Late Marist priest broken by Vatican, former president says

A Marist priest and theologian who died last week in Dublin had his heart and spirit broken by the Vatican, a former president of Ireland has said.

Mary McAleese was speaking of the late Fr Seán Fagan, who died at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin last Friday.

For many years he was critical of Vatican stances on issues of conscience and sexual morality, notably in letters to The Irish Times.

In 2003, he published the book Does Morality Change? , for which he was censured by the Irish Catholic bishops in 2004, and in 2008 Whatever Happened to Sin?

He was first censured by Rome in 2008, and, in 2010, he was informed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) that he would be laicised should he publish anything it considered contrary to Church teaching, and should he disclose this censure to media.

Then in 2012, he was one of five Irish priests silenced by the Vatican.

In April, 2014, Pope Francis had all sanctions against the very ill Fr Fagan lifted.

It later emerged that in December 2013, Ms McAleese had written directly to Pope Francis asking that he personally intervene in the case.

Ms McAleese told The Irish Times she was “saddened by the death of that great questioning mind that was Fr Seán Fagan’s”.

“A brilliant theologian and thinker who brought great distinction to Ireland, his long and illustrious priestly career was blighted in latter years by being silenced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” Mrs McAleese said.

“His heart and spirit were broken but his fidelity to the Church and quiet acceptance of such an unjust fate won him even more admirers,” she said.

Ms McAleese said the lifting of sanctions against Fr Fagan came too little, too late.

“A great and good man’s life and his life’s work had been ruined.

The former president said the priest had been “hounded” by forces “using byzantine processes with no regard for due process or human rights“.

Ms McAleese wished Fr Fagan’s legacy would be “an inspiration to restless inquiring minds who pursue justice and truth no matter what the personal cost”.


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