John Cooney on the papal nuncio, Bishop Crean and myself

Irish Journalist John Cooney from Dublin writes:
Ireland’s Papal Nuncio Charles Brown scored a spectacular own goal by highlighting the ineffectuality of the Vatican’s ‘silencing’ of dissident Redemptorist priest Tony Flannery, whose continued marginalisation from public ministry at home  is more than matched by his celebrity emergence as a top speaker at an international conference next month in Philadelphia in support of the ordination of women priests just days before Pope Francis’s first visit to the Land of the Free.
In his first extended interview last week-end since his promotion to Ireland three years ago an unusually reverential Irish Times coverage backfired on the Manhattan-born Brown when Religious Affairs Correspondent Patsy McGarry twinned the lofty musings of Rome’s domineering clerical governor in Ireland about the piety of the natives with a news report that the Bishop of Cloyne, William Crean, had ordered the east Cork parish pastoral council of Killeagh to cancel its invitation to the co-founder of the Association of Irish Priests to address it in the local community hall at the end of September.       
Flannery, who in 2012 was suspended from public ministry for his liberal views on the ordination of women, homosexuality, divorce and contraception by the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, (CDF), hit a bull’s eye with his immediate retort that “the ease with which the bishop dismissed the pastoral council” illustrated how “meaningless is all this talk of giving more power to the laity”, particularly “in the age of Pope Francis.”  
While paying due filial homage to the current reform-minded occupant of the Petrine See, the garrulous Brown spent much of his interview congratulating himself on masterminding the appointment of 10 new bishops including his Munster mole, Crean of Cloyne, in the wake of the clerical child abuse scandals. Nor did the swaggering Dean of the Diplomatic Corps hide his awe of Pope John Paul II’s unconcealed intolerance of an “open church’, as well as his abiding admiration for the intellectuality of his former boss at the CDF, Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict.
What the Flannery-deprived simple faithful of Killeagh are deemed unfit to hear will not extend to the star-filled panel of speakers at the Women’s Ordination Worldwide conference in Philly from September 18-20. Actor Martin Sheen and leading Benedictine nun Sister Joan Chittister have endorsed the conference goal of promoting the admission of Catholic women to all ordained ministries.
Worse still from the perspective of the Brown-Crean exclusively male boys-only club is that the excommunicated Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) led by Irish-born Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan will be in a stone’s throw to Philadelphia on September 24. At Pendle Hill, Pennsylvania Blessed Bridget Mary will ordain three new women bishops from Latin America, Canada and the United States, Olga Lucia Alvarez of Medellin, Colombia, Michele Birch Conery of Windsor, Ontario, and Mary E. Collingwood of Hudson, Ohio. Meehan, who hosted a previous visit by Flannery to Sarasota, Florida, told Goldhawk of how popular a public speaker he is. ‘Everyone lines up to attend Tony’s talks and buy his books especially his Question of Conscience, banned by the hierarchy. Doesn’t the bishop of Cloyne realize that Tony is promoting reform in the church?”
Obviously, not Charlie Broon, who was faced with the glum statistic on Sunday when the national seminary of Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth welcomed a mere 17 new seminarians for the priesthood, four of them Northern dioceses who will study in the unworldly sanctuary of Saint Malachy’s College in Belfast. Remarkably, Charlie stressed that it was the CDF, not his office, which launched the vendetta against Flannery and four other Irish theological writers. He displayed American amnesia that ex-President Mary McAleese pleaded with him to promote, not punish, Flannery. Nor did Brown show any sign of realising the enormity of Mother Church’s defeat in the marriage equality referendum in May.   
Without mentioning Eamon Gilmore who closed the Embassy to the Holy See, the New Yorker waxed eloquent about how Emma Madigan, Ireland’s “incredibly competent” envoy to the reopened embassy is “doing an amazing job” and is “well-liked by everyone, including the pope.”
Amazingly, Brown gave no update on what he prematurely revealed last year – Pope Francis is likely to make a short visit to Ireland next year. Is that what Emma is chatting to Francis about and was this why Brown was in Rome for high level talks in May. Is a planned papal visit in 2016 – the first since John Paul II in 1979 – on the cards and is that why Taoiseach Inda is rediscovering Catholic devotionalism at Knock Shrine in his shiny warden’s uniform along with his new best friend, Gov. Brown?
Hopefully, Francis is also sounding out Marie Collins, who is advising him as a leading member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, on how secular Ireland might not yet be ready to welcome him.