indeed, it was only when Fr Flannery accused Mr Dooley of suggesting that he didn’t celebrate the Mass properly, that he realised he was a Catholic priest at all, since “he neither spoke nor dressed as someone who wished to be identified as a member of the clergy”.

“Like most of the other participants on that programme”, Mark Dooley continues “Fr Flannery chanted from a radical hymn book. His message was one of dissent from Rome on issues ranging from clerical celibacy to women priests. As he spoke, I remember being surprised that the Vatican permitted such flagrant opposition to Church doctrine by one of its priests.

“I was, therefore, amused to hear that the ACP was ‘disturbed’ by Fr Flannery’s so-called ‘silencing’. ‘This intervention’, they say, ‘is unfair, unwarranted and unwise’ because, contrary to the claims of ‘some reactionary fringe groups’, the ACP is not ‘a small coterie of radical priests with a radical agenda’. Rather, it is ‘committed to putting into place the reforms of the Second Vatican Council’.”

This insistence that only the ACP and those who think like it authentically reflect the teachings of the Second Vatican Council really needs nailing, once and for all. They really do have a nerve, these people, going on and on about Vatican II in order to justify their defiance of the Magisterium of the Church. Do they think the rest of us know nothing ABOUT the Council? As Mark Dooley rightly went on to insist:

Studying the documents of Vatican II, I can see no evidence that the Council Fathers sought the ordination of women or the repudiation of priestly celibacy. When they spoke about ‘reform’ of the Church, they were not suggesting putting up for grabs the fundamentals of Catholic theology. Their objective was not, as the then Cardinal Ratzinger said in 1985, ‘to change the faith, but to represent it in a more effective way’.

It seems to me that the principal objective of groups like the ACP is to ‘change the faith’. As Pope Benedict recently said of the ACP’s Austrian counterpart, they have ‘issued a summons to disobedience’ – even to the point ‘of disregarding definitive decisions of the Church’s Magisterium’ or teaching authority. In so doing, they are not only dissenting from the traditions of the Church, but from their priestly vows.’

No organisation can tolerate that level of dissent. This is especially so in the case of an institution whose origins are considered divine. For if you believe that the Church is the repository of timeless truth, and that those elected Pope are successors of St Peter, you will surely realise that changing the faith amounts to heresy. If, however, you don’t believe such things, why remain a member of the Catholic Church? (My emphasis).


I really couldn’t put it better myself: so I won’t even try.

  • JabbaPapa

    There are degrees of infallibility, but that’s some even more arcane hair-splittery — I generally agree with this comment of yours.

  • Vickynestor

    I think this most be the most patronising and insulting comment I’ve seen in a long time. It must be marvellous to be so superior JBryne24

  • Benedict Carter

    Fair enough!

  • R J McC

    I thought everything he posts here reads like the pontifications of a self-satisfied prig, Jabba, But that’s just me, I guess…

  • Oconnord

    You’re a lot braver than me! One experience, New Year’s Eve 1989. First and last time trying the stuff.

    If I dipped engine parts in it to remove grease, 
    I’d bet they’d come out corroded.

    I got moded for that comment even though you replied to it! As always the powers that be are difficult to understand:)

    Or was it coz i said Scotsman to you?

  • Oconnord

    Here’s another term to work out….
    What about a serial monogamist?

  • Oconnord

    Please stop shouting. The all caps is considered the height of rudeness. It is like sticking your face into someone else’s and shouting.

    We’re all impolite at times but that is simply close to vulgarity.  

  • What Word

    You need to act how you are vowed to act currently though. It’s hard with always seeing tempting pictures in streets, malls, and TVs. I understand.  But you vowed.

  • teigitur

    What about such a person? Nothing to work out. Pretty clear I would have thought…………………..

  • teigitur

    I don t know. I did nt see a reason for the action. What you said was true, though could apply to other parts of these islands too!!!!!!

  • Tricia Kane

    Are none of these posters women? The level of personal attacks is frightening – and not very Christian. More than half the Catholic church is made up of women, and there is no theological basis against their ordination. The discussion needs to be held, with light, not heat. Many Catholics in Australia and New Zealand are very unhappy with the autocratic direction the Vatican/Curia has been taking, especially in the imposition of a latinate language for our liturgy, rather than the 1998 translation, which was thrown out unceremoniously by the authorities. I believe the Holy Spirit will prevail in the end, but where is another Catherine of Siena when we need her? 

  • Oconnord

    I’ve always found that one amusing… True to the person you are with now, but still on the look out for the next person to be true to!

  • Benedict Carter

    Hahaha! Here we go, another “Spirit of Vatican II”-er, the usual liberal mishmash dissident type, just refusing to accept that the Holy See has made an infallible (= will never, ever be changed) ruling on wymmin “priests”; and she even has a go at the “Latinate” language of the present Missal of the Latin Church!

    These people are not Catholic by any stretch of the imagination. Why don’t you go and join the Episcopalians or another protestant group? After all, you already are one.

  • JabbaPapa

    Are none of these posters women?

    Are you suggesting that Catholicism should be defined by the question of what sex you happen to be ?

    The level of personal attacks is frightening – and not very Christian.

    Doesn’t this simply add another attack ?

    More than half the Catholic church is made up of women, and there is no theological basis against their ordination.

    There is a 2000 year long theological history of the ordination of women not being Church doctrine, and it has been formally forbidden since 494, over 1500 years.

    The theological basis of this is not that women should be viewed as “inferior” or any other irrelevant non-Catholic modern interpretations, but that the vocation towards motherhood, which is viewed as being theologically inherent to the Catholic conception of womanhood, is incompatible with the vocation towards the priesthood.

    Furthermore, the teaching that women may not be ordained as priests has recently be clarified as being a permanent and infallible doctrine of the Church. To claim anything else is to teach heterodoxy.

    The discussion needs to be held, with light, not heat.

    It already has been.

    Many Catholics in Australia and New Zealand are very unhappy with the
    autocratic direction the Vatican/Curia has been taking, especially in
    the imposition of a latinate language for our liturgy, rather than the
    1998 translation, which was thrown out unceremoniously by the

    This is a very inaccurate representation.

    There is nothing at all “autocratic” about the ordinary functioning of the Magisterium, and certainly not since Vatican II !!! The Magisterium is in fact in a state of constant dialogue and reciprocation with the three States of the Church, Clergy, Religious, and Laity. All decisions and definitions provided by the Magisterium are informed at a very deep and meaningful level by the existence of this dialogue. Just as they are also informed by the 2000 year old Tradition of the Church, by the continuing work of theology and the dynamic relationship between Revelation and History, and by the changing needs of the Church relative to the Canons of her Law.

    A quick review of the 1998 proposal shows that it is replete with dubious translations, theological errors, and Nu-Anglican protestantisms. The elevation of the Virgin Mary up to an identical level of reverence as the Holy Spirit in that text is probably even blasphemous.

    That the text provides no Latin variants at all in the texts for the liturgies is also directly contrary to the express provisions of the Latin Rite (all Forms).

    The 1998 translation looks as if it actually compounds the clear anglicanicising excesses of the earlier one, and it reads like a fairly blatant attempt to divorce the English-speaking Church even further away from the Church as a whole than it already has been.

    Being thrown out unceremoniously appears to be exactly what it deserves.

  • teigitur

    Indeed, one of the many modern diseases.

  • Honeybadger


    Ever thought about a career in comedy?

    Ah, Lee Evans is shaking in his boots! Not.

  • Honeybadger

    What are you like?

  • Honeybadger

    I agree. Shame on the eejit!

  • Honeybadger

    Are you calling us thick?

    Like Jabbapapa described you: SUPERCILIOUS is apt!

  • Honeybadger


  • Honeybadger

    And Ampere!

  • Honeybadger

    Did you know that one of the popes (I’ll look up whom) tasted coffee and thought it was so delicious… he blessed it!

    Therefore, teigitur, keep telling those liberal blue cagoules to smell the coffee!

    We know already that the Roman Catholic Church has remained awake by enjoying the smells and bells as well as inhaling the gorgeous smell of fresh brewed  COFFEE!!!!

  • Honeybadger

    Humanite Vitae has been, and continues to be, spot on… and the world continues to go la-la-la-la…

  • teigitur

    I did not know that but its good to know. Oh indeed I shall continue the good fight!

  • Benedict Carter

    Looks like the SSPX is in!

    Goodbye assorted Vatican II die-hards, liberals, dissenters, heretics, apostates, schismatics, neo-Protestants, you Modernist destroyers of the Lord’s Vineyard!

    The Day of the Hippy is definitely numbered!!!!

  • jon mcallion

    Well said William!  It is sad that a priest thinks that he knows better. Mark Dooley sums the predictiment with which the likes of Tony Flannery now find themselves in: either get rid of their self intoxicating pride or leave the Church. But what it should be emphasised that the present Holy Father, is a man of great warmth and forgiveness and that should make Frs Flannery, Fagan etc see sense and wise up from their present course which is leading only to self ruin.

  • jon mcallion

    Well, what more needs to be said but Amen brother!  Throughout this “problem” the adjective holy is missing.  To be saints, as we are all called to be, Yes even the ACP, then we look to Peter, since he is looking to Christ. Remember, what the Devil said to the Cure d Ars: ” If there were but two more like you, my kingdom would fall away today!!!” lets do it today and pray for the likes of you that this reality will come sooner, than later.

  • Patrick_Hadley

     Why do you compare schismatic sects with the Catholic Church? Why should the Catholic Church suffer the same fate as Anglicans and Episcopalians who do not have valid priests and bishops and whose eucharistic liturgy is just a sham? Do you really think that nourished by Christ’s body the Catholic Church would decline in the same way that those bogus groups did?

    If our Bishops had not been intent on driving away people who saw the flaws in their arguments about contraception or the role of women in the Church and could not in conscience obey them, we would, thanks to the grace we receive at Mass, be stronger than ever.

  • Aussie Seminarian

     Thank you jon for your kind words. May God be with you and yours.

  • jakinta

    very much in favour of knowing who these ACP are as I want no part of it, my faith has been established from my birth and I consider it a privilage to be born into my catholic faith and church if I wished to be different I would look elsewhere. So as I’v no desire to do that I want my religion to be as it always was and I will continue to struggle to live up to her ideals, not always successfully I might add.

  • Bunts_rn

    “….How far we’ve moved from Jesus and the biblical foundations of the church, it seems.”
    From a donkey to a Pope-mobile; from a staff and sandals and a borrowed tomb to immense splendour.

    Many years ago, a Roman Catholic priest friend confided that “Rome” should acknowledge the debt of gratitude owed to Martin Luther and the Church of England; that the Holy Spirit will keep on nagging until the “powers that be” actually pay attention; and (long before there was an apparent shortage of ordinands) he thought that women priests would be accepted before there was a recission of the ban on married clergy. Since then, I know two priests who relinquished the priesthood to marry. They were very effective in their vocation and much admired in the wider community.

    As to the much vaunted apostolic succession, I would say just this: “Borgia and Medici”. 

  • Augustine Hourigan C.P.

     JByrne24 says..”these more primitive peoples”  How many of them do you know personally?  What is a “primitive person” we need to know your answer!  Otherwise we will not mnow what  A MORE PRIMITIVE PERSON is.

  • Maria

    I am praying for you … You have a very good bishop … I like Cardinal Pell …  Thank you so much for your love for our Blessed Lord …

  • Maria

    Great comments … Vatican II is pastoral …

  • Maria

    I was not even a year old when Humanae Vitae came out but I am teaching it to my nieces and nephews in conjunction with Evangelium Vitae.  I always start with Gen 1:26.  Then it flow all …

    Your last paragraph argument … if we had it, we will be protestants …

    Dear Patrick Hardley … I read a consistent line of thought in most of your comments … are you even a Catholic? …

  • Maria

    I agree …  I was not even a year old then but being pro-life, Humanae Vitae for me is amazingly prophetic … spot on … but it is even beautiful if you combine it with Evangelium Vitae.

  • M. Faustus

    Two cheers Bob,

    Whilst disagreeing with your analysis of the motives and rationale of the ACP profoundly, I think we can rely on the fact that they will be silenced by the Church. That is what the Catholic Church has always been best at.

  • Gareth

    Yep, you’re a protestant.

  • Maryhart

    Are you for real ? More little power mongering Hitlerettes. That’s all we need.

  • Bob Hayes

    Not much Christian charity in that post, eh Mary?

  • Fergus

    And how do you know we are Christians? See how we love one another.
    And have we now taken to tearing ourselves apart?

  • No name Jane

    Vatican II said this in it’s Constitution Dei Verbum:
    “Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.”

    Vatican II showed that traditions should be kept with loyalty. Not thrown away.

  • Raphael

    You people here are all talk. All words and nothing else. Clashing cymbals. Hypocrites. The only thing you attempt to defend – your shallow faithless egos. Shame on you. IF you had a shred of real Catholic spirituality, you’d be praying and doing penance for the conversion of all – you most of all. Bloody disgrace. 

  • Raphael

    Honesty might bring fidelity. To Christ preferably. 

  • Perseus

    And your boyfriend said the same of you whilst sipping Mimosas in ‘The Yard’, Soho. 

    “He never devalves. Endless, mindless waffle and tripe. I wish I had a switch to close him down.”  

    You really need to work on charity, Benny. Learn to love someone more than your self. That’s your answer. 

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