My Message to Pope Francis

When An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, visited Pope Francis recently he agreed to take a message from me to the Pope.
Below is the text of what I sent to Pope Francis:

Your Holiness, Pope Francis,

Since 1994, the credibility of the Catholic Church in Ireland has been severely damaged due to the clerical sexual abuse problems. This led to many people, even committed Catholics, asking serious questions about the structure and practices of our Church, and the reasons why Church authorities failed to deal properly with the emerging scandal. Six Irish priests who sought in their writings to examine these questions were censored by the CDF since 2006. (One priest is since deceased and received a limited degree of “pardon” from the CDF at a time in his life when he was too ill to comprehend what was happening.) Two of these priests are public figures, namely, Fr. Brian D’Arcy C.P. and myself, Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss.R. I have been most severely censored, as I am forbidden to minister publicly as a priest.
The main concern for all of us who have been censored by the CDF is the failure of that body to act in accordance with the principles of natural justice:
We were accused and judged to be in error before we had any knowledge that a case was being prepared against us.
All condemnatory messages and proposed punishments were communicated to us indirectly, through our religious superiors. We were never given the dignity of being addressed directly.
We were not given any opportunity to explain or defend our positions, or to put them into the context of the situation in which they were written.
We were not informed as to the identity of the people who made complaints about us to the CDF.
We did not have any opportunity to cross examine our accusers.
Some of us have spoken and written in public about our experience and many practicing Catholics express disillusionment about the capacity of the Catholic Church to uphold social justice, given how it treats its own priests.
When the Irish Catholic Hierarchy or the Papal Nuncio are questioned on our situation, they say that they are helpless to intervene and that it is strictly a matter for our Religious superiors, even though there is clear documentary evidence to show that our superiors acted always under orders from the CDF.
We hope, in view of your proposed visit to our country, that our situations might be looked at in a new and more just fashion.

With great respect, and appreciation for all you are doing to renew our Church.

Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss.R. (00353876814699)