Father Flannery told TheJournal.ie that the Vatican has contacted him to inform him of the investigation.
- “We cannot have any event (the Eucharistic Congress) dominated by a phalanx of mitre-wearing bishops surrounded by large groups of clergy.”
Father Tony Flannery, a Catholic priest who has been outspoken in his criticism of the abuse crisis in Ireland, has found himself under investigation by the Vatican for his liberal views.
Father Flannery is to cease writing his monthly column in the Redemptionist Reality magazine. Well, well, well – I find it rather ironic that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome that has expressed disquiet about some of his articles and publications, did not have anything to say about the Irish Times Rite and Reason article that Father Tony Flannery wrote in August of 2006 where he said
Is it not strange that we are devoting so much energy to inquiring into the abuse of children half a century ago when there is so much that is unsavoury in the lives of children today,“
How come this view and others pertaining to said abuse in the article [printed in full below photo of priest] did not come under the Vatican radar? Then again, institutional child abuse was/is a ducking and diving game played expertly by the church. It’s such a pity that it did not take precedence and come under scrutiny more quickly than it did with the Vatican. Survivors had to go screaming and roaring to the church and the Vatican to be heard.
Suffer Little Children to come Unto me. What a load of baloney. Children in the past at Goldenbridge were kept hidden away with index fingers held on lips. They were sat on wee plastic potties till their entrails came falling out. They simply had to keep quiet about it as adults. The church tried to suppress them all it could. Now it has the audacity to investigate same priest, who moaned about those survivors, for views held on artificial birth control/women priests, etc. The same church that did not give a damn about babies and toddlers who were incarcerated for generations in industrial ‘schools’. So utterly hypocritical.
Last year, Father Flannery welcomed Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s hard hitting criticism of the Church’s decades long mishandling of the child sex abuse scandals in Ireland.
He jumps from one camp into another. Yes, you find his kind in all walks of life! Especially when they’re trying to sell books.
The pope is worried about theology of sexuality! Well – maybe he should be more worried about the theology of children, the theology of love; the theology of abuse and the theology of real life. Most importantly too the theology of getting its own house in order before it points the finger at the servants and everyone else.
Rite and Reason: Is it not strange that we are devoting so much energy to inquiring into the abuse of children half a century ago when there is so much that is unsavoury in the lives of children today, asks Fr Tony Flannery. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse looked a serious and formidable gathering in the brief shot on RTÉ’s Nine O’clock News a few months back, as they inquired into treatment of children at a Newtownforbes orphanage in the 1940s. Apparently the children were poorly fed and subject to physical abuse in those years. The Sisters of Mercy, who ran the orphanage, apologised yet again for their failures of the past. If we had enough inquiries we would discover that there was a lot of hunger and physical abuse, suffered by the children of Ireland in those far distant war years. The stories from the orphanages could be replicated in many homes and schools of the time. A great deal of apologising would need to be done. Two disturbing reports in relation to current abuse of children were made public recently. We had the Prime Time investigation of the sex trade in Ireland. It would appear to be thriving in most of our cities, and many of those exploited are adolescent girls and boys from eastern Europe. It made for unpleasant viewing, and I was surprised at the relatively limited reaction to it in the following days. The second report was into personnel from various NGO and UN agencies working in Liberia and other African countries. Apparently some of them are exploiting the local children for sex. The report did not point at Irish people, but since we are noted for the numbers of NGOs and UN people we send to Africa, I was surprised that it did not get more notice and response here. After all we have been through in recent years we should be sufficiently realistic to suspect that if this abuse is going on, Irish people are as likely to be involved as anyone else. There are other ways in which children are neglected in modern Ireland. The lifestyle forced on many young parents makes it almost impossible for them to give sufficient time and attention to the rearing of their children. Because of the enormous price they have to pay for their house, they are burdened by a mortgage that makes it essential that both parents continue to work outside the home, and the child is very often left in a crèche from early morning till late evening, five days a week. What the long-term effect of this on our children will be can only be guessed at. The debate on that continues. Our modern lifestyle is also putting great stress on marriage. More and more marriages are splitting up, and new relationships being formed. As a consequence some children have to deal with a number of different adults acting in the role of parent during their upbringing. This must be very confusing, and again its long-term effects will only become apparent later. Another difficulty with children nowadays is that they are sexualised at a young age. It is not uncommon to have children’s discos at First Communion time. Little girls who receive this sacrament are becoming like mini brides, with the hair-dos, the manicures and the fake tans. Apart from the materialism that is directly contrary to the meaning of Eucharist, these girls are being given a message that how we look defines who we are, and we wonder why teenage girls sometimes become anorexic. Today’s parents are the first generation in this country who, in many instances, can give their children whatever they ask for in material goods. If they feel guilty for not spending enough time with them, there is a great temptation to shower them with possessions instead. Grandparents can be also to blame here. Indulging their grandchildren is easy and tempting for them, too. As a consequence children are growing up without ever coming to know how to wait for anything. In this they are failing to learn what is possibly the most important lesson for life – the ability to say “no” to ourselves.How will they manage when life, as it does, presents them with situations in which they cannot have everything they want? The high suicide rates and the prevalence of binge drinking are indications that all is not well with our young people. The common assumption today is that the experience of sexual abuse does almost irreparable damage to a child, which will impact on their whole life. It would appear to be classified as the worst form of abuse. But can we be sure of that? How does one measure the damage done to a child by one form of neglect or abuse more than another? Does it strike anybody that it is a bit strange that we are devoting so much time, money and energy to inquiring into the abuse of children half a century ago when there is so much that is unsavoury in the lives of children today? The other obvious anomaly, beginning to be highlighted by some commentators, is that all the inquiries are into the behaviour of Catholic Church institutions and people, even though their abuse, dreadful as it was, is only a tiny fraction of all the abuse of children that happened in the past.From where I stand it seems that we are taking the easy way out on two counts. It is much simpler to delve into the failures of the past than the present. As a society we still have an adolescent obsession with the Catholic Church, even though its traditional power has long since been eroded. It is much more fun to keeping kicking the church than to face the real problems of today. Fr Tony Flannery is a Redemptorist priest and columnist with Reality. His book Keeping the Faith was published last year. The Irish Times
”Is it not strange that we are devoting so much energy to inquiring into the abuse of children when there is so much that is unsavoury today”?
“Is it not strange that we are devoting so much energy to inquiring into the abuse of children when there is so much that is unsavoury today?”
“The Rev. Sean McDonagh, a leader of the Association of Irish Priests, which formed last year after the reports were published, suggested that to get at the root of the problem, the team of investigators “should begin by scrutinizing Rome’s own handling of sex-abuse allegations.”
Father Sean McDonagh, Society of St. Columban Fathers (SSC) should also look to some of the priests within the newly formed Irish priests association to get to the nub of the grossly biased thinking on child abuse that they hold, specifically regarding child institutional child abuse.
For example, I read in the Irish Times, Monday, September 6 2010 that Father Flannery was part of the association. I once had a very grave reason for writing to the Irish Times.
The opening lines of letter went…
Following on from Father Tony Flannery’s article of Monday 7th August 2006.
Part of the headline stated:
“Is it not strange that we are devoting so much energy to inquiring into the abuse of children when there is so much that is unsavoury today?”
My answer – quite emphatically to this is no, no, no it isn’t strange in the least as to why so much energy is being presently concentrated on children who were after-all incarcerated in institutions at the pleasure of The Irish State.
The last three words being the operative words.
Children who were incarcerated into these institutions, namely, notorious Goldenbridge, Artane, and Letterfrack were systematically psychologically, emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually abused on a daily basis.
Father Tony Flannery, you are missing the point here. the State and the religious were utterly 100/% responsible for the children in their care.
To reiterate in order to spell out succinctly, the State acted in loco–parentis.
You also referred to Newtownforbes as being an orphanage.
I beg to differ. Goldenbridge, Newtownforbes and above mentioned child prisons were indeed Industrial ‘Schools’ not orphanages.
So stop using this euphemism.
The letter was never published in the paper, so I wrote personally to Father Tony Flannery. I never got a reply.
These are the priests who want to get to the root of the child abuse and they haven’t even got the decency to deal with someone who was habitually on the receiving end of institutional child abuse.
I certainly hope he learned his lesson from reading what the author Russell Shorto of the article called the so-called report.
Letter written Irish Times in 2006.
To: Geraldine Kennedy,
Editor: you never seem to publish letters from ordinary people such as myself who were in institutions as children.
What is your reason for our exclusion?
We never received proper education in these institutions and it took some of us a lifetime to learn literary skills.
We certainly do not need to be knocked for two anymore by learned people such as yourself.
I wonder… have these omissions possibly anything got to do with your affiliation to the PDs?
The Irish Times does not mainly – or fairly speak survivors of my ilk – who spent our whole childhoods’ in institutions.
We are the ones who have been mostly bypassed by the last government, the church, and prominent survivor groups, hence our enragement and desperate need to express ourselves in high profile situations.
If we were recognised by the church, the high profile survivors and the government, we wouldn’t have the need to continually hijack publicity stunt agendas.
If indeed they were genuine there would be all inclusiveness and dialogue between church and ALL survivors not ONLY the crème de la crème survivors.
Isn’t it about time that the high profile survivors passed on their brotherly/sisterly love to those who are not perched on high in government funded ivory tower seats.
The same priest who did not even bother to acknowledge a letter from a survivor of institutional child abuse is probably all upset now that he is effectively being silenced by the Vatican. My heart sincerely goes out to him. However, what goes around comes around.
I commented at the Association of Irish Priests blog. It has gone into moderation. I don’t expect it to be accepted, despite not being out of order in any way. So, just in case, I’ll paste it here for future reference.
- Marie-Therese O’Loughlin Your comment is awaiting moderation.
April 9th, 2012 at 1:07 pm. I just posted a comment. Alas, it disappeared into oblivion. It may be that it got gobbled up owing to an added link. So here, I’ll go again and try to add my penny-farthings worth minus the link to see if it will solve the problem. However, it can be viewed at link attached to my name. So no worries on that score. @Annraoi O’Diothaigh April 8th, 2012 at 4:03 pm. I was thoroughly impressed with your observations. The church indeed has been very good at silencing survivors that it feels it must silence in order to try to save face. The pope tries to silence ‘his’ priest servants. Then the priest servants in turn do the pope’s work by trying to silence survivors of clerical and institutional abuse. They seemingly got away with it in the past and old habits die hard. The church is expert at silencing and hoodwinking those it deems are a threat to its very existence. Father Tony Flannery, how about replying to a comment you made in 2006 about child institutional abuse survivors? For more details refer to link attached to my name here. It’s better late than never. If you want sympathy from survivors for the present predicament that you find yourself in, you have to be prepared to afford survivors the same dignity by not ignoring them, again. As it too can be just as bad as silencing. I know a shut mouth gathers no flies, but an open one can oftentimes be respected, if it appears to be trying to make an effort, irrespective of past blunders. Thanking you in advance. I abhor what is presently occurring to you. I appreciate the stand you are taking. I wish you only the best in the future.
I’ll leave with some lasting words by Colm Kelpie.
“Many of us priests are very frustrated with the way the Vatican conducts its business.”
- “To hear someone in the position of the Taoiseach speak so strongly, so eloquently, and with such dignity, in challenging the Vatican was good.”
- “Many reforms are needed in the church, and there is little or no discussion allowed at any level.”
I tried to post this comment at Andrew’s Rugged Wagon, but has difficulty, so will post it here.
Andrew – I’m so thoroughly glad to know that you felt the same way about the damning Rite and Reason article way back then in 2006. I was so livid upon reading it, that I too wrote a letter to the Irish Times, and it refused to publish same. I also wrote to Geraldine Kennedy in the aftermath giving out yards to her for not allowing a right of reply. It went on deaf ears as per usual. The media only wanted to listen to the self-appointed survivor voices that were moulded and shaped by the whole pathetic set-up in place. Individual institutional survivor voices like ours, were and still are, kept on the periphery. The media, the church; the government, the judiciary all seemingly appeared to want to box survivors together and listen only to representatives of survivors groups. There is evidence of this sort in abundance from survivors that I’ve listened to over the years.
It goes on ad infinitum. For example, I just recently posted a comment at the site of the association of priests – who are rightfully getting a raw deal from Rome. It was in connection with the aforesaid letter I sent in 2006 condemning him for the diabolical way he wrote about those of us who were cooped up in institutional care all our young lives. Unsurprisingly, it was deleted. See here: http://t.co/6tnY6nTs where I subsequently placed it, knowing only too well, that it would vanish into the thin blogosphere priestly air. It would perhaps be seen as off-topic? If that’s the case, they need to get their priorities right. I hope they don’t consider what’s happening to THEM is more important that issues of past institutional child abuse?
There appears to be double standards at play. I wish I were wrong in saying this, but nobody has come back to say that they got in wrong with publishing that article. Silence is golden.
The priests are infuriated at the way they are being treated for voicing their honest opinions about the church. Nonetheless, by the same token, Father Tony Flannery and his cohorts treat survivors of institutional abuse with distain, not only in what he wrote, but, also in the way that he refuses – even now, after all these years – to have an honest discussion pertaining to said article. I know that he has since spoken out favourably about child abuse, however, he has not addressed the important issues that you, Andrew, have so very eloquently outlined here, and of which I won’t even attempt to rehash upon, as you have said it all with such real conviction and clarity. Shame on the church. Shame on Father Tony Flannery and his side-kicks.