I am angered to read of the suffering being meted out to Fr. Tony Flannery ( Rite and Reason 10th September ) after his lifetime of service by an unjust inquisition system in Rome. As a practising Catholic, I wish to make some noise and protest strongly against the silencing of priests such as Tony Flannery and women religious in the United States.
As Catholics, we are deeply ashamed of the worldwide coverup of child abuse by obedient bishops and clerics absolutely loyal to the Roman line. Some years ago, Bishop Moriarty regretted that he had been unable to question the Roman line on concealment of child abuse and protection of the Church institution at all costs. However, when women religious, priests and theologians raise the questions that are bothering a majority of Catholics they are abused in this awful manner as outlined by Fr. Flannery in his book “ A Question of Conscience “. Is it any wonder that parents and priests have not been encouraging young men into a patriarchal caste which demands absolute obedience as well as a cruel regime of mandatory celibacy.
I was ordained in 1970,am now married and active within my local parish community. Like Fr. Flannery and all Catholics, I deeply value the fundamental good news of our Christian faith. However, like many Catholics I have serious questions about aspects of Catholic governance and elements of male, clerical thinking in regard to issues such as discrimination against women, birth control and homosexuality. While I am quite prepared to work hard at local parish level to build up a community of faith and action for justice, I do not wish to collude in the ongoing abuses of power and persons in our Catholic Church. I think Fr. Flannery and a large number of Catholics are also struggling with this dilemma. I know that large numbers of Catholics have walked away from clerical nonsense and Roman intransigence over the past 50 years. Many lay Catholics, unlike Fr. Flannery, avail of their freedom to operate at a remove from the clerical system and assent only to minimum involvement. However, I encourage all practising Catholics to heed the advice of Pope Francis in Rio De Janeiro in July speaking to young people, namely, “to go out and make lots of noise” !!! I encourage all practising Catholics to protest all silencing, abuse, discrimination and exclusion via strong letters to their bishop and the Papal Nuncio.
Pope Francis has thrown some nice shapes during the honeymoon.! I hope and pray with Fr. Flannery and a majority of Catholics that he will be inspired soon to reform the corrupt office of the inquisition and reverse the abuse being done to women, religious and all silenced priests and theologians. Hopefully, he will soon call Vatican 3 and proceed via open, honest dialogue in all local churches to substantial reform and renewal within the Catholic Church and, ultimately, reunion of the Christian family.