We Are Church Ireland vigil to protest against silencing of priestsMonday, April 23rd, 2012
The group, We are Church Ireland, is to hold a silent vigil outside the Apostolic Nunciature next weekend in protest at the silencing of a number of Irish priests.
At a press conference in Dublin on Friday, the lay group, which has over 200 members, said the silent vigil would take place on Sunday April 29. Participants will don gags to symbolise the action taken by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith against priests such as Redemptorists Fr Tony Flannery, Fr Gerry Moloney, Marist Fr Sean Fagan, Capuchin Fr Owen O’Sullivan and others.
We Are Church Ireland spokesperson, Brendan Butler, said they want to express their “solidarity with our silenced priests.” He said the group wants to acknowledge the courage and integrity of Fr Sean Fagan, who has allowed the circumstances surrounding his silencing imposed by the Vatican to come into the public domain.
The press conference at Buswell’s Hotel was addressed by theologian Gina Menzies, who is a lecturer in medical ethics at the Royal College of Surgeons and a personal friend of Fr Fagan’s.
Last weekend it was revealed that Fr Fagan, who is a moral theologian, was disciplined by the CDF in March 2010 and ordered not to write books or articles again or comment in the media on pain of dismissal from the priesthood if he breached the CDF’s terms.
In July 2004, the Irish Bishops issued a Notification on Recent Developments in Moral Theology and their Implications for the Church and Society in which they described, Does Morality Change? by Fr Fagan as containing a number of theological errors. The Marist’s three books, Has Sin Changed? Does Morality Change? and, What Happened to Sin? have sold 73,600 copies worldwide.
We Are Church Ireland has criticised the lack of due process and secrecy exercised by the CDF, describing its actions as “unacceptable in our age.”
The group told ciNews that it intends to mobilise lay people in defence of priests, who out of love for the Church and a desire to see the Church continuing to be relevant, have called for change and discussion on a number of issues.
Brendan Butler added, “The only good that has come out of the revelation of the silencing of Tony Flannery, Sean Fagan, Gerry Maloney and Owen O Sullivan is that finally the secrecy that has enveloped the processes involved in silencing priests has come into the public domain and has shocked very many Catholics.”
Speaking of Fr Sean Fagan, he said the 84-year-old, “has suffered greatly since he was officially silenced on March 1 2010, when he was formally bound by his vow of obedience neither to publish or speak his views nor to inform the media of the disciplinary procedures taken against him.”
“If he broke these disciplinary actions his priestly faculties would be withdrawn together with his dismissal from religious life of the Marist order,” Mr Butler explained.
“Fr Sean out of love for his order and priesthood formally accepted these conditions,” Mr Butler said and that as a result his health had deteriorated.
“Fr Sean’s life was shattered by this experience but his very many friends have been loyal to him over these difficult years,” Brendan Butler said.
by Sarah Mac Donald