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Famous Canon Law student slams Vatican for gag on priests

Mary McAleese, ex-President of Ireland, now studying Canon Law in Rome, has harsh words for the Church establishment.

  • Sarah MacDonald
  • Ireland
  • November 1, 2012
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Former president Mary McAleese has decried the Church’s treatment of five silenced priests, accusing Rome of operating through fear and imposing strictures on the clerics which "consume the truth".

Speaking at the launch of her book  Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law, the former head of state described Marist Fr Seán Fagan and Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery as "good men who have loved this Church with a passion". ??They were now living through a time when they were being asked whether they were "real Catholics" she said, a development she described as "dreadful".

"There is a fear at the centre [Rome] of how they can cope with these voices" she said.

Four of the five priests who have been investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith attended the launch: Frs Seán Fagan, Tony Flannery, Gerry Moloney and Brian D’Arcy.

Mrs McAleese, who is studying for a doctorate in canon law at Rome’s Gregorian University, rebuked the Church for its way of dealing with dissent, which she said was to "iterate the demand for obedience". ??She said this demand "was translated into a really, really dangerous silence where children suffered abominably". ??It may also have contributed to the terminal decline of the Church, she said, and added that it "certainly made the church very, very ill".

Earlier in her speech, she paid tribute to renowned Redemptorist Fr Alec Reid, who she described as "my great mentor and friend, a man from whom I’ve drawn the greatest inspiration over my life". She credited him with being "the true author of the peace process" in the North. ??Fr Reid was among hundreds of media, religious, and representatives of Northern Ireland’s cross-community initiatives and churches who attended the launch on Saturday.

Retired chief justice Ronan Keane launched the book at the Redemptorist centre in Rathgar, Dublin.

Mrs McAleese expressed regret that the hopes of Vatican II for better ecumenical relations amounted to nothing more than "a photocall". She made the comments in Rome recently when Anglican leader Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew of Constantinople, attended the opening Mass for the Year of Faith.

The Second Vatican Council placed a new emphasis on better relations between the churches, but Mrs McAleese decried the fact "nothing of substance" had translated into "lived communion" in the 50 years since.

Full Story: McAleese says Vatican silencing of priests is ‘consuming the truth’

Source: Irish Examiner
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