Bishop prevents suspended priest speaking at Irish event

An Irish bishop has moved to prevent a suspended Redemptorist speaking at a parish event next month.

Fr Tony Flannery was invited by the parish pastoral council in Killeagh in Cloyne diocese to give the opening address at Spiritfest 2015.

But Fr Flannery’s invitation was cancelled at the order of Bishop William Crean of Cloyne.

This came after meetings between the bishop and the parish priest, the Redemptorist provincial and a pastoral council subcommittee.

Bishop Crean stated that: “The reason being is that Fr Flannery is currently out of ministry and the policy of the Diocese of Cloyne is that a priest who is out of ministry, for whatever reason, cannot exercise a public ministry.”

In 2012, Fr Flannery was suspended from public ministry by the Congregation of the Faith for his views on women priests, homosexuality and contraception.

In a statement on his website, Fr Flannery said since his suspension he has given many talks in Ireland, England and the US.

“With one exception in the US, there had been no problem, and my talks mainly consisted of highlighting the message of Pope Francis,” he said.

“To find an Irish bishop extending the notion of ‘silencing’ to a talk in a community hall is very disappointing.

“How long and at what cost do these bishops imagine they can keep the lid on every boiling pot?”

He said Pope Francis has called for open discussion and respectful listening and asked how a bishop can justify extreme measures to silence people.

He said the incident was an example of a bishop using his episcopal authority to “lay down the law” to a group of committed lay people in a parish, and to “peremptorily overrule their decision”.

“How can we seriously expect any lay person to put themselves forward for positions in the Church when they can so easily be brushed aside when the bishop does not like what they are doing?” he asked.

Fr Flannery is scheduled to speak at the Women’s Ordination Worldwide conference, in Philadelphia next month, just prior to Pope Francis’s visit to the city.

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