Crux: Threatened with Excommunication, Tony Flannery holds firm to his beliefs

Threatened with Excommunication, Tony Flannery holds firm to his beliefs

[this interview was conducted just prior to Fr. Flannery’s visit to Syracuse]


Margery Eagan, spirituality columnist, is a writer and commentator on current affairs.

October 29, 2014

Tony Flannery has done what few of us could. He sacrificed his career and his passion for his principles. It’s been anything but easy.

All four of the Galway Flannerys joined religious orders. The three priests and one nun were the children of an ambitious Irish mother who well understood that an affordable religious education was her best hope of saving them from poverty.

“So I was third on the conveyor belt,” says Flannery, now 67, who grew up to love his Catholic faith, his Church, and his work as a Redemptorist preacher traveling from Irish parish to Irish parish holding revivals to renew that faith. He would have celebrated 50 years in religious life this year, save for this: For years now, he has very publicly spoken out against the Church’s stands on the origins of the priesthood, ordaining women to it, contraception, and gays – some of the same issues cardinals debated and commented on publicly at the synod in Rome.


Upstate NY CTA welcomes Fr. Tony Flannery in Syracuse

The Catholic Tipping Point Tour made a wonderful stop in Syracuse Wednesday evening, October 29th.  With approximately 175 people attending, Fr. Flannery spoke to CTA members, Faithful Catholics Concerned (Syr.), Women’s Ordination Conference and friends many of whom had travelled from Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton and Albany for the important talk. 


Fr. Flannery prior to the talk


Fr. Tony Flannery related his experience of the past two years when the superior of the Redemptorist Order called him to advise that he had secretly been investigated by Rome (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and he would have to answer charges against him.  He was also told to maintain absolute secrecy about the matter.  The entire account is related in his book A Question of Conscience which is now available.



Fr. Flannery also mentioned his pleasant surprise in meeting so many organizations for Church Reform in the U.S.   “What if,” he  said “the Church Reform groups all joined in a voice together to urge open discussion on the topics brought to the surface in the Synod on Families.”  This would lead to further participation when the Synod convenes again in fall of 2015.  “Change,” he insisted “comes from the bottom up.”