Vatican moves against dissent

From today’s Irish Times:

Vatican moves to quell internal dissenting voices


The Vatican has moved to suppress dissent in the Irish Catholic Church by clamping down on two well-known liberal Redemptorist priests as well as the congregation’s monthly magazine, Reality.

Restrictions have been placed on Fr Tony Flannery, a founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, whose monthly column in the magazine has been discontinued. A clampdown has also been imposed on the magazine itself and its editor, Fr Gerard Moloney, who, it is believed, is no longer allowed to write on certain issues. Neither priest would comment when contacted by The Irish Times yesterday.

Fr Flannery, a brother of senior Fine Gael adviser Frank Flannery, is well known around Ireland through retreats he has conducted in Galway, Limerick, Belfast and elsewhere.

Yesterday Pope Benedict delivered an unusually direct denunciation of dissenting priests and laity in a sermon at a Holy Thursday Mass in St Peter’s Basilica. Responding specifically to a call to disobedience by Austrian priests and laity on celibacy and women priests, he said they had challenged “definitive decisions of the church’s magisterium”.


Posted on April 6, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. If what is reported is correct, I’m sure this is a painful experience for the affected priests. However, their obedience to the lawful of authority appointed over them is to be commended. Such obedience is particularly apt in the light of the Holy Father’s Chrism Mass sermon reminding Catholic priests of the obedience they owe to the Church

  2. Thanks for that Shane. Why do so many people express things in terms of sadness these days? This teaching or that teaching makes me sad … therefore it must be wrong … so it should be changed … becuase the barometer of personal feelings trumps all else … forget 2000 years of doctrine … forget logic or anything else … if it makes someone sad, it must be wrong!
    Sorry for the rant … I’m just fed up of running into that word everywhere, esp when it is used a substitute for rational debate – grrr!

  3. These recalcitrant priests have been leading people to perdition for decades. Their obedience is rather too little, too late. True obedience to God and his Church would mean repentance and conversion.

  4. Lynda, please keep them, and all priests of God’s Church, in your prayers.

  5. dermot finnegan

    It seems that the backlash has started already.I attended the Stations of the Cross at a well known St.Brigids Shrine in Co. louth on Good Friday.Afterwards the Priest invited everyone to recite one Our Father and three Hail Marys and one Gloria.He then stated that these prayers are usually offered for the intentions of the Pope,however today we will offer them for the intentions of the Church as the Pope is only the human head of the Church! Who does this man think he is?If he doesent like the Church into which he was ordained why does he and his ilk not get out and do what Luther done 500 yrs. ago and establish a Church of his own? I will of course bring this issue to the attention of Cardinal Brady.I sincerely believe that these Priests must be challenged each and every time they abuse their status as a Priest of the Catholic Church.

  6. There was a time when a priest who had doubts about some point of doctrine or Church discipline would never publicly express them – much less promote them in an attempt to change the Church to his way of thinking. He would feel that if he had doubts it was due to a lack of faith and would be loath to disturb the faith of others or give scandal by his own perceived weakness. He would study and pray for an increase of faith and a better understanding of Church teaching.

    Today some priests seem to have gone to the other extreme. The ‘call to disobedience’ by those Austrian priests – among others – is presumably what the Holy Father was referring to in his Chrism Mass homily and he rightly decried disobedience as a solution to problems.

    The cover-ups during the abuse scandal in the US and Ireland were frequently justified as attempts to ‘avoid scandal’, such that we have lost sight of what ‘giving scandal’ truly means. But when priests openly espouse dissent and foment revolt against Church teaching they are giving scandal and leading the faithful astray.

    The prime example of this was the reaction to Humanae Vitae in 1968 and subsequently. A Pandora’s box was opened and it continues to wreak havoc in the Church. But as with earlier upheavals – from Arius to Luther and beyond – they will not stand and the Church will continue to survive under the protection of the Holy Spirit.

    • GOR, please accept my apologies for the long delay in approving your comment. I had a problem with my internet connection and I couldn’t get into my WordPress dashboard.

  7. “It is an act of charity to cry out against the wolf when he is amongst the sheep, wherever he is.”- St Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 3 chp. 29

    Is it too much to hope that the shepherds are at long last waking from their slumber? Is it too much to hope that those charged with leading, teaching and sanctifying the Catholic faithful will henceforth act with determination and resolution in discharging their sacred duty? Is it too much that the faithful will henceforth be given bread instead of stones? Is it too much to hope that Rome will step in and do what our own bishops should have done long ago, and take decisive and effective action against the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland (ACP)?

    It looks more and more like the Church in Ireland is well into the eleventh hour. Sorting out the Reality magazine is a very small beginning. By the way, I agree completely, Shane, with your comments over at Rorate Caeli.

    What the Church, here and elsewhere, is really faced with in these times is the culmination and deadly results of the heresy of Modernism, described by Pope Saint Pius X as the “synthesis of all heresies” in his prophetic Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 95 years ago.

    One could be forgiven for thinking that the ACP took their objectives from the errors condemned in this magnificent example of Papal leadership. Read the following if you think I am being harsh:

    Pascendi Dominici Gregis warns that Modernists “disdain all authority and brook no restraint: and relying upon a false conscience, they attempt to ascribe to love of truth which in reality is the result of pride and obstinacy.” (n. 3)
    The ACP invokes the “primacy of the individual conscience.”

    Pascendi Dominici Gregis warns of Modernist belief that “ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic parts” (n. 38) and that the “ecclesiastical magisterium must be subordinate” to “individual consciences” (n. 25).
    The ACP calls for “all believers to be treated as equal”, as well as for a “redesigning of Ministry in the Church” and a “restructuring of the governing system of the Church”.

    Pascendi Dominici Gregis warns that Modernists “lay down the general principle that in a living religion everything is subject to change” (n. 26) and for them “there is nothing immutable in the Church” (n. 28).
    The ACP’s objectives include “a re-evaluation of Catholic sexual teaching.”

    Pascendi Dominici Gregis warns that Modernists “actually admit…that all religions are true” (n. 14)
    The ACP claims that “full acceptance that the Spirit speaks through all people” is needed so that “the breadth of the Spirit will flow more freely.”

    Meanwhile, the Priestly Society that bears the Saint’s name is being asked to jump through hoops and sign an apparent acceptance of a pastoral Council that has been followed by five decades of liturgical, spiritual and moral devastation, which, its defenders tell us, has not yet been properly understood or interpreted. Unbelievable.
    Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand, who was described by Pope Pius XII as the twentieth century Doctor of the Church put it rather well in his book The Devastated Vineyard: “the drivel of heretics, both priests and laymen, is tolerated; the bishops tacitly acquiesce to the poisoning of the faithful. But they want to silence the faithful believers who take up the cause of orthodoxy.”
    I think your readers might find the following quotations from Pascendi Dominici Gregis rather relevant to the crisis facing the Church in Ireland, as indeed, it appears, everywhere else:

    “One of the primary obligations assigned by Christ to the office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord’s flock is that of guarding with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints…these latter days have witnessed a notable increase in the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ, who, by arts entirely new and full of deceit, are striving to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, as far as in them lies, utterly to subvert the very Kingdom of Christ. Wherefore We may no longer keep silence, lest We should seem to fail in Our most sacred duty.” (p. 1)

    “The partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church’s open enemies; but what is to be most dreaded and deplored, in her very bosom, and are the more mischievous the less they keep in the open. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, and, what is much more sad, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, animated by a false zeal for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, put themselves forward as reformers of the Church…”(p. 2)

    “Although they express their astonishment that We should number them amongst the enemies of the Church, no one will be reasonably surprised that We should do so, if, leaving out of account the internal disposition of the soul, of which God alone is the Judge, he considers their tenets, their manner of speech, and their action. Nor indeed would he be wrong in regarding them as the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For, as We have said, they put into operation their designs for her undoing, not from without but from within. Hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is more certain from the very fact that their knowledge of her is more intimate. Moreover, they lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fibres. And once having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to diffuse poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of the Catholic truth which they leave untouched, none that they do not strive to corrupt. Further, none is more skilful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices; for they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily they easily lead the unwary into error; and as audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance.” ( p. 3)

    “While they make a pretence of bowing their heads, their minds and hands are more boldly intent than ever on carrying out their purposes. And this policy they follow willingly and wittingly, both because it is part of their system that authority is to be stimulated but not dethroned, and because it is necessary for them to remain within the ranks of the Church in order that they may gradually transform the collective conscience.” (p. 27)

    Lest anybody, in the ACP or elsewhere, try to portray the above deep concern for the salvation of souls as the words of a reactionary despot (it’s been tried by many in the past), they might ponder the following words of Our Lord:

    “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them”. Matthew 7:15-16

  8. In a certain sense – more than one, of course – Judas was a unique character in history. Usually dissenters like company – safety in numbers, perhaps? The original dissenter – Lucifer – canvassed the other angels to join his revolt. And, we’re told, he had some success, which emboldened him to pursue his objective. Of course the revolt came to naught – or rather to perdition – and his cohorts suffered the same fate as their leader.

    The Gospels do not record if Judas sought accomplices in his betrayal of Jesus, unless you could include the Sanhedrin in that role. But there is no indication that he approached Phillip or James – certainly not John – or any of the other Eleven in his endeavors. It would appear that he acted alone and certainly his ‘reward’ would not have been a strong inducement for others to join. Hence, his uniqueness.

    If misery loves company, dissent loves a crowd. To anyone with a sense of history the recent calls for dissent and disobedience by priests and religious in various countries should send up red flags. Reading the comments following articles on the situation with Frs. Flannery and Moloney, I am struck by a sense of de ja vu. We’ve been here before – repeatedly – in the history of the Church.

    Someone, advocating reform, publicly opposes Church teaching and gathers a following. The following grows and the followers are enthusiastic: “Right on!” “How brave!” “Good for you!” “We’re all behind you!”

    Really? I mean, REALLY…? Think about it, people. Is this what you really want? Is
    ‘Father X’, ‘Father Y’ or ‘Sister Z (Ph.D)’ your real Messiah…? Do they know more than God – in a Luciferian sense…?

    Reformers are not necessarily ‘bad people’. They see something wrong and are passionate about correcting it. All fine as far as it goes. Ecclesia semper reformanda est – at least in her human components. But, inevitably in many cases, what started as ‘good intentions’ – if not tempered by a strong faith – leads to betrayal. Compare two historical reformers: Fr. Martin Luther and St. Francis of Assisi.

    Which one would you want to be?

  9. 5thmariandogma

    Check this out for disobedience and extreme liberal reporting from O’Sullivan!

    Independent Catholic media vital to renewal – Garry O’Sullivan

  10. The authorities of the Church have been paralysed for some forty years and at this stage would seem to be unable to call it’s more egregious malefactors to heel. Since the reign of Pope John the 23rd there has been a progressive relaxation of Church discipline and it remains to be seen how long it will take to restore order. There is one thing you can bet on and that is this priest will be protected by his order and will suffer no serious reprimand or disciplinary measure.

  11. Has Cardinal Christoph Schönborn lost his faith and the ability to reason?

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