Parish priest defies hierarchy in hosting censured speaker

An American pastor has refused a request from his archbishop to cancel or change the venue of a talk by an Irish priest who has been silenced by Rome.

Fr Mike Tegeder of St Frances Cabrini parish in Minneapolis was told by Archbishop John Nienstedt that the venue of Fr Tony Flannery’s talk be changed to a non-Catholic location.

Fr Tegeder said the archbishop wanted this so as “not to cause scandal”.

The talk went ahead last week, with the audience filling the church to overflowing.

Fr Tegeder also said that Archbishop Nienstedt described the Irish priest as “not a Catholic”.

During a 30-minute meeting with the archbishop before the talk, Fr Tegeder said he pointed out that Fr Flannery is a Catholic of good standing.

Fr Flannery is a founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland,

“To say he is not Catholic is to suggest he has been excommunicated, which is not the case, and in fact is a defamatory statement,” Fr Tegeder said.

The priest told his archbishop that the very issues Fr Flannery discusses are those which got an airing at last month’s synod on the family.

Fr Tegeder said if they can be discussed in the Vatican, they can be discussed in Minneapolis.

In follow-up correspondence, Archbishop Nienstedt dispatched a registered letter to Fr Tegeder.

This requested that Fr Flannery “not be perceived in any way as being sponsored by the Catholic Church”, but stated the archbishop had not cut off dialogue.

The parish priest agreed to “announce this publicly” and said he would “have a sign up at the lectern to that effect noting that it comes from you, the Chief Catechist of our Archdiocese”.

Fr Flannery “is trying to reform the Church”, said Fr Tegeder.

“He said listening to women in confession talk about sexual issues and birth control, it’s transformed him.”

Fr Flannery, who is a Redemptorist, was touring the US talking about reform in the Church and his 2012 censure by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

The CDF ordered Fr Flannery to be silent after he questioned elements of Church teaching including whether current understanding of the priesthood directly reflected Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper.


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