On the Bus: I come in praise of an Irish priest

It’s not often I rave about a religious leader. But lately I applauded the Nuns on the Bus. And today I’m adding Rev. Tony Flannery to my A-list of passengers on that same bus: fine, i.e., rebellious, religious figures.

Here are a few quotes from this article, by Douglas Dalby:

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…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.”

Later the article goes on to quote from an article Father Flannery published in Reality, a religious magazine. He wrote that 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 priests…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.”

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.

This is one courageous, intelligent, thoughtful guy. I’m putting him On the Bus. And he can come to my place for tea any time he likes.

Read the whole piece: Priest Is Planning to Defy the Vatican’s Orders to Stay Quiet – NYTimes.com.

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