(Source: Women’s Ordination Conference)
As Catholics working together for a renewed Church, we stand proudly in solidarity with Irish Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery in the face of continued threats and bullying from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) over his support for women’s ordination and the full dignity of LGBT+ persons.
The Inquisition-era “oaths of fidelity” the CDF has demanded that Fr. Flannery sign directly oppose the Church’s long-held teachings about the primacy of the individual conscience, as expressed from St. Thomas Aquinas through the Second Vatican Council.
The oaths require Fr. Flannery publicly assent to Church teaching that priestly ordination is reserved to men, that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered,” that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and that rejects “gender theory.”
These kinds of outdated and insulting oaths are damaging to priests who are being asked to choose between their God-given conscience and the Church and its people, whom they are called to serve.
Fr. Flannery’s advocacy represents beliefs that many Catholics share and long to hear more priests speak out loud.
This attempt at suppression by the CDF is a stark reminder of the institution’s resistance to any sort of meaningful dialogue towards solutions to the many crises the Church faces today.
While the CDF may attempt to prevent Fr. Flannery’s “return to public ministry,” what the congregation fails to see is that his ministry cannot be silenced, and in reality, they have not stopped him or all those who join him in following the Gospel message of equality.
If Pope Francis is sincere about his openness to dialogue, his stated need for an increased role for women in the Church, and his words that LGBT+ people are beloved children of God, this letter and oaths of fidelity must be rescinded.
Moreover, structures and processes that advance the vision of a dialogical and discerning Church, which Pope Francis promotes and many Catholics long for, must replace these coercive and abusive tactics.
We call upon other members of the Catholic Church to show the same courage and fidelity to conscience as Fr. Flannery, and for pastoral leaders to walk fearlessly alongside the people of God on the journey to a more inclusive, loving Church.
A Critical Mass: Women Celebrating Eucharist; Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church; Call To Action; Catholics for Choice; Catholics for Choice Canada; Chicago Women-Church; CORPUS; DignityUSA; FutureChurch; Greater Cincinnati Women-Church; New Ways Ministry; Quixote Center; RAPPORT: Renewing a Priestly People: Ordination Reconsidered Today; Roman Catholic Womenpriests; Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference; Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests; Women’s Ordination Conference.