Saturday, February 16, 2013
Calls for priest to resign over "protestant like beliefs"
Evening Echo (Ireland) Feb. 16, 2013 THERE is a growing split in the Diocese of Cloyne over the treatment of Fr Tony Flannery the priest who claims he was threatened with excommunication by the Vatican over his liberal views. Fr Gabriel Burke from Carrigtwohill has called on Fr Flannery to resign because his “Protestant-like beliefs make him no different to Dr Ian Paisley or William McCrea” — the Free Presbyterian minister linked to loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. Fr Burke was defending Fr Damien Lynch from the Fermoy parish, after a small number of parishioners walked out of noon Mass in Fermoy last week in protest at his homily criticising Fr Flannery. Galway based, Fr Flannery had received widespread support from priests across Cork but criticism is now beginning to surface. Fr Lynch said it was regrettable that people had walked out of his Mass and he had not intended to cause offence. Fr Lynch, who at 26 was the first priest ordained in Cloyne for five years last July, told parishioners that Fr Flannery had adopted positions that were not consistent with Catholic faith, and that to adopt some of Fr Flannery’s views were completely at odds with Church doctrine. Fr Flannery was censured by the Vatican last month because of his pro-stance on women priests and liberal stances on contraception and homosexuality. Fr Flannery, aged 66, was suspended from ministry by the Vatican’s powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith watchdog last year. He was told he could only resume ministering if he published an approved article declaring that he accepted all of the Church’s stances on the controversial subjects. Fr Gabriel Burke said that he agreed with Fr Lynch but went further, saying Fr Flannery should “do the honourable thing and resign” as a priest. He claimed Fr Flannery had refused to accept the Church’s fundamental faith of transubstantiation — where bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Christ during Mass — and that this meant he was “no different to a Protestant”. Fr Burke added: “His Protestant-like beliefs make him no different to Dr Ian Paisley or William McCrea. It is akin to a Fine Gael TD having no belief in Fine Gael principles.” If that was the case, a TD would leave the party.” Fr Flannery declined to comment when contacted by the Evening Echo, except to refute Fr Burke’s claims on transubstantiation. A spokesperson for the Diocese of Cloyne said the priests were speaking in a personal capacity and declined to comment further.