CDF censure of Irish priest called theologically inept

A leading Irish theologian has described the Vatican’s actions to censure a founder of Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests as “theologically inept”.

In a new book, Augustinian Fr Gabriel Daly examines the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 2012 silencing of Fr Tony Flannery and its suspending him from ministry.

Fr Flannery, a Redemptorist, had written in “Reality” journal that Jesus didn’t intend the kind of system that is the modern Catholic Church.

“I no longer believe that the priesthood, as we currently have it in the Church, originated with Jesus,” Fr Flannery wrote.

Fr Daly told The Tablet, however, that these views “are both theologically and historically unexceptionable”.

“His attackers have simply failed to reckon with his qualification ‘as we currently have it in the Church’.”

Fr Daly added that it was “abundantly clear” that today’s Catholic Church is very different from the gathering of disciples around Jesus.

His new book, The Church: Always in Need of Reform, will put the case for reforming the CDF and will discuss the “meaning of reform in the light of some theological principles and insights”.

It is due to be published later this year.

Fr Daly said the CDF seems intent on claiming that everything in today’s Church is consonant with the will and intentions of Jesus.

“I can do no more than point out that this cannot be historically true,” he said, adding that much depends on one’s interpretation of development.

Fr Flannery wrote on his website that the CDF’s former prefect Cardinal William Levada once told him during a visit to Ireland that he was “formally in heresy”.

But his order has received no notification of this, he wrote.

Fr Flannery stated that there is no justification for banning him from ministry, adding that his order is afraid to stand up to the CDF, even though “Pope Francis has created the climate in which this is very possible”.

In 2012, former Irish president Mary McAleese labelled as “dreadful” the way the CDF treated Fr Flannery and several other Irish priests who had been investigated.

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