Recalling some details of my dispute with the CDF

Recently I had occasion to go back on the story of my dealings with the CDF over the past twelve years. Even though I was familiar with it all, and could remember the details clearly, reading again the two drafts of statements that were demanded from me by the CDF, and seeing what has been happening in the Church for the last few years with the Synodal Process, it all now seems so trivial, and so out of touch with the reality of the Church today; what was all the fuss about?

The first one comes from early Autumn of 2012. I had already sent a statement which had been well received by the then head of the CDF, William Levada, but the new man, Gerhard Meuller, sent the following demand:

Necessary Amendments to the Statement of Reverend Tony Flannery, CSsR

1. Regarding the Church,  Fr Flannery should add to his article that he believes that Christ instituted the Church with a permanent hierarchical structure.  Specifically, Fr Flannery should state that he accepts the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, as found in Lumen Gentium n. 9-22, that the bishops are the divinely established successors of the apostles who were appointed by Christ; that, aided by the Holy Spirit, they exercise legitimate power to sanctify, teach and govern the  people of God; that they constitute one episcopal college together with the Roman Pontiff; and that in virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal  power over the Church, which he is always free to exercise.

2. Regarding the Eucharist, Fr Flannery should add to his article that he believes that Christ instituted the priesthood at the Last  Supper; that in the Eucharist, under the forms of bread and wine, the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained; that the  Eucharist is a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross; and that only validly ordained priests can validly celebrated the Eucharist.

3. Regarding his statement concerning the priesthood, Fr Flannery should add to his article that  he accepts that the Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles and that the  apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry; and that the Church recognises herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself and for this reason the ordination of women is not possible.

4. Furthermore, Fr Flannery should state that he accepts the whole teaching of the Church, also in regard to moral issues.

Some years later, in 2020, when a further effort was being made to get the sanctions on me lifted, I got this demand from the then assistant head of the CDF, Giacomo Morandi.

This time it was not looking for a statement, but rather for me to sign my assent to his statements:

1. The Reservation of Priesthood to Men Alone: According to the Tradition and the doctrine of the Church incorporated in the Canon Law (c. 1024) a baptised male alone receives sacred ordination validly.

2. The Moral Liceity of Homosexual Practices: Since the homosexual practices are contrary to natural law and do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity, they are not approved by the moral teaching of the Catholic Church (cf. CCC2357).

3. The Institution of Marriage and Same-Sex Marriages: The Marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with  each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded  and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator (CCC 1660).  Other forms of union do not correspond to God’s plan for marriage and family.  Therefore, they are not allowed by the Catholic Church.

4. “Gender Theory”: Insofar as it contradicts the foundations of a genuine Christian anthropology, gender theory  is not accepted by Catholic teaching (cf. Congregation for Catholic Education, Male and Female He Created Them, nn. 2-4; 19-23)

These demands remain, as conditions for my return to ministry, and they are even more impossible for me to assent to now than they were when first received. In fact I think that, if these conditions were expected of clergy and laity generally in the Church, there would have to be a lot of suspensions.