Call to return silenced priests to ministry in jubilee year

A call has been made for Rome to allow priests silenced for expressing unorthodox views to return to full ministry as part of the Year of Mercy.

The annual meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland this week heard that six of their members had faced sanctions for their views.

Among their number is the Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery.

Fr Gerry O’Hanlon, who raised the issue, was highly critical of the manner in which Fr Flannery had been treated.

He suggested the Year of Mercy, which begins on December 8, would offer an opportunity for the Church to return the priests to full ministry.

One priest queried the possible perception that the priests were in some way seeking forgiveness.

“If anything it should happen the other way,” he said.

“That maybe Rome and so on should be asking forgiveness for how they have treated people. The issue of justice is very important.”

However, Fr O’Hanlon said a resolution on the matter was drafted in the hope it “might be a door you can walk through without admission”.

The resolution on the matter was put before the meeting of over 100 members of the association.

It was unanimously passed by members of the ACP.

The meeting also heard bishops being appointed appeared out of sync with the realities of life in Ireland today.

Fr Brendan Hoban told the meeting “the same men that were being appointed 40, 50 years ago are still being appointed”.

In recent times the appointment of bishops from far away dioceses has been adopted from the American practice, he explained.

This, he said, had “unmasked” any pretence of consultation.

ACP members also expressed concern at the treatment of priests who are the subjects of allegations of sexual abuse.


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