‘Vigilante’ Catholics’ letter led to Flannery’s ban, says priest

‘Vigilante’ Catholics’ letter led to Flannery’s ban, says priest

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Talk by Fr Tony Flannery cancelled after complaint over his vote in marriage referendum

A covering letter with the letter of complaint complained about the “dissident priest” [Fr Tony Flannery, pictured] being let loose on Killeagh-Inch parish, according to Fr Timothy Hazelwood. File photograph: Alan Betson /The Irish Times A covering letter with the letter of complaint complained about the “dissident priest” [Fr Tony Flannery, pictured] being let loose on Killeagh-Inch parish, according to Fr Timothy Hazelwood. File photograph: Alan Betson /The Irish Times

 

The chain of events that led to the banning of Fr Tony Flannery from speaking at an event in the Cloyne diocese last September began when a self-appointed vigilante group of conservative Catholics complained to the bishop, a local parish priest has said.

He has also accused two journalists who wrote about the matter of being very Catholic but not very Christian.

The talk to be given by Fr Flannery at Killeagh-Inch parish was cancelled by order of Bishop of Cloyne William Crean. The invitation to Fr Flannery was issued by the parish pastoral council of Killeagh-Inch in east Cork and he had agreed to give the opening address at its Spiritfest 2015 over the last weekend in September.

In 2012, Fr Flannery was suspended from public ministry by the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for his more liberal views on women priests, homosexuality and contraception.

When he became aware of the invitation to Fr Flannery, Bishop Crean made personal representations to parish priest of Killeagh-Inch, Fr Timothy Hazelwood.

Fr Hazelwood pointed out that the invitation had come from the parish pastoral council and they would have to be consulted. Bishop Crean met with the council, after which the invitation to Fr Flannery was withdrawn.

In a recent homily Fr Hazelwood told parishioners that “the first indication that there might be a problem was when I met with the Bishop with regard to a letter of complaint about me from a group of ‘concerned Catholics’, a self-appointed vigilante group who oversee orthodoxy in the south of Ireland.

“They were complaining because I said I was voting ‘yes’ in the recent [marriage-equality] referendum. A covering letter with the letter of complaint complained about the ‘dissident priest’ Fr Tony Flannery being let loose on Killeagh-Inch parish.”

The decision to withdraw the invitation to Fr Flannery was because “we felt that the possible ramifications of a standoff with the Bishop would not be in anyone’s best interest,” Fr Hazelwood said.

Media reaction

He continued “the reaction has been interesting. In particular I want to mention two articles in the print media, firstly by Mr David Quinn in the Irish Catholic and the second by Margaret Hickey in the Irish Examiner. Both were ‘very Catholic’ in what they wrote but not very Christian in my opinion.”

Neither had contacted him or any member of the pastoral council.

“Surely when putting forward a strong view as they did, the first step is to gain the facts. I would call it lazy journalism and putting forward one’s own personal agenda, something the Catholic Church often criticises the secular media for and here they are doing exactly the same,” he said.

Patsy McGarry; Irish Times; 2 November 2015

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Bishop of Cloyne William Crean