Priest urges bishops to act on ‘blight of censuring’


Outspoken priest Fr Tony Flannery, who was silenced by the Vatican in 2012, has challenged the Irish bishops to “get rid of the blight” of censuring clergymen.
He was responding to the news that the Vatican has lifted its sanctions against Fr Sean Fagan, following the intervention of Pope Francis and a letter written to the Pontiff by former Irish president Mary McAleese last December.

Sanctions were imposed on Fr Fagan (86), a member of the Marist Order, by the Vatican in 2008 due to his contentious views on sexual morality, as set out in his 2008 book, ‘Whatever Happened to Sin’.

The head of his order, Marist Superior General Fr John Hannan, on Monday confirmed the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith had removed the threat to laicise Fr Fagan at Easter.

The Provincial of the Marists in Ireland, Fr David Corrigan, said that he is concerned for Fr Fagan’s “health and wellbeing.”

“Fr Sean is in very fragile health at the moment and in my opinion he is not served well at all by the recent publicity,” Fr Corrigan said.

Five Irish priests remain under Vatican censure: Frs Tony Flannery, Gerry Moloney, Owen O’Sullivan, Brian D’Arcy and Iggy O’Donovan.

Yesterday, Fr Flannery challenged the Irish bishops to state publicly whether or not they agreed with his suspension from the priesthood.

“If they don’t agree with it, then they need to exercise the authority they have to do something about it,” he told the Irish Independent.

He said he hoped for a stronger involvement of Irish bishops and the authorities in his Redemptorist religious order in resolving his situation. “I have been very disappointed with the lack of any type of support from the Irish hierarchy.”

He said that under Pope Francis’ leadership, he believed “the bishops are now in a position where they could lift all sanctions against all of us if they chose to do so”.


The Association of Catholic Priests, which represents over 1,000 Irish priests, also believes a “concerted effort by the religious orders, supported by the Irish bishops, could lead to the lifting of similar restrictions” on other members of the ACP who have been censured.

Speaking on RTE’s ‘Morning Ireland’ yesterday, ACP spokesman Fr Sean McDonagh described the treatment of Fr Sean Fagan as “absolutely diabolical”. He added: “I would like to see the ban lifted on everybody, but especially Fr Tony Flannery.”

Fr McDonagh called on Irish bishops to set up a process whereby complaints against priests could be dealt with locally in the Irish church.

Irish Independent