Fr. Tony Flannery gave an excellent presentation to over 100 Catholics about his " silencing" by the Vatican and an overview of issues of church renewal and conscience in Sarasota on Nov. 11th, 2014 which our local ABC television station covered.
..."Those who do not give up entirely often respond by setting up their own small communities, where they come together to pray, read the scriptures, and celebrate the Eucharist, with a married priest, with one of the Roman Catholic women priests or with no priest at all.
Love of God
The official response is excommunication, but the people I was meeting are not concerned. They don’t believe that a decree from any human person can cut them off from the love of God, which they say they experience deeply in these small communities.
The Pope Francis effect is significant among them. They are very hopeful as they see him returning to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. They follow church affairs closely and showed significant interest in the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome.
They are able to debate knowledgeably where Francis is trying to lead the church. They are uplifted by some signs of hope among US bishops – for instance Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley, in a recent television interview, stating that the Vatican investigation of the US women religious was a “disaster”, or the new Archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich, stating clearly at his consecration that he fully supported Pope Francis.
In the US church context, that was a political statement, nailing his colours to the mast, leaving people and bishops in no doubt where he stood.
Many people I spoke to believe the church as institution is in the process of collapse, and is beyond recovery. That may be true. All institutions are under pressure today, and it is impossible to know what shape things will take. But fragmentation is a danger in the US church."