Pope Francis Personally Intervenes to Unmuzzle Dissenting Irish Priest

Unmuzzled: Dissenting Irish priest
Courtesy of The Irish Times

'Pope Francis is believed to have intervened directly with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to have all sanctions on silenced Irish priest Fr Sean Fagan (86) lifted.

It was confirmed to The Irish Times in Rome last night that Marist priest Fr Fagan, who has been subject to sanction by the Vatican for six years, is no longer so.

The superior general of the Marist congregation in Rome, Fr John Hannan, said last night that Fr Fagan is now “a priest in good standing” where the church is concerned.

It has also emerged that the change in Fr Fagan’s circumstances may have involved direct intervention by both Pope Francis and the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese. 

The Irish Times has learned that Mrs McAleese, who is away from Rome at the moment, wrote to Pope Francis last December requesting that he directly intervene where Fr Fagan’s case was concerned. Receipt of the letter was acknowledged by the Pope’s secretary. It is understood that the Marist congregation was informed of Fr Fagan’s changed situation at Easter.

Others understood to have been approached to intervene with the Vatican on Fr Fagan’s behalf include his own congregation, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, the papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and the former head of the Dominicans Fr Timothy Radcliffe.
For many years Fr Fagan, who has suffered ill health for some time, had been critical of rigid stances by the Vatican on issues to do with conscience and sexual morality notably in letters to this newspaper. In 2003 he published the book Does Morality Change? And in 2008 Whatever Happened to Sin?
 
In 2010 he was informed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he would be laicised should be write for publication any material it considered contrary to Church teaching and should he disclose this to media.

Remaining copies of his book were bought up by the Marist congregation whose website last night still carried a statement first posted in February of last year which reads that “ the writings of Fr. Sean Fagan in the book What Happened to Sin do not have the approval of or represent the views of the Society of Mary.

It was reported at the weekend that the CDF’s change of stance towards Fr Fagan was because “he loves the Church in spite of all its weaknesses: that he accepted his censure and observed his restrictions; and to his advanced age.” 

Welcoming the news the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) said in a statement yesterday that “it has been a source of great unease to our members and of continuing shame and embarrassment to our Church that a priest and theologian who has made such a huge contribution to Gospel and to Church over very many years would not be regarded as a priest ‘in good standing’.”

It said that “statements welcoming the lifting of restrictions on Fr Fagan by the Marist Order, the CDF and the Irish Catholic bishops are the least that might be expected.”

It also noted “that the decision of the CDF, according to reports, was influenced by pressure brought to bear through the efforts of friends.” It believed “that a concerted effort by the orders and congregations, supported by the Irish bishops, could lead to the lifting of similar restrictions on other members of the ACP colleagues of Fr Fagan, and from the Marist congregation.”


This was a reference to those other priests silenced by the Vatican, including Fr Tony Flannnery, Fr Gerard Moloney, Fr Brian D’Arcy, and Fr Owen O’Sullivan.'

Springtime indeed, but will such relaxation of censure for those who have difficulty being faithful to the Magisterium also be applied to the FFI? Family of the Franciscans of the Immaculate were assured by Pope Francis that they would be released 'from the tomb'. They were not given a deadline as to when but were told 'soon'. Let's hope the 'soon' is not quite in the same sense as the Lord's promise, 'I am coming soon', as while a thousand years are like a day to the Lord, it is not quite the same here for God's children suffering here on Earth.

Do say a prayer for Deacon Nick Donnelly, who has been ordered by his Bishop to close down the Protect the Pope blog, a reliable source of Catholic news, debate and commentary which defended the Papacy and the Magisterium. May God help Ireland to rediscover the glory of the One True Faith and may God have mercy on us all. Am I right in wondering whether there is no longer a need to 'recognise dissent for what it is'? Perhaps, if enough people write, Pope Francis will step in in this moment of mercy, this epoch of pastoral love and overturn Bishop Campbell's decision to order to closure of Deacon Nick's blog?

Comments

It has also emerged that the change in Fr Fagan’s circumstances MAY have involved direct intervention by both Pope Francis and the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese.

In other words speculation that Pope Francis had anything to do with this is just that: speculation.
tro said…
"They were not given a deadline as to when but were told 'soon'."

Which is Jesuit-speak for 'Get lost' :D
Lynda said…
Scandalous. Has he repented of his constant attacks on the Deposit of Faith and morals. And Mrs McAleese abusing her influence?!! -another enemy of the Faith. This is now a well established pattern on the part of the Pope: the heretics, apostates and enemies of the Church and Faith are given free rein to do their evil, while the persecution of those orthodox priests, deacons, lay, religious escalates in severity, flagrancy and numbers. The scandalous suppression of the FFI, including the lay affiliates continues apace - to outright destruction (all wholly illegal and immoral). Deacon Nick Donnelly, orthodox British blogger in defence of the Faith, is the latest to have been unlawfully and unjustly silenced.
Genty said…
It's one way of quelling dissent - tell the dissenters they are not dissenting. Solved at a stroke.
Meanwhile, tackle the real problem: those pesky FFI trads who make life so difficult for the joyful people.
Joe Potillor said…
Well, who am I to judge?
Steven Cornett said…
All I can say is to quote the faithful Rev. Bernard Herman Kramer from his line-by-line commentary on the Book of Revelation, "The Book of Destiny."

"Conscience may have lost its right to guide the actions of priests and may stand ignored or condemned. Diplomacy, expediency and other trickery may be upheld as the greatest of virtues..Nothing can demoralize the Church as fast or as far as the knowledge that faithful work and strict attendance to duty count for little and that studied diplomacy and playing up to the members of the episcopacy gains everything."

He wrote this in reference to Rev XII,4, which refers to the devil sweeping a third of the "stars of heaven" down to earth with his tail. In prophecy, the stars of heaven are a reference to the clergy and bishops.
Supertradmum said…
Deacon Nick is a member of the clergy whose first obedience is to his bishop and not his blog readers. We, the laity, have a completely different level of obedience and much more freedom, as you know, to express our opinions on things.

We are not part of the "inside" or the hierarchy.

It must be said that the time for blogging will be coming to an end for various reasons. Some of us sensed this four years ago.

As to the Irish priest, do you have all the facts? Do you know if the priest has repented and has changed his ways? Let us pray this is the case.

As usual, you make assumptions about things which are not in your view,unless you are a Vatican insider, and even those types get things wrong.

Elizabeth said…
I don't imagine the Pope's use of the term "soon", regarding the FFI, meant anything much at all. Something to say when he was put on the spot.
Andrew said…
I can't help thinking that something momentous is taking place in the Church right now. And not in a good way. Rather, the forces of satan are aligning themselves in a historically new and devastating fashion.

One wonders what will happen next.
Pelerin said…
Oh dear oh dear. I echo Andrew in wondering what will happen next.

While I quite understand a deacon must obey his bishop, was the deacon not 'going out to the peripheries' keeping us well informed? I would probably not have heard of the dangers of Acta if I had not read details of their meetings on the PTP blog. And has a Bishop really got the authority to close down a blog other than for not reflecting the teachings of the Church?

(I see the first anti-robot word is 'worse' which looks ominous)
Lynda said…
No, Fr Fagan has not made a public retraction of any of his decades-long public attacks on Faith and morals. And Deacon Donnelly's bishop does not have any authority as bishop to act unlawfully or unjustly - to a deacon. The Church is not arbitrary in its actions but follows Divine Law, on which Church Law is based.
Lynda said…
It is not reasonable to presume that there would have been a lifting of these sanctions when no retraction and repentance had been forthcoming, without the permission of the Pope. And Fr Fagan continues to spread his dissent on Faith and morality through his friends in the Media and ACP.
Supertradmum said: "Deacon Nick is a member of the clergy whose first obedience is to his bishop and not his blog readers."

It is correct to say that his obedience is due to his bishop before his readers - absolutely. However, I suggest his FIRST obedience is to Christ Our Lord - as it is for all Catholics.

Consequently no bishop or Pope has the right to command anything which is immoral, contrary to the Gospel or would otherwise interfere with a Catholic's obedience to Christ.

I am not suggesting that Bishop Campbell's command was in any way immoral, as I have absolutely no idea what has transpired between him and Deacon Donnelly.

However, we all have the duty to understand obedience in the Catholic sense and not fall into the trap of false obedience which was so well exposed at the Nuremberg trials. "I was only following orders." will not cut it before the judgment seat of Christ.
Unknown said…
Satan has asked Francis to unleash a hound of hell.

Seattle Kimmy