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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.

  • JByrne24

    The RM writes: [The Church is currently experiencing great growth in the third, and rapidly developing, world]
    “Maybe this is because people there are more open to the radical message of the gospels and their tastes have not become jaded because of a soul-destroying liberal secularism….”

    But maybe it is because people, on average, are less well educated in these countries. They are also much more likely to be superstitious and to believe in magic, demons, ghosts…etc. .

  • licjjs

    I see the following included among the ‘objectives’ on the Association of Catholic Priests website: ‘Full acceptance that the Spirit speaks through all people…….’ except, it seems, the Pope and millions of their fellow Catholics.

  • licjjs

    What strikes me about the ACP is that it seems so blooming old-fashioned!

  • theroadmaster

    Jesus implied that the innate wisdom of little kids was often more profound than the knowledge of highly educated philosophers when he stated ..” Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven..”(Matthew,18:3-4).  So one of the chief explanations for the exponential growth of Catholicism in continents outside the now tired, but once thriving heartlands of Europe, can be put down to people in other countries, becoming more alive in their hearts and minds, to the prospects of a reality beyond this life.

     Education or lack of it is no barrier to the reception of religious belief.  One has to only to  examine the long list of famous scientists who retained their belief in a Creator God to disprove this fallacy.  The said scientists include- Robert Boyle(1627-1691), the father of Chemistry, George Boole(1851-1864), the inventor of Boolean algebra or Werner Heisenberg(1901-1976), one of the founding fathers of quantum physics.

  • JabbaPapa

    But maybe it is because people, on average, are less well educated in these countries.

    This sort of supercilious snobbery is not worth its weight in pixels.

    Nearly everything you post in here sounds like the opinion of an atheist, you know …

  • JabbaPapa

    Oh …. you just carry on publicly denying infallible doctrines of the Church with your every post then, JB …

  • Benedict Carter

    “What, therefore, gives these earlier teachings priority over the Vatican II ones?  Why should not the Vatican II ones have priority?”

    Truly good questions – really, that’s the heart of it. 

    First thing to say is that I don’t “reject Vatican II” per se. Like millions of other Catholics, I await the clarification of how certain teachings (my post above) can be reconciled with what went before, because the Vatican II teachings ask us to accept the OPPOSITE (!) of what the Magisterium taught until then. We are asked to accept that there is a “hermeneutic of continuity”, but it is no longer enough to simply SAY it – we have to be shown HOW.

    Many people have tried thus far and haven’t been able to square the before and after circles. 

    The answer to your question is that the earlier teaching includes documents where infallible matter has been taught whereas Vatican II explicitly was not dogmatic in any way. It wasn’t even doctrinal. Therefore the earlier teaching ipso facto is of a greater or deeper sort and must be preferred in the case of doubt.

    Secondly, even where the Magisterium has not made an infallible statement, when the Ordinary Magisterium over a period of time and from multiple Popes poses a constant teaching, that teaching may well be seen as infallible. 

    Thirdly, we are enjoined by Scripture to fast to Tradition (what has been handed down) and resist new teaching with all our might. 

    I personally await the Encyclicals which tell me how to see the continuity of Tradition in the Vatican II teachings cited above. 

    I won’t get them because you cannot join together opposite meanings. 

  • Oconnord

    You didn’t resist that temptation for long. You even turned it to a manure joke. Not bad!

    But you mix up disbelieve with misunderstanding. The “You don’t get it” argument is silly at this stage. That’s a subject for another post. 

    You have admitted on other comments that the church changes, albeit, at a slow pace, so perhaps they are the catalysts that are needed. Unless you questioned their motivations, as this article did, so they may be a “force for good”. My point by linking to the survey was that at least the ACP are aware of why there is a lack of respect for anything Vatican related.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=682186715 Savia D’cunha

    Eastern rite Catholics have the same theological views on thing like filioque, original sin, purgatory, etc as the Orthodox.

    This is considered acceptable by Rome, because the approach to theology in the West was always based on legal theory and logic. In the East it was based on more mystical interpretations. They are complimentary and not in opposition.

    It is going to take time for the Orthodox to realize this is part of the fullness of faith.

    The only reason the Eastern Catholics have is because they are in union with the see of Peter.

  • Isaac

    And these less well educated people, being superstitious, also believe that sex is not only about pleasure, that material prosperity is not the purpose of life, that killing one’s unborn children is a barbaric act, that getting drunk senseless on a Friday night (while being half-naked) is not relaxation — yes, I can see why the church is growing in the third world.

  • JabbaPapa

    It poses a simple question. Which is more important? 
    Unquestioning obedience to Rome or expressing the wants and needs of the actual catholics who you serve in your parish.

    Such a question is pretty manipulative.

    1) Unquestioning obedience to Rome is not a requirement of Catholicism.

    Obedience in certain specific requirements certainly, but “unquestioning” ?? Certainly not !! This is some anti-Catholic propaganda originally devised by Protestants. As such, your question is inherently flawed.

    2) “expressing the wants and needs of the actual catholics who you serve in your parish”

    Well — heeeeeeey — is there some sort of notion that priests are not required to do this in the first place ? — No, there isn’t …

    The notion that this could somehow be “opposed” to obedience and discipline, and that there’s a choice between either the one or the other, is also quite obviously flawed.

    So really, if that’s the question being asked ? Well it’s a bit of a rubbish question, isn’t it …

  • teigitur

    Oh wel,l you know, get the cheap shots in whenever you can. Though I did resist “manure”, in favour of” plant grower” . I m so  righteous…lol.
     As for the “not getting it”. well that was totally from my perspective, because, I do not see how you can. I totally do not get Atheists. I certainly do not expect them to get faith, never mind a institution like Holy Mother Church. But as you point out-ish. Maybe thats just my shortcomings.
     Look forward to your reply when the poitin wears off………….lol
     On the ACP. I could not improve on  “Bob Hayes” above.

  • teigitur

    God I hate this system……anyway I was referring to “bob hayes” in his very first comment. Spot on.

  • Aussie Seminarian

    So sad and so typical of those groups who continue to subvert the authority and teaching of the Magesterium. They are becoming increasingly desperate because they know their time is drawing to an end. At my Seminary a new generation is rising up; faithful to the teaching, obedient to the Holy Father and striving for holiness of life to care enough for the people to ensure that they teach (and live) the truth in love. Please pray for us as we enter into the Church as Priests at a critical time in her history.  

  • teigitur

    You can be sure of our prayers.

  • Oconnord

    I’d advise you to stop drinking poitin, it’s lethal stuff. Not to mention the reputation the Scots have for drinking!

  • JByrne24

    The people whose names you quote were largely, in addition to being scientists, people of their time.
    But it’s true there have been a sprinkling of (very few) others in modern times. 

    Of course the Gospels also tell us that when we become grown-up we “put away childish things”.

  • JByrne24

    Oh yes. These more primitive peoples do not have the consumer trash society to endure – and they are doubtless better off for that.
    But they are much more superstitious and prone to believe in silly things.

  • JByrne24

    I don’t believe it’s snobbish to simply say what is very true. These primitive people are often very superstitious and believe many absurd things.

    I cannot be held responsible for opinions that you might form about my postings.

  • JByrne24

    Don’t be silly Jabba.

  • theroadmaster

    The scientists that I have listed, were both people of and in some senses ahead of their time, who saw no contradiction between Faith and Science and this is something that atheists have to contend with.
    As for your quotation that we “put away childish things”,  this is more to do with petulance and immaturity, which is often displayed by those who try to demean Faith, and is in complete contrast to an adult, who looks at Faith through the open-minded heart and mind of a child.

  • JByrne24

    The wording was indeed this (or very similar): “…described this teaching AS NEEDING  TO BE CONSIDERED AS infallibly true…”

    Instead of “is infallibly true”.

    Sir Humphrey must have “ate his heart out”, I imagine.

    Yes, these people are true masters of their art.

  • John-of-Hayling

    Oh William…………”let’s set up a national catholic church that is not subject to those awful people in the Vatican”……… I think that we’ve been here already on this side of the Irish Sea – it’s called the Church of England.  Who’s going to take Queen Elizabeth’s role in this proposed Irish set-up?
    Really you couldn’t make it up – it makes the Channel 4 show ‘Fr Ted’ look like a fly-on-the-wall documentary.

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    ALL PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS CRAVING FOR MARRIAGE NEED TO BE SETTLED ONCE AND

    FOR ALL: GIVE THEM A GOOD AMOUNT OF MONEY AND  FREE OR DISMISS THEM FROM THE

    VOWS AND PROMISES AND THEIR RESPECTIVE MINISTRIES.

    IF OUR POPE COULD DO SUCH A THING, IT WOULD HELP THE CHURCH TO BE PURER. THERE

    WOULD  BE LESS OF PEOPLE RIDING ON TWO BOATS AT THE SAME TIME. THERE WOULD

    BE  LESS OF PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED JESUS WITHOUT COUNTING THE COST. THERE

    WOULD BE LESS OF  PEOPLE  WHO ARE LIVING SCANDALS.

    REPEATING THE SAME ONCE IN  FEW YEARS  IS DESIRABLE TOGETHER WITH BETTER

    SCREENING OF CANDIDATES. EMPOWER THE PEOPLE OF GOD TO BE ON THE WATCH FOR

    ROTTEN APPLES.

    Fr.Thomas Poovathinkal

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    ALL PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS CRAVING FOR MARRIAGE NEED TO BE SETTLED ONCE AND

    FOR ALL: GIVE THEM A GOOD AMOUNT OF MONEY AND  FREE OR DISMISS THEM FROM
    THE

    VOWS AND PROMISES AND THEIR RESPECTIVE MINISTRIES.

    IF OUR POPE COULD DO SUCH A THING, IT WOULD HELP THE CHURCH TO BE PURER. THERE

    WOULD  BE LESS OF PEOPLE RIDING ON TWO BOATS AT THE SAME TIME. THERE WOULD

    BE  LESS OF PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED JESUS WITHOUT COUNTING THE COST. THERE

    WOULD BE LESS OF  PEOPLE  WHO ARE LIVING SCANDALS.

    REPEATING THE SAME ONCE IN  FEW YEARS  IS DESIRABLE TOGETHER WITH
    BETTER

    SCREENING OF CANDIDATES. EMPOWER THE PEOPLE OF GOD TO BE ON THE WATCH FOR

    ROTTEN APPLES.

    Fr.Thomas Poovathinkal

  • srdc

    Forget about the authority issue.  If you study sacramental theology and really understand what the sacraments stand for. Everything else starts to make sense.

    There’s just this unwillingness to listen on both sides.

  • Simple faith

    You certainly have my prayers. I (and many others) are pinning our hopes for the continuation of a true Catholic Church on your shoulders (not too much pressure there then).

  • gene

    but you liked the right wing regimes.  right?

  • Bridget

    So is your lack of Christian tolerance!

  • teigitur

    Well from time to time I acquire a bottle from the hills of Monaghan. Strictly for the making of a decent punch you understand. Saves the vodka. I m sure you are aware of the picture, there in the Wicklow hills! ;)

  • Benedict Carter

    Father, please switch off your “Caps Lock” button. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Oooo, that’s me told, isn’t it?! Another hippy.

    Except that “tolerance” isn’t a Christian virtue, dear …… .

  • Honeybadger

    You are assured of my prayers!

  • JByrne24

    I have often heard the statement that science and religion provide quite separate ways of looking at the world (enjoying non-overlapping magisteria), and indeed “look” or “deal with” quite different “worlds”, viz. that of space & time (science) and that of the supernatural (religion).  

    If you accept this view, what is the point of trying to associate a brilliance in science with an acceptance of religion?

    Of course atheists do not accept this view of different worlds and different magisteria.

    But, of course, my whole point in making my original posting, in reply to your comment, was simply to point out that the growth of the Church in backward nations is really not all that much to shout about – welcome as it is.

    On the time scales in which the Church deals, it is likely to be a very transient phenomenon.

  • JByrne24

    Cheer up Nick. It’s not all as bad.

  • JByrne24

    I have, I believe, given up none of the faith. This is my belief.

    I am most reluctant to presume to evaluate the faith of another – but some of what I have posted elsewhere hints at where (generally) I believe the problems lie.

  • JByrne24

    If you think a little bit about the possible synonyms for tolerance, you might learn differently.

  • JByrne24

    “….How far we’ve moved from Jesus and the biblical foundations of the church, it seems.”

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    AS ALREADY COMMUNICATED ONCE ON THIS FORUM : PERSONAL REASONS.

  • theroadmaster

    Surely the lack of faith is more pronounced in parts of the world that have been dominated by humanist secularism and materialist scientism.   The parts of the world which are experiencing the greatest growth in the monotheistic religions e.g. Africa, are those areas which are not as cynical about Faith as is evident in citizens residing in those countires commonly called “the West”.
    It is telling that missionary priests are being called from African or Asian countries to plug gaps in countries that are experiencing lack of vocations such as European countries.  Unfortunately for countries in western europe, their reliance on man-made solutions to socio-political problems has come up short, when one analyzes the crises that have ensued from the collapse of trust in the capitalist system.  The communist system was vanquished by a combination of spiritual intervention i.e the influence of the late Blessed pope John Paul 11 and people power in eastern europe.  I think that it is time that people in europe rediscovered their common spiritual inheritance that Christianity in general and  Catholicism in particular has contributed to.

  • Benedict Carter

    Tolerance to you means the tolerance of error or of outright evil.

    That’s not my definition nor is it a Catholic definition.

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    “………the opacity of institutional arrangements unfortunately
    provided cover for the wickedness of abuse perpetrated by some clergy and
    religious.”

    YOU MUST BE REFERRING TO CHILD ABUSE… BUT THEN WHAT ABOUT ABUSE OF

    WOMEN? IT NEVER TOOK PLACE? OR WAS IT AN IMPLICIT PRIVILEGE GRANTED BY

    ALL CONCERNED TO THOSE WHO PRACTISED PRIEST-CRAFT IN RETURN FOR THE

    SERVICE THESE RENDERED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES CONNECTED

    WITH THE RITUALS OF THE DEAD?

    HERE COMES IN CONTEXT WHAT JESUS TOLD THE YOUNG MAN WHO WANTED TO

    BURY HIS FATHER BEFORE HE TOOK STEPS TO FOLLOW THE LORD, “LET THE DEAD

    BURY THEIR OWN DEAD.”

     

  • Benedict Carter

    I work in Africa. You haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about. 

  • Benedict Carter

    You say, “I have, I believe, given up none of the faith. This is my belief.” but in the post made above that comment you write, “It is quite probable now that within 2 or 3 generations or so the Church will all but have disappeared”.

    Any neutral reader would take that as zero faith.

  • aearon43

    The Chinese are primitive?

  • teigitur

    You are not wrong there.

  • Aussie Seminarian

     Yeah no pressure at all, just as well its Christ working through me otherwise we would  all be sunk. Thanks for your support

  • Aussie Seminarian

     thank you very much

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

     

    JESUS FLED FROM THE POWER OF KINGSHIP WHEN A CROWD WAS AFTER
    HIM TO BE THEIR KING.

    KINGDOM AND SUPER-KINGDOM STATUS OF BIG CHRISTIAN CHURCHES MILITATE
    AGAINST THE SPIRIT AND EXAMPLE OF CHRIST THE LORD. THESE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT OF ORGANISEDCHRISTIANITY! WHAT IS BEHIND IT? THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST OR THE
    SPIRIT OF “CLEVER AND THE LEARNED” MORTALS?

    AS FOR THOSE AMONG THE PRIESTS, WHO ARE NOT CENTRED ON JESUS’ SPIRIT, EXAMPLE AND GOAL,  AND  WHO
     DO NOT KEEP HIS WORD  HAVE A
    DIFFERENT WAY OF GOING ABOUT.  THESE HIDE MANY THINGS UNDER THE APPEARANCES THEY PUT UP.

    THESE CAN ONLY DOLE OUT  DOGMAS  AND  RITUALS
    AND ACT THEM OUT IN DRAMAS AND PROJECT IT AS TRUE LIFE. THEIR WORD HAS NO POWER; NO AUTHORITY OR CREDIBILITY. THEY CANNOT PRESENT THE KINGDOM OF GOD
    WHICH JESUS BROUGHT WITH CREDIBLE SIGNS ALL BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT
    FOLLOWED JESUS AND THEY DO NOT BELONG TO HIM IN PRACTICE.

     

    SUCH PRIESTS HAVE OVER THE CENTURIES REDUCED THE PEOPLE OF
    GOD INTO LAY PEOPLE SO THAT THEY COULD  HANDLE
    THEM EASILY.

     

    THESE PRIESTS  FEED
    THE PEOPLE ONLY WITH THE BREAD OF JESUS BODY AND NOT ALSO WITH THE BREAD OF HIS WORD.  REMEMBER WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT LIVING BY “EVERY WORD THAT COMES FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD”!  IN THIS PROCESS THE BREAD OF JESUS’ BODY LOSES
    IT’S WORTH AND

    POWER: MERE EATING OF “DAMINATION” ……..A DEAD RITUAL !

     

     

    UNLESS WE REVERT TO THE WAY JESUS MADE HIS PRIESTS  (REMEMBER THEY WERE NOT MERE PRIESTS, THEY WERE ALSO APOSTLES! ) WE SHALL MOVE IN ETERNAL
    VICIOUS CIRCLES AND LIVE BY THE SPIRIT  OF  ORGANISED  CHRISTIANITY. AND THE RESULT?  DID NOT JESUS 
    GIV E US THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE, “BY THEIR FRUITS YOU SHALL KNOW THEM?”

     

     

  • Benedict Carter

    More than those of the left? Of course – I am a Catholic.