Pope intervenes removing Marist priest’s further sanctions

The Vatican has removed further sanctions it could have imposed on Irish Marist priest, Fr Sean Fagan, who was silenced in 2008.

Society of Mary Superior General Fr John Hannan told CathNews that he is pleased the threat of further sanctions, stipulated in 2010, have been removed and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will no longer adjudicate on them.

Fr Fagan, 86, a moral theologian, was silenced by the Vatican in 2008 following the publication of his book “Whatever happened to sin?”

The Vatican advised him if any word of their actions against him reached the media he would be stripped of his priesthood.

The Irish Times reports that Pope Francis is believed to have intervened directly with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Fr Fagan’s behalf.

Former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese is also thought to be directly involved.

The Irish Times learned that Mrs McAleese wrote to Pope Francis last December requesting he intervene. Receipt of the letter was acknowledged by the Holy Father’s secretary.

Mrs McAleese, in 2012, criticised the Vatican’s treatment of five silenced Irish priests, labelling their treatment as “dreadful”.

She described Fr Fagan and similarly silenced Redemptorist, Fr Tony Flannery as “good men who have loved this Church with passion”.

Others who also understood to have been approached to intervene on Fr Fagan’s behalf are

  • the Society of Mary,
  • Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin,
  • Archbishop Charles Brown, the new papal nuncio to Ireland,  and
  • Fr Timothy Radcliffe, the former head of the Dominicans.

As part of Fr Fagan’s silence, the Ireland province of the Society of Mary was required to purchase all remaining copies of the book, and disassociate itself from his views.

In  2013, the Marist Fathers Ireland published a notice on its website saying that Fr Fagan’s writings in the book “What happened to sin” do not have the approval of or represent the views of the Society of Mary.

The Vatican has also dropped its veto on the 1950s writings of the late Fr Lorenzo Milani, who argued that the Church of that time was more involved in ritual than faith.


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