Rhona Tarrant | May 10 2016
If you were to choose a venue for a public talk with Father Tony Flannery, a Redemptorist priest, the old, disused courthouse in the town of Dingle, County Kerry is as apt as any. Flannery sits at a table by the witness stand to speak about 100 years of the church in Ireland during the Feile no Bealthaine, an annual weekend festival held in the town. But he never gets around to that; the public are far too curious about Flannery and the public and personal trials he has faced since 2012.
It’s been four years since he was “silenced” by the Vatican, with his subsequent struggle detailed at length in newspapers, on radio shows and in his own tell-all book. By his own admission, some of his supporters feel the story has been exhausted. Even so, Flannery still manages to draw a crowd.
Since his suspension from public ministry, Flannery has dedicated his energy to speaking out about the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican body responsible for investigating priests. Flannery was back in the news last month when he joined with 14 other Catholic sisters, priests and lay people, all of whom had been investigated by the C.D.F., to write the Vatican. Spurred on by the release of “Amoris Laetitia,” they argued that the C.D.F. “doesn’t reflect the gospel values of justice, truth, integrity and mercy that the Catholic Church professes to uphold.” The letter was sent to the C.D.F. and Pope Francis, as well as the media.