Irish priest questions belief in Mary’s life-long virginity

An Irish priest has challenged the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a life-long virgin.

Writing on his blog, suspended Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery mentioned a Scripture passage that refers to Jesus’ brothers and sisters.

“We are told that Jesus had four brothers, and an indefinite number of sisters,” Fr Flannery wrote.

“This does not fit with the Church’s need to present Jesus as the Son of God, conceived in a way that is different from other humans, and Mary as the perpetual virgin.

“So the scholars turned the brothers and sisters into cousins!”

He also said the Gospel account made “a believable statement – that the family of Jesus found it hard to understand what he was about”.

“But the Church, who wished to present an idealised version of the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary and Joseph living in peace and harmony – choose to quietly pass over these words of Jesus.

“Not only that: these doctrines about Jesus, Mary and the Holy Family are now part of the essential doctrine of the Church that we all must accept.”

Fr Flannery also referred to the “thorn in the flesh” quote from St Paul at last Sunday’s Masses.

It, he said, “greatly helped in the Church’s efforts to make anything to do with sex the greatest sin”.

Fr Flannery was suspended from ministry in 2012 by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for his views on women priests, contraception and homosexuality.

He was a founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland.

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