Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Combat Soldiers & Clergywomen: Problematic Equality" by Mary E. Hunt

"When the celebrations wind down I will be looking for people who want to ask hard questions about how we humans deal with our differences without war. Before the Catholic hierarchy makes its announcement, I want to talk about how we Catholics organize ourselves for worship and service. Meanwhile, I content myself with the age-old advice, be careful what you pray for..."

Bridget Mary's Response:
Excellent question, and a thought-provoking article by  feminist theologian Mary Hunt!
I believe that a renewed priestly ministry must avoid the clerical trap of the "good old boys club."  Baptism into Christ makes us all spiritual equals. Women priests are making a bridge to gender equality from the kyriarchal model of church to a community of equals model that is truly empowered. It is a fragile bud, but it is beginning to blossom.
 In Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Fl. we have co-presiders of ordained and non-ordained at our weekly liturgy. The assembly celebrates the Eucharist. Some of the highlights are a shared homily with community participating,  the recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer is done by members of the congregation gathered in a circle around the altar. All pray Words of Institution, all do final blessing etc.  Our arcwp celebrations are not a return to the glory days of the "magic fingers" of the old clerical model of priestly ministry, but a faith-filled community celebration of the contemporary Body of Christ who shares the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ on the margins. We conclude our service with mutual blessing as a prophetic people on the edge where we are called to go forth and let the service begin anew. 
Bridget Mary Meehan,arcwp

"Is the Pope Panicking Over Sex Scandals, Political Polls or Both" by Catholic Lawyer, Jerry Slevin

No Evidence of Apponting Bishops or of Peter Appointing Successors to the Twelve Apostles/ Bishops and Early Popes were "elected" by community/"Council of Baptized .org" for Historical Practices of Roman Catholic Church

Practice in the New Testament

"The lives of the twelve apostles in the first century after Jesus’ death provide

no evidence of their appointing bishops or of Peter’s appointing successors

to the twelve apostles in the manner practiced today. “It is not

the concern of the New Testament writers to present a coherent history

of emerging ecclesiastical structures” (Cardman 2004, 35).

The early Christian communities functioned fluidly like a movement,

not yet as a structured institution. The first writings surviving from the

years following Jesus’ death are the letters of Paul to the Christian communities

in the Greek speaking world (AD 50s). In each case Paul addresses

his letters to the whole community in a particular city, sometimes

naming men and women who are the leaders. Paul sees the Christian

community as a community of equals, where each of the members has

gifts to contribute to the community (Haight 2004). Various people assume

leadership roles within each community; Paul makes no references

to bishops or to apostolic succession. The successor to Judas among the

twelve was Matthias, chosen by the drawing of lots (Acts 1:12-26).

The gospel narratives report that Jesus himself calls and appoints the

twelve and teaches them the roles of servant leadership. “The greatest

among you must be your servant” (Matthew 23:22). “You know that

among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great

men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you” (Mark

10:42). Jesus does not mandate a model for subsequent leadership selection.

Practice in the Early Church

Evidence from early church tradition supports our initiative to call our

spiritual leaders. Luke’s writing from late in the first century suggests

church offices are beginning to take shape, yet still fluid. In Acts 6:1-6,

Peter appoints seven deacons to serve the widows in Jerusalem and free

the apostles to preach; in Acts 7 and 8 two of these deacons Stephen and

Philip are preaching, not distributing food. By the time of the writing of

the Didache (c. 100) there is an emerging local ministry of bishops and

deacons. The Didache writer urges the communities “to elect bishops

and deacons, men who are ‘gentle, generous, faithful, and well tried’ ”

(Cardman 2004, 36). The pastoral epistles reflect concern with structure

in households of faith. Scholars date the description of the ideal qualities

for bishops (1Timothy 3:1-7) about AD 100.

As the numbers of Christians grew during the second and third centuries,

they organized themselves more formally with bishops and presbyters

in a diverse number of communities. Ignatius of Antioch, c.100, is

the first recorded advocate of a structure for the community with bishops

and clergy (Haight 2004, 84). The community’s selection of its bishop was

typical in the early church. Hippolytus in AD 215 stated, “Let the bishop

be ordained…having been elected by all the people.” Bishops John

Chrysostom, Ambrose of Milan, and Augustine of Hippo, the great bishops

of the Patristic era, were selected with the people’s involvement. The

bishops of Rome were elected, as evidenced in the writing of Pope Celestine,

422-432: “The one who is to be head over all should be elected

by all. No one should be made a bishop over the unwilling; the consent

and desire of the clergy and the people…is required” (cited in McClory

2007, 31; Haight 2004).

Practice from Constantine

Through the Middle Ages

Church history from Constantine in AD 313 to the formulation of the first

code of canon law in 1917 shows a long struggle for institutional identity

and self-governance. The struggle between the Church of Rome and European

monarchies for power to govern the church ended with Rome’s

winning the centralized power to appoint bishops.

Until the end of the fourth century the church had no central ecclesiastical

power to appoint bishops. The eastern churches and the western

churches were separate even though headed by Constantine, the Roman

Emperor who accepted Christianity as the religion of the empire. They

were dependent to varying degrees on the jurisdiction of the Empire. The

bishop of Rome had recognition because of the city’s central position in

the Empire;..."
Bridget Mary's Response:
Excellent resource! Today the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is charting a renewed priestly ministry in a community of equals. Many Catholics are affirming the early tradition of the church as a "discipleship of equals" and are calling for more open, accountable, people-empowered structures in the election/selection of bishop and pope by the faith community. In my veiw, it is part of the spiritual revolution that is happening in Catholicism today and it is a welcome holy shakeup of the hierarchical structures! Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fr. Tony Flannery is right about priesthood/ David Quinn needs history lesson - No unbroken line of Apostolic Succession/ Response by Bridget Mary Meehan,arcwp

David Quinn needs a refresher in church history. Fr. Tony Flannery is right about the priesthood.

Gary Wills, in his book, What Jesus Meant writes “Nowhere is it indicated there was an official presider at the Christian meal (agape), much less that consecrating the bread and wine was a task delegated to persons of a certain rank. It is a mark of the gospels’ fidelity to the followers’ original status that not one of them mentions a Christian priest or priesthood. When the term “priesthood” finally occurs, in the pseudo-Petrine letters, it refers to the whole Christian community (1 Peter 2.5, 2.9) and the “Peter” of this letter refers to himself not as a priest but as a “fellow elder” to the other elders… “(Gary Wills, What Jesus Meant, pp.69-70)

1. There were no priests in the first centuries of Christianity. Jesus does not call any of his followers priests. Peter, Paul, and the other apostles were not priests or bishops. Paul refers to functions and ministries, that came from gifts of the Spirit, not offices regulated by hierarchy, 1 Cor. 2.11-16) (Gary Wills, What Jesus Meant, pp.68-69)

Women were apostles. Junia (Romans 16:7), and Mary of Magdala, to whom the Risen Christ appeared and sent on mission to proclaim the core belief of Christianity, the Resurrection was the apostle to the apostles.

2. There is no unbroken line of Apostolic Succession.

David Quinn apparently has no idea that Peter was not a priest, a bishop, or a pope, or that apostolic succession comes down to us from the 1400's after the Great Western Schism. Therefore, apostolic succession does not go back to Peter and there is no unbroken line of succession. Three popes claimed to be pope at one time and Council of Constance appointed a different/new pope in 1417.

By the way, the history of the papacy is triple x rated – popes waged wars, granted indulgences for killing infidels (Crusades), Benedict X: papacy bought and sold for money; Gregory1, “When a woman has given birth she should abstain from entering a church for thirty-three days if she had a boy, sixty-six if she had a girl.”

And at least one pope wrote about women priests. He was annoyed that the bishops allowed women to preside at the altar.
Pope Gelasius wrote “Nevertheless we have heard to our annoyance that divine affairs have come to such a low state that women are encouraged to officiate at the sacred altars and to take part in all matters imputed to the offices of the male sex to which they do not belong.” (Gelasus "Letter to the Bishops of Lucania", 494) Sources: Rome has Spoken by Maureen Fiedler and Linda Rabben, and Gary Wills, What Jesus Meant

 Like Gary Wills, Tony Flannery gets it about the negative influences of clericalism: Wills sums it up:  “Christian priesthood, along with revived holiness codes- consecrated altars and consecrated men and “consecrating fingers,” with the extrusion of the laity (especially women) from altars from secret conclaves, from decision making from control of the believers’ money. The “rood screen” separating clergy from laity was a great barrier in the Middle Ages and it survived for a long time in the “communion railing”. Women returned to the unclean status give them by menstruation under Jewish (and other) law, were not allowed inside the sanctuary of a church- even the altar cloths had to be carried out to the nuns who washed them. For these groups, Jesus cleansed the Temple in vain.” (Gary Wills, What Jesus Meant, p. 85-84.)
Yes, the good news is that some smart, prophetic priests are now  breaking their silence and speaking about the sin of sexism, the elephant in the church's living room. Just when is the Vatican going to repent?
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

How Much Longer Can the Vatican Avoid Priest Sex Abuse?"
(Article by Jerry Slevin)

"Laity Should Stand Up to Corruption of Roman Catholic Church"Father Phillip Lichtenwalter, St. Louis

"Since the break of the sex abuse scandal, the Roman Catholic Church has lost all grounds to speak on matters of faith and morals. The question now becomes, “Why does anyone continue to attend a Roman Catholic Church?”
Within the past week alone, we have heard stories of how cardinals and bishops have actively and knowingly protected pedophiles while speaking out against priests and nuns who speak out against the errors of the Roman Catholic Church. While Cardinal Mahony of California is accused of hiding sexual abuse by priests, Father Flannery, an Irish Catholic priest, is threatened with excommunication for speaking out against the Vatican. While the Religious Women’s Leadership Conference is under scrutiny for helping the poor, oppressed and marginalized, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are actively protesting the implementation of Obamacare under the guise of “religious freedom.” While Cardinal George and the bishops of Illinois are actively using their pulpits and finances to protest the newest legislation in Illinois to pass same-sex marriage, Father Donovan, a priest of the Springfield diocese, is forced to call 911 after he found himself bound and gagged, handcuffed in the church’s rectory. The list goes on and on. There isn’t a day that goes by without a news report of some form of corruption taking place within the Roman Catholic Church.

As a Catholic priest, this makes me wonder, why do so many educated men and women choose to be subjected to this corruption? With all the wonderful independent Catholic churches within the United States, such as the American National Catholic Church, which offers a modern and inclusive expression of our Catholic faith, why would the laity choose to be subjected to hypocrisy over spiritual happiness? Is the laity so brainwashed that they would refuse to go anywhere else than to give up on Roman Catholicism? Does the laity truly believe that remaining in the church and fighting for change is really going to work? At what point will the Roman Catholic Church finally stand up, raise the white flag and call it quits? I pray that it’s sooner than later.

I challenge the laity to stand up and speak out against this corruption and hypocrisy. I challenge the laity to finally say, “Enough is enough!” We will not let the church molest our children. We will not let the church hide behind tax exemption yet actively engage in politics. We will not let the church mismanage our money for their political advancement. We will not let the church cry holy when they are promoting hatred and evil. We will not let the church verbally assault our women while choosing to do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want. We will not let the church promote hatred and discrimination of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as “intrinsically evil” while promoting and protecting pedophiles, perverts and molesters. We will not endure within this Roman hierarchy of hypocrisy any longer. We are Catholics, not Roman Catholic! We have had enough! "
Father Phillip Lichtenwalter • St. Louis
Pastor, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Redemptorist Priest: Vatican Threatened Excommunication for Advocating Discussion...Women Priests" by Irish journalist John Cooney/National Catholic Reporter/"Holy Shakeup" that Vatican Fears

John Cooney,a prominent Irish journalist, wrote this excellent article on Fr. Tony Flannery for the National Catholic Reporter. Like Maryknoll Roy Bourgeois, Franciscan Jerry Zawada, Jesuit Bill Brennan, Fr. Helmut Schüller of the Austrian Priests' Initiative, Redemptorist Tony Flannery is standing up in solidarity for women priests as an issue of conscience and justice in our church. The good news is that the holy shakeup of the Vatican's old boys' network is growing as prophetic priests and  organizations of male priests in Europe jump on board for women's ordination. I often heard my Dad, who died in Nov., play"God save Ireland" on the trumpet. Perhaps, this is one of the ways that God is going to save, not only Ireland ,but the church.  We can conclude from the Vatican's over-the-top punishments of courageous male priests, like Redemptorist. Tony Flannery, that one of the hierarchy's worst nightmares is the growing support of women priests by male priests! Where will it all end? Hopefully, we will see a renewed, vibrant church of the baptized where the gifts of all are celebrated and affirmed, and where women and men gather as partners and equals  to celebrate Eucharist in  faith communities that are inclusive and "catholic". It is time for all who love our church to join together to promote Gospel equality. Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,
NCR Article:
Update: The head of the Redemptorist fathers in Rome said he deeply regrets that Flannery broke the silence he had been asked to observe, Catholic New Service reported Wednesday

"Redemptorist Fr. Michael Brehl, the order's superior general, also confirmed that Flannery is under Vatican investigation for alleged ambiguities "regarding fundamental areas of Catholic doctrine, including the priesthood, the nature of the church and the Eucharist. Brehl said he wanted to "earnestly invite" Flannery "to renew the efforts to find an agreed solution to the concerns raised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."He also asked Irish Redemptorists to "join with me in praying and working together in the spirit of St. Alphonsus to maintain and strengthen our communion with the universal church."

Irish Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery broke a year of silence Sunday to reveal that the Vatican had threatened him with excommunication and removal from his religious congregation because he advocates for open discussions about church teachings on ordaining women, clerical celibacy, contraceptives and homosexuality.
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith removed Flannery, 66, from public ministry last February, pending the outcome of its inquiries into views he expressed in Reality, a Redemptorist-run magazine.
Flannery also said he has had no direct contact in person or writing from the congregation. All communication has come through the Redemptorist superior general in Rome, Fr. Michael Brehl.
Flannery described the actions against him as "frightening, disproportionate and reminiscent of the Inquisition."
He said he initially tried to find a compromise with the Vatican congregation, but by September, it became clear this would not happen."I gradually became aware that the CDF continually raised the bar until it got to the point where I could no longer negotiate," Flannery said. "I was faced with a choice. Either I sign a statement, for publication, stating that I accepted teachings that I could not accept, or I would remain permanently banned from priestly ministry, and maybe face more serious sanctions.

"It is important to state clearly that these issues were not matters of fundamental teaching, but rather of church governance," he said.

Flannery, a popular retreat master and writer, said the congregation also had ordered him "not to have any involvement, public or private" with the Association of Catholic Priests. Flannery co-founded the association in 2010 as a forum for discussion among Irish clergy on issues affecting the Irish church and society.

"I have served the church, the Redemptorists and the people of God for two-thirds of my life. Throughout that time, I have in good conscience raised issues I believed important for the future of the Church in books and essays largely read by practicing Catholics, rather than raising them in mainstream media," Flannery said in a statement released at a news conference. "I'm hardly a major and subversive figure within the Church deserving excommunication and expulsion from the religious community within which I have lived since my teens."The choice facing him, he said, was between deciding between Rome and his conscience.

"Submitting to these threats would be a betrayal of my ministry, my fellow priests and the Catholic people who want change," he said.
The Redemptorists in Ireland issued a strong defense of Flannery on Sunday.

"We do understand and support his efforts to listen carefully to and at times to articulate the views of people he encounters in the course of his ministry," the provincial leadership team of the Irish Redemptorists said in a statement.

They said they regretted immensely that "some structures or processes of dialogue have not yet been found in the Church which have a greater capacity to engage with challenging voices from among God's people, while respecting the key responsibility and central role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

The Association of Catholic Priests also affirmed "in the strongest possible terms" its support for Flannery. The association said Flannery was being targeted as "part of a worldwide effort to negate the influence of independent priests' associations in Austria, USA, Germany, France, Switzerland and other places."

Also at the news conference was Fr. Helmut Schüller of the Austrian Priests' Initiative. He criticized the "lack of basic rights and respect for personal conscience" in the church.

Former Irish President Mary McAleese spoke in support of Flannery and other dissident Irish clerics Oct. 20 at the launch of her book Quo Vadis?: Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law at the Jesuit headquarters in Dublin. There she spoke privately to Flannery, who was making a rare public appearance.

The reform group We are Church Ireland announced a peaceful vigil outside the Vatican's Apostolic Nunciature in Dublin, planned for Jan. 27, to offer unconditional support for Flannery's right "not to be forced by an abuse of his vow of obedience to submit to the secretive demands" of the doctrinal congregation.

Flannery said, "The threats are a means, not just of terrifying me into submission, but of sending a message to any other priest expressing views at variance with those of the Roman Curia."

From the West of Ireland, Flannery was born in Attymon, County Galway, and spent time as a Redemptorist preacher in Limerick. He has a large following both as preacher and retreat master. He is a popularizer, rather than a heavyweight scholar. He holds audience attention through dialogue, especially with parents who find that the clerical abuse scandals have alienated their children from religion.

Once noted for hellfire sermons, the Redemptorists have been at the forefront of the drive for necessary church change. Flannery's 1999 book, From the Inside: A Priest's View of the Catholic Church, is part autobiographical and part appraisal of Irish Catholicism. It consists of short, readable pieces, highlighting inadequate sexual and spiritual training of priests. It examines fault lines that emerged in the aftermath of Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, upholding the church's ban on artificial forms of contraception.

In this book, too, Flannery criticized the institution's mishandling of clerical celibacy.
His Fragments of Reality, published in 2008 by Columba Press of Dublin, contains his collected writings since 1998, when he was a member of the Redemptorist Mission Team which comprised laypeople and clergy.
He saw firsthand the steady decline throughout Ireland of church attendance and of candidates for the priesthood.
He also witnessed the continued denial of any meaningful role for women in ministry. "How much longer can this policy be sustained?" he wrote. "We must be the last institution in the Western world that continues to hold such blatant discrimination against women. I don't have any doubt that there is no theological or scriptural basis for this position, but that it is purely a social and institutional construct hiding a fairly barefaced and primitive desire for male domination."

In the essay "The Ordination of Women" in Fragments of Reality, he revealed that he knows a few of the women who were ordained in the Roman Catholic women priests movement on a riverboat in Pittsburgh in 2006. He personally knows Irish-born Bridget Mary Meehan, who is a bishop in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests."
[John Cooney is a Dublin-based journalist and historian.]

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"How the Vatican built a Secret Property Empire Using Mussolini's Millions"/The Guardian/British News Story

"Papacy used offshore tax havens to create £500m international portfolio, featuring real estate in UK, France and Switzerland"

David Leigh, Jean François Tanda and Jessica Benhamou

The Guardian, Monday 21 January 2013 20.23 GMT
"Few passing London tourists would ever guess that the premises of Bulgari, the upmarket jewellers in New Bond Street, had anything to do with the pope. Nor indeed the nearby headquarters of the wealthy investment bank Altium Capital, on the corner of St James's Square and Pall Mall.

But these office blocks in one of London's most expensive districts are part of a surprising secret commercial property empire owned by the Vatican.

Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church's international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.

Since then the international value of Mussolini's nest-egg has mounted until it now exceeds £500m. In 2006, at the height of the recent property bubble, the Vatican spent £15m of those funds to buy 30 St James's Square. Other UK properties are at 168 New Bond Street and in the city of Coventry. It also owns blocks of flats in Paris and Switzerland.

The surprising aspect for some will be the lengths to which the Vatican has gone to preserve secrecy about the Mussolini millions. The St James's Square office block was bought by a company called British Grolux Investments Ltd, which also holds the other UK properties. Published registers at Companies House do not disclose the company's true ownership, nor make any mention of the Vatican..."

Bridget Mary's Response:
 What a shocker to see the connection between Mussolini and the pope? Why does the Vatican hide the church's financial assets? Thiis report will probably surprise, or even shock, many Catholics in the pews.
We can see clearly the need for accountability and transparency in the Vatican and among the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. I wonder if any of this is related to the Vati-leaks or the Butler's case.
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama Calls for Inclusivity and Equality at 2nd Inaugural Address

Obama calls for greater equality for all
Let us hope that one day, in not too distant future, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, including the pope, will  stand up in St. Peter's Square, with women priests, and issue a similar prophetic call! Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,

Media Statement from the Provincial Leadership Team of the Irish Redemptorists

Sunday 20th January 2013
"The Irish Redemptorist Community is deeply saddened by the breakdown in communication between Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss.R. and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)Fr. Tony Flannery is highly regarded and respected by many in Ireland, both within and outside of the Redemptorist Congregation. He has been an effective parish missioner all over the country since the mid 1970s and from this context has raised matters which he believes need greater dialogue, debate and consideration. Within the Dublin Province of the Redemptorists there exists a very lively spirit of debate and dialogue; we are and over many years have been, committed to mature discourse. Although not all Redemptorists would accept Fr. Flannery’s views on all matters, we do understand and support his efforts to listen carefully to and at times to articulate the views of people he encounters in the course of his ministry.As Irish Redemptorists we appreciate the difficulties this situation has created for others, especially for our Superior General in Rome, Fr. Michael Brehl. He has made every possible effort to resolve the matters which have emerged between the CDF and Fr. Flannery.Our Redemptorist Constitutions require us to be obedient to God’s call to us as religious in the Church. Following our founder, St. Alphonsus, for whom thinking with the Church was a important criterion of missionary service, a further key element of our Church mandate is to listen and stay close to God’s people; to engage in missionary dialogue with the world while endeavouring to understand people’s anxious questionings; to try to discover in these how God is truly being revealed.It is of immense regret that some structures or processes of dialogue have not yet been found in the Church which have a greater capacity to engage with challenging voices from among God’s people, while respecting the key responsibility and central role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.We sincerely hope and pray that even at this late stage, some agreed resolution can be found to this matter."

"Vatican's demand for silence is too high a price" Fr. Tony Flannery/Irish Times Article/"Holy Shakeup Continues

...."There are people who will say I should leave the Catholic Church and join another Christian church – one more suitable to my stance. Being a Catholic is central to my personal identity. I have tried to preach the gospel. No matter what sanctions the Vatican imposes on me I will continue, in whatever way I can, to try to bring about reform in the church and to make it again a place where all who want to follow Christ will be welcome. He made friends with the outcasts of society, and I will do whatever I can in my own small way to oppose the current Vatican trend of creating a church of condemnation rather than one of compassion.I believe that the real aim of the CDF is to suppress the ACP – attempts have been made to clip the wings of the Austrian association. I hope and pray it will not succeed.While I am dealing with these issues in my own life I believe it is appropriate for me to temporarily stand down from my position of leadership in the association. I will, however, remain an active member, and will be available to help in every way possible for the work of the ACP, which is bigger than any one person.Finally, it could be asked why I am going public now having remained silent for a year. I need to take back my voice."
Bridget Mary's Response:
The holy shakeup continues as more and more priests stand up for conscience and an inclusive church that includes women priests. I pray that one day we will have women priests in Ireland. I stand in solidarity with Fr. Tony Flannery and the Association of Irish Priests and thank them for their prophetic witness to gender equality in the Catholic Church. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests,,


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Irish Priest Will Defy Vatican by Breaking Silence/Refuses to Sign Statement Against Women Priests/Congratulations Fr. Tony Flannery for Speaking Truth to Power

DUBLIN — "A well-known Irish Catholic priest plans to defy Vatican authorities on Sunday by breaking his silence about what he says is a campaign against him by the church over his advocacy of more open discussion on church teachings.

The Rev. Tony Flannery, 66, who was suspended by the Vatican last year, said he was told by the Vatican that he would be allowed to return to ministry only if he agreed to write, sign and publish a statement agreeing, among other things, that women should never be ordained as priests and that he would adhere to church orthodoxy on matters like contraception and homosexuality.
“How can I put my name to such a document when it goes against everything I believe in,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “If I signed this, it would be a betrayal not only of myself but of my fellow priests and lay Catholics who want change. I refuse to be terrified into submission.”
Father Flannery, a regular contributor to religious publications, said he planned to make his case public at a news conference here on Sunday.
The Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote to Father Flannery’s religious superior, the Rev. Michael Brehl, last year instructing him to remove Father Flannery from his ministry in County Galway, to ensure he did not publish any more articles in religious or other publications, and to tell him not to give interviews to the news media.
In the letter, the Vatican objected in particular to an article published in 2010 in Reality, an Irish religious magazine. In the article, Father Flannery, a Redemptorist priest, wrote that he no longer believed that “the priesthood as we currently have it in the church originated with Jesus” or that he designated “a special group of his followers as priestInstead, he wrote, “It is more likely that some time after Jesus, a select and privileged group within the community who had abrogated power and authority to themselves, interpreted the occasion of the Last Supper in a manner that suited their own agenda.”Father Flannery said the Vatican wanted him specifically to recant the statement, and affirm that Christ instituted the church with a permanent hierarchical structure and that bishops are divinely established successors to the apostles.He believes the church’s treatment of him, which he described as a “Spanish Inquisition-style campaign,” is symptomatic of a definite conservative shift under Pope Benedict XVI.“I have been writing thought-provoking articles and books for decades without hindrance,” he said. “This campaign is being orchestrated by a secretive body that refuses to meet me. Surely I should at least be allowed to explain my views to my accusers.”His superior was also told to order Father Flannery to withdraw from his leadership role in the Association of Catholic Priests, a group formed in 2009 to articulate the views of rank-and-file members of the clergy.
In reply to an association statement expressing solidarity with Father Flannery, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith denied it was acting in a secretive manner, pointed out that Father Flannery’s views could be construed as “heresy” under church law, and threatened “canonical penalties,” including excommunication, if he did not change his views.This month, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to an American priest, Roy Bourgeois, notifying him of his laicization, following his excommunication in 2008 over his support for the ordination of women."
Bridget Mary's Response:
Kudos to Fr. Tony Flannery for standing up to Vatican oppression of women and abuse of power.  As Martin Luther King reminds us we must always challenge injustice, no matter where we find it. I am proud of your prophetc stance for gender justice in the Roman Catholic Church. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests stands in solidarity with the Irish Priests Association. We affirm our Irish brothers and look forward to the day when the Catholic Church will follow the example Jesus gave of Gospel equality. Your story is the most recent chapter in the growing spiritual revolution that is spreading in the Roman Catholic Church.  Let us lead the way to a renewed, people-empowered Roman Catholic Church!
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp
 (Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests)