Old Men and Their New Inquisition


Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition or more familiarly as the “Holy Office,” will be 76 on June 15th. He should have retired last year. His predecessor prefect at the CDF, Pope Benedict XVI, will be 85 on April 16th. Popes don’t retire. They just move on eternally.

In Acts of the Apostles we read about old men dreaming dreams and younger men having visions. In the international press, these days, we read about old men dreaming dreams of sanction and silence for younger visionaries.

The Former CDF Prefect, we heard in his Holy Thursday homily, doesn’t like disobedient Austrian priests looking for answers. The Current CDF Prefect, we read today, doesn’t like Irish priests who ask questions.

Gerard O’Connell, Irish journalist, reports from Rome:

“The Association of Irish Priests (ACP) – which represents about a third of all the priests in Ireland – says it is ‘disturbed’ at the silencing of Father Tony Flannery, one of its founder members. The ACP issued a press statement on the afternoon of Easter Monday, April 9, expressing its ‘extreme unease and disquiet’ at this development. Its statement came after various Irish media, including The Irish Catholic (April 5) and The Irish Times (April 9), had already reported that the Vatican had imposed the silencing.

“….Vatican Insider has learned from informed sources that in mid-March Fr. Flannery, 65, a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, popularly known as The Redemptorists, was summoned to Rome for a meeting with his Superior General, Father Michael Brehl….

“In Rome, Fr. Flannery learned that Fr.Brehl, his Canadian Superior General, had earlier been summoned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), where, according to sources, its prefect, Cardinal William Levada, had informed him that the CDF had concerns about the ‘orthodoxy’ of certain views expressed by Fr.Flannery in articles that he had written for the magazine Reality. The monthly magazine is published by the Irish Redemptorists, and has a circulation of around 6,500.

In particular, the CDF was concerned about the orthodoxy of what Fr. Flannery had written regarding contraception, the possibility of married priests in Ireland, and the ordination of women as priests. The CDF also seems to have problems regarding his leadership role in the Association of Irish Priests, which today has 820 of the 3,400 Irish priests as members, and would like him to withdraw from that.

“Sources say the Superior General told Fr. Flannery that he cannot write or speak on any of the above mentioned subjects. Furthermore, he has asked the Irish priest to go to a monastery for about six weeks to pray and reflect on all this. At the end of that period, he hopes Fr. Flannery will return ‘to think with the Church’ (Sentire cum Ecclesia).

Vatican Insider has learned too that the editor of the magazine Reality, Fr.Gerard Moloney, also a Redemptorist priest, has been instructed not to write on the above mentioned topics. Moreover, the magazine Reality has henceforth to be reviewed by a theologian before publication.

“Cardinal Levada wants the Superior General of the Redemptorists to report back to him by the end of July to assure him that Fr. Flannery’s situation has been resolved. Vatican Insider has tried to contact the Superior General to have his comments on this whole matter but he had left Rome, and could not be reached at the time of writing….

The ACP affirmed ‘in the strongest possible terms’ its ‘confidence in and solidarity with Fr Flannery’ and stated clearly that it believed that ‘this intervention is unfair, unwarranted and unwise….’ The ACP rejected its depiction by ‘some reactionary fringe groups’ as ‘a small coterie of radical priests with a radical agenda’ and said it has ‘protested vehemently against that unfair depiction.’

” ‘We are and we wish to remain at the very heart of the Church, committed to putting into place the reforms of the Second Vatican Council,’ the Association stated firmly.”

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