Banned Redemptorist priest Fr Tony Flannery (73) has declined a Vatican offer of a return to ministry if he promised silence and and signed statements on church teachings.
The offer made by Rome in July would have involved signing documentsasserting church teaching on women priests, homosexuality, same sex marriage, and gender theory
Co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, Fr Flannery was suspended in 2012 from public ministry by the Vatican for publicly expressing support for women’s ordination and same sex marriage as well as more liberal views on homosexuality.
Last February the Redemptorists’ Superior General in Rome Michael Brehl wrote to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) making representations for Fr Flannery’s return to public ministry. It , in turn, followed correspondence with him last year by the Redemptorists’ leadership in Ireland.
They did so as, under the leadership of Pope Francis, issues such as the equality and ordination of women are now freely discussed in the Church as is a more compassionate and nuanced approach to homosexuality.
The CDF responded that “Fr Flannery should not return to public ministry prior to submitting a signed statement regarding his positions on homosexuality, civil unions between persons of the same sex, and the admission of women to the priesthood.”
It said “the Irish Provincial should ask Fr Flannery to give his assent to the statement by providing his signature in each of the places indicated (enclosure).” This latter referred to separate statements asserting church teaching in each relevant area with space for Fr Flannery to sign his assent.
The CDF response continued: “After the statement is signed and received, a gradual readmission of Fr Flannery to the exercise of public ministry will be possible by way of an agreement with this Congregation. Furthermore, given the fact that he has stated numerous times that he is not a theologian, he should be asked to not speak publically on the above-mentioned topics which have caused problems in the past.”
As well as signing separate statements on each issue, Fr Flannery was also asked to sign an additional paragraph which stated “I, Fr Tony Flannery C.Ss.R, submit to all of the above doctrinal propositions given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as they pertain to the Church’s teaching on the: 1. Reservation of the sacred priesthood to men alone; 2. The moral liceity of homosexual practices; 3. The legal recognition of marriage between persons of the same sex; and 4. ‘Gender Theory’.”
Responding to the CDF document, Fr Flannery said he was “not surprised, but disappointed and saddened” by it. “In my view it is a document that, both in tone and content, would be more at home in the 19th century. I could not possibly sign those propositions.”
The issue of equality, and ordination, of women “is now freely discussed in the Church,” he said, and that he was “on record for many years now in supporting, indeed emphasizing the necessity, of full equality for women, including ordination. How could I possibly sign that first proposition.”
The same applied to “ official Church language on homosexuality and homosexual relationships,” which he described as “appalling. I could not submit to it. As regards same sex marriage, I voted in favour of it. I don’t know enough about Gender Theory to have any strong views on it, and I don’t know where that one came from.”
He felt this was “the end of the line in terms of priestly ministry for me. I could not possibly have any more dealings with a body that produces such a document. Life is too short – especially at 73”.
Next month Fr Flannery’s latest book ‘From the Outside; Rethinking Church Doctrine’ will be published.
Leading Ukrainian religious figure Patriarch Filaret has contracted coronavirus, after blaming gay people for the disease.
The 91-year-old, who is the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate, is currently in a stable condition being treated in hospital, with Ukrainian website 11.2 international also reporting he has pneumonia.
Filaret’s church, which is said to have more than 15 million followers among Ukraine’s 42 million population, confirmed the COVID-19 diagnosis in a Facebook post.
“We inform that during planned testing, His Holiness Patriarch Filaret of Kiev and All Rus-Ukraine tested positive for COVID-19,” the statement said. “Now His Holiness Bishop is undergoing treatment at a hospital.”
Filaret caused controversy earlier this year after he made comments about the coronavirus being a result of gay marriage.
He told Ukrainian national TV network Channel 4 in March that the pandemic was “God’s punishment for the sins of men, the sinfulness of humanity”.
“First of all, I mean same-sex marriage,” Filaret added.
Kiev-based LGBTQ+ group Insight announced in April it was taking legal action against Filaret, saying his comments were damaging for the gay and lesbian community.
“Our aim is to show people that there is no longer place for such statements from church leaders in Ukraine,” Insight’s head Olena Shevchenko told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Filaret was joined by a chorus of other prominent religious figures around the world who believe the coronavirus is “divine intervention” in response to the emergence of gay and lesbian rights.
The World Health Organisation has since urged against the spread of such misinformation, saying in a statement that these beliefs spark “stigmatisation and discrimination”.
But Filaret doubled down on his comments, with representatives for the Patriarch saying his views were “consistent with Ukrainian laws”.
Homophobia is still rife in the Ukraine, with same-sex marriage being illegal.
The Ukrainian Parliament refused to back a Council of Europe human rights treaty aimed at protecting women from domestic violence in 2016, because its references to sexual orientation and gender violated what politicians believed were basic “Christian values”.
Nolan requested that Smolenski, who presides over Grand Rapids’ 63rd District Court, abide by the teachings of the Roman Catholic church and not take communion because she is married to a woman. Some churches have taken similar action against leaders who support abortion rights.
“It felt like being invited to someone’s house for dinner, but you can’t eat the food,” Smolenski said.
After local media covered her marriage to Linda Burpee, Smolenski did not expect her sexual orientation to be an issue in her home parish. During an interview with WOOD-TV, Nolan said Catholic teaching gave him no choice in making his decision.
Since that phone call, Smolenski’s story of discrimination reached local and national media outlets. She also faced responses from people who accused her of going to the media.
“I never called the media, but when they reached out, I chose to speak out,” Smolenski said.
In response to Nolan’s decision, some parishioners wrote a letter urging the community to write to Grand Rapids Bishop David Walkowiak and Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron.
“The St. Stephen community is experiencing a crisis of leadership involving selective discrimination against gay parishioners … these acts have been destructive to the culture of inclusion and diversity that are hallmarks of St. Stephen,” the letter read.
Smolenski said there were other parishioners who didn’t question the incident. St. Stephens also kept mailing parish contribution envelopes to Smolenski’s home, even after she and her spouse stopped attending mass. Nolan didn’t respond to a request for comment for the story.
“For months, I was so sad,” Smolenski said. “I’m still very sad about it. I stopped going to St. Stephens because it makes me feel too sad. Then I became angry. Now I think I’m past the anger because I know that’s not how all priests feel.”
When Fountain Street Church’s Minister for Spiritual Life and Learning, the Rev. Christopher Roe, first heard about Smolenski’s story last year, he responded with grief and sadness.
“I found it so disappointing that someone would experience such discrimination in their spiritual home,” Roe said. “I’m not Catholic, but I understand Catholics to be deeply rooted in tradition; it’s embedded in your identity and your family’s identity.”
Roe also reflected on the vulnerability and ripple effects of someone in the public sphere experiencing discrimination because of their identity.
“For anyone who has experienced any kind of trauma in their life, there are different things that can trigger it. With Sara’s situation, whether you’re Catholic or not, I think it stirred up a lot of trauma, specifically experiences of rejection or discrimination, for a lot of people in our church and the spiritual community,” Roe said.
As much as the last six months have dampened her spirits, Smolenski’s faith remains unshaken. Depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, when churches begin opening their doors again, she is unsure about what church she will call home.
Despite the Catholic church’s theological understanding that same-sex marriages live in opposition of biblical teachings, Smolenski continued attending the church she was baptized and raised in because it fit for her.
“I grew up in that church. It helped form my faith. I never had a priest tell me I wasn’t welcome or could not be a part of the church because of I was gay,” Smolenski asserted.
This incident also further solidified her doubts regarding the Catholic church’s institutional view on who is worthy of communion and by extension, God’s love.
“It’s not perfect; I’m not perfect,” Smolenski said. “When that priest told me I couldn’t have communion, I really felt like I knew what discrimination meant. It becomes personal when someone says you aren’t welcome.”
As a Catholic, Smolenski chooses to believe in the Christian teachings that God does not make mistakes and Jesus loves and accepts all people, regardless of sexual orientation, race, or background.
“I’m not ashamed of who I am; I’m proud. Jesus doesn’t make mistakes, so none of us were born as mistakes,” Smolenski said.
Though hurt by the incident, Smolenski felt encouraged by the support from her community and across the country. She even received an invitation from a Catholic church in Ireland.
“A man named Angus from Ireland wrote me a letter telling me I was welcome to his village’s Catholic church anytime,” Smolenski said. “I kept a notebook full of hundreds of notes, emails and handwritten letters of support. They were so powerful.”
Today, Smolenski questions the Catholic church’s discrimination, arguing that it excludes God’s children from practicing their faith in their church community.
“How can this rule be applied so discriminately? Why are the rules different from one church to another, priest to priest,” Smolenski said.
Earlier this month, the Detroit Archdiocese fired Terry Gonda, St. John Fisher Catholic Church’s music director, for being married to a woman. According to the Detroit Free Press, her firing occurred nine days after the U.S. Supreme Court granted federal job protections for LGBTQ employees, although churches are exempt.
Given the increased progressive activism during the Trump era and the Black Lives Matter movement’s increased visibility, Smolenski reflected on her role in creating change and challenging institutional discrimination.
“We have to use our voice, especially white people, because that’s how change is going to happen with any form of discrimination,” she said. “We need to do what is right and I don’t think that’s what the Catholic church is doing.”
Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?
KNOW THE SIGNS: HOW TO TELL IF YOUR GRANDPARENT HAS BECOME AN ANTIFA AGENT
For your birthday, she knits you an unwanted scarf. To be used as a balaclava?
She belongs to a decentralized group with no leadership structure that claims to be discussing a “book,” but no one ever reads the book and all they seem to do is drink wine.
Is always talking on the phone with an “aunt” you have never actually met in person. Aunt TIFA????
Always walking into rooms and claiming not to know why he walked into the room. Likely.
He “trips” over and breaks your child’s Lego police station when walking through the living room in the dark.
Total and bewildering lack of nostalgia for good old days.
Gathers with loose-knit, disorderly group of figures you have never met to play “mah-jongg,” governed by mysterious “rule cards” issued annually from a nebulous central authority.
Suddenly, for no reason, will appear or pretend to be asleep.
Insists on producing container of nuts whenever there is company. Why? Code of some kind?
Carries peppermints (chemical irritant?) in purse at all times.
Is taking Centrum Silver. But for what reason? Surely to build up strength for the coming confrontation.
Keeps forwarding you what appear on the surface to be emails of jokes someone has typed out from a Reader’s Digest; claims to think you would “enjoy”; must be some sort of recruitment or propaganda or hidden message.
Hired a clown for your child’s birthday — part of the Juggalo command structure?
Big tin of Christmas popcorn mysteriously replenishes itself. WHO IS HELPING?!
You gave her a Precious Moments figurine of a law enforcement officer, but she hasn’t displayed it.
Remembers things from the past in incredible, exhausting detail, but recent ones only sporadically? Cover of some kind.
She claims not to know how to use her phone, yet always appears upside-down on FaceTime, which should be impossible without hacking capabilities.
If he is to be believed, he spends hours playing bridge.
He is walking non-threateningly at a public protest.
A months-long standoff between a Catholic bishop in Virginia and a priest who blogs frequent, strident criticism of the church’s handling of clergy sexual abuse has boiled over, with the diocese suspending the priest from ministry and changing parish and residence locks where he was assigned, the priest said Saturday.
The Rev. Mark White, who has been assigned to two southwest Virginia parishes, had refused to leave the church properties despite a trespass order, saying Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout is the one violating canon law by not giving more details about what Knestout considers White’s wrongdoing and by not waiting for an appeal to the Vatican to play out.
White Saturday blogged that the diocese changed the locks on the two parishes — St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount — and on one of the residences. The two parishes are half-English, half-Spanish and have about 400 families each, he said. White was pastor to the two parishes from 2011 until April 13, when Knestout ordered him transferred to prison ministry in the midst of their conflict. White told The Post he is waiting for the appeal and is not leaving.
The diocese’s spokeswoman couldn’t be reached immediately for comment Sunday.
The dispute between the two men has been watched by the hundreds and sometimes thousands who read White’s blog, which is a mix of homilies and spiritual musings and frequent lambasting of church officials from Knestout to Pope Francis to disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who ordained White in May 2003.
While a priest being removed by a bishop isn’t unusual, the White-Knestout standoff taps into remaining deep mistrust and anger over the McCarrick scandal and how few bishops and cardinals have been held accountable for his long rise — particularly those who have worked along the New York-New Jersey-Washington, D.C. corridor where rumors of McCarrick’s sexual misbehavior percolated for decades.
The case also reflects the challenge posed to the world’s largest church — one accustomed to tight, top-down control — by the power of social media. The Vatican is increasingly calling social media an essential part of ministry and evangelization, but metrics of what is effective vs. what is divisive are growing more subjective. White had paused his blog last fall at Knestout’s order but restarted it in March because of the coronavirus shutdown, saying online ministering is crucial while parishes and Mass are shut off.
“I can’t recall a case when a pastor was removed because he was blogging,” said Kurt Martens, a canon law expert at Catholic University. “Blogging is a new way of ministry, so how do you stop a priest?”
At the time of White’s ordination, Knestout was priest-secretary to McCarrick. White argues that Catholic Church leaders haven’t come fully clean on what they knew about McCarrick, a former D.C. archbishop and towering leader in the U.S. church until 2018, when he was accused of sexual misconduct with young boys, seminarians and young priests. McCarrick was later defrocked, and it’s become clear that top leaders at least knew of the misconduct and abuse-of-power allegations involving adults who worked under McCarrick. A Vatican report into McCarrick’s career and how he rose to the top amid such complaints is pending.
White’s blog includes items on the role of redemption, St. Paul’s writings and the importance of keeping up spiritual training during quarantine, as well as many posts focused on the hierarchy’s actions as it pertains to clergy sexual abuse. He calls Knestout’s office “opaque” and says on the topic of sexual abuse it puts out “morale-sapping groupthink propaganda.” Bishops who don’t demand details about McCarrick from the Vatican are “feminized cowards.” His home archdiocese — of Washington — is an “edifice of lies.”
Knestout, offering a rare public explanation by a bishop, wrote a letter to parishioners in March that was published in the Martinsville Bulletin newspaper. In it he said White “has worked against the unity of the Church, promoted disrespect for the Holy Father, the Church hierarchy, his bishop, and has demonstrated a will adverse to obedience to the bishop of his diocese, which he took an oath to uphold at his ordination.”
But White, his church lawyer and some parishioners say White is the one promoting unity by pressing for justice and transparency and that Knestout is the one being divisive.
Priests are obliged to work for the “building up of the body of Christ,” concurs a March 27 letter from canon lawyer Michael Podhajsky to Knestout. “In fact, the very blog posts Your Excellency will later criticize were written with this very purpose in mind.”
The Wednesday suspension from ministry and Thursday trespass order are the apex of tension for two men who crossed paths uneventfully in D.C. nearly two decades ago.
White, who grew up in Northwest D.C., began his blog in 2008 and posted apparently without controversy until 2018, after the McCarrick scandal broke.
The revelations “completely threw me and changed my point of view on everything,” White told The Post. “All the outstanding cases, that victims weren’t accommodated, cases were shelved and treated as statistics — it all started to dawn on me.”
In a letter to the Richmond Diocese in July 2018, Knestout laid out the time the two men worked together and wrote that while he was in D.C., “I can tell you I was not approached by anyone with any allegations or evidence of sexual harassment or abuse involving the Cardinal.”
In the fall of 2019, Knestout ordered White to stop blogging or he would be suspended. In late November, White shut down the site.
The two men met twice about the conflict, White says — in November and February — but no agreement was reached. White says the bishop would not be specific about what posts were problematic and in what way. Knestout responded through his spokeswoman, Deborah Cox, who pointed The Post to some of White’s posts most confrontational and critical of church leadership.
Once the coronavirus shutdown began, White appealed to reopen his blog as a way to communicate with the parishioners he could no longer see. He says Knestout was unresponsive, and the bishop says his efforts to communicate with White were rebuffed. Without explicit permission, White restarted the blog.
Tensions continued, and in March the bishop wrote the letter to parishioners explaining his displeasure with his priest.
“From the beginning it has been my desire that Father White’s ministry in the diocese would be fruitful and effective, and that he provide that ministry as a happy and healthy priest. … This ministry is needed even more during a time of distress for so many of our people.”
In April, Knestout announced he was transferring White to prison ministry, but White has refused to leave.
Last week Knestout announced he was suspending the priest’s permission to operate his ministry in the diocese and sent White a trespass warning. Cox would not say explicitly why, calling it a personnel issue, but Podhajsky said it was because White had not moved to his new assignment.
Irma Harrison, second vice chair of the parish council at St. Joseph, said the parishes are strongly behind White. With the pandemic keeping them apart and Mass suspended, the removal of the priest to the communities is “devastating,” she said.
“Father Mark is a good pastor, a good man, and the bishop is not being adult about this,” she said. Of the pastor’s blog posts, she said he “was just speaking truth about the lack of transparency about sexual abuse, and he stepped on a few toes.”