Following on my post of yesterday, about the likelihood of an assault-from-within in the Catholic church, it seems Ireland may lead the charge. Irish clergy have been among the most heinous of the church’s manifold serial rapists of children and (not coincidentally) the Irish, historically among the most devout of Catholics, have been leaving the church in droves.
Recently, Bishop John Buckley indicated that church positions against contraception, abortion and premarital sex are not rules that must be followed but “ideals.” This is a virtual shot across the bow. The Vatican sees the church as a strict hierarchy, with the pope and cardinals at the top issuing orders, which Catholics are obliged to follow.
An Irish priest named Tony Flannery today puts himself in direct opposition to the hierarchy. In 2010 he directly challenged the basis of the church’s top-down power system, when he wrote:
I no longer believe that the priesthood, as we currently have it in the Church, originated with Jesus. More likely that sometime after Jesus, a select and privileged group within the community who had abrogated power and authority to themselves, interpreted the occasion of the Last Supper in a manner that suited their own agenda.
This is, historically speaking, accurate. And the select and privileged group today, who have abrogated power and authority to themselves, are outraged. The Vatican suspended Flannery from the priesthood for this, and forbade him from speaking out. Today, Flannery holds a news conference, in open defiance of the pope.