Censured theologian says CDF prefect leads anti-Pope faction

A silenced Irish theologian says the prefect of the Church’s doctrinal watchdog is head of a Vatican faction opposed to Pope Francis.

Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery told an Irish radio show that Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, leads the anti-Francis faction in the Vatican.

“He would generally be seen as the leader of that,” Fr Flannery said.

“There is an enormous power struggle going on in the Vatican, at the moment, there’s no doubt about that.

“A lot of people there who are very unhappy with the type of thing that Francis is doing,” he said.

Fr Flannery said he is a fan of Francis and likes the way he was going about reforming the Church.

The Redemptorist also said the Pope was unable to touch the power of the CDF, who are still “very strong and powerful”.

Writings on subjects like Church structure and reform, the place of women in the Church, celibacy, contraception and the nature of priesthood saw Fr Flannery summonsed to Rome by his order’s leadership in 2012.

It was made clear to him that objections had come from the CDF.

A long process lead to Fr Flannery being forbidden to minister as a priest, write or give newspaper interviews.

Last year, Fr Flannery decided to ignore the instruction to remain silent.

In the radio interview last week, Fr Flannery also discussed recent talks between himself and his order.

On his blog, Fr Flanner wrote that his Redemptorist superiors told him there was no way they would take on the CDF.

He said he was told the only way to get back into ministry was to re-enter the process with the CDF, “strictly according to their rules”, and then give a further statement.

But Fr Flannery said the CDF has “resolutely refused to meet me, or in any way to communicate with me directly”.

So Fr Flannery said he is faced with a choice of re-engaging with the CDF in what he calls an unjust process, or accept that he will probably never minister as a priest again.

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