….. Mr Kenny held a 23-minute meeting with the pope in the Vatican.
….. The meeting was requested following the invitation to the pope by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to visit Ireland for their church’s World Meeting of Families in two years.
The Taoiseach would not confirm or deny that he had raised the issue of Irish priests who had been silenced to varying degrees by the Vatican over their published views on issues such as the ordination of women and priestly celibacy.
A reliable clerical source told RTÉ News that Mr. Kenny was to raise the cases of six Irish priests who have been silenced by the Catholic Church. The source said the Taoiseach spoke to at least one of the priests concerned before departing for Rome.
When pressed after his meeting with Pope Francis, Mr. Kenny said he had “a number of issues which would in my view help greatly his visit when he comes in 2018.
“That’s an area which I think he appreciates.”
Under the pontificates of St Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the writings of the priests were ordered to be censored by local church authorities.
The decision was made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
One of them, world-renowned theologian Fr. Seán Fagan, died last July.
Another, Fr. Tony Flannery, has been removed from ministry because he refused to recant in writing his statements disagreeing with the church’s absolute ban on ordaining women priests, with its ban on artificial contraception and with its teaching on homosexuality.
The other four must submit anything they propose to publish to church censors.
They are: journalist and broadcaster Fr. Brian D’Arcy, theologian Fr. Owen O’Sullivan, former editor of Reality magazine Fr. Gerry Moloney and church historian Fr. Iggy O’Donovan.
In the past, Fr. Flannery has said that the crux of the matter is the secretive manner in which the CDF investigates a priest’s utterances and writings without allowing him to know the charges against him, so that he can prepare a defence before an edict is handed down from the Vatican.
Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, Fr. O’Donovan said he does not expect that following such a brief meeting with the Taoiseach that the priests’ treatment was discussed in any great detail.
He said that in his view “asking the pope himself like that would be next to useless” as these matters “are handled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and I don’t know to what extent the pope is in charge of that, but you get the feeling that they’re biding their time”.
He said: “We don’t know their names or who takes the action against us, or who imposes the sanctions; that’s all done in secret,” adding “it’s not the pope himself directly” and he said he does not think “there wouldn’t be any bearing in anything the Taoiseach might bring up with the pope”.
Fr Tony Flannery Fr Gerry Moloney
Fr Brian D'Arcy Fr Owen O'Sullivan
Fr Iggy O'Donovan Fr Sean Fagan RIP