LIMERICK City North councillor Tom Shortt has spoken out in favour of under-fire priest Fr Tony Flannery.
Fr Flannery - who was rector in Limerick for six years during the 1990s - has been asked by the Vatican to go to a monastery and “reflect on his situation” for a six week period.
This came after Fr Flannery publicly expressed opposition to the Church’s ban on artificial birth control and its refusal to ordain women.
Speaking at this week’s sports and culture committee meeting, Cllr Tom Shortt said: “I would like to express my support for Fr Tony Flannery. I really feel for him at present. He is suffering from the repressive way of the Catholic Church in Rome. It is sad to see people who would still resort to these bad ways.”
Cllr Shortt described Fr Flannery as “a fantastic ambassador for Limerick and the Catholic Church”.
“He talks sense in an institution which needs more people like him to open up a debate. It is sad to think there are still people out there who will repress this,” Cllr Shortt told members.
His views were seconded by fellow northside councillor, Fine Gael’s Cormac Hurley.
And support for the Athenry-based Redemptorist priest came in from Fr Adrian Egan, head of the order in Limerick, expressing his sadness and disappointment at the action taken by the Vatican.
Doon-based priest Fr Gerry Moloney, is also believed to be the subject of scrutiny by the Catholic Church.
As editor of Reality, he is believed to have been told not to publish any articles on celibacy, the use of contraception and the involvement of women in the clergy.
“I have lived and worked with them, prayed and studied with them, given missions with them. They are two very fine priests, very compassionate men, pastoral men, and excellent preachers, who have given their lives in this work and service and done a huge amount of good,” he said.
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