Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Local Catholics Select Three Priests for Bishop/Archbishop

Following is a media release from the Twin Cities-based Catholic Coalition for Church Reform.

Members of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) Lay Network have “voted” and selected three priests of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to be bishop/archbishop.

The three priests who rose to the top of a slate of seven are Frs. J. Michael Byron of St. Pascal Baylon, St. Paul; Paul Feela of Lumen Christi, St. Paul; and Timothy Wozniak of St. Thomas Becket, Eagan. None of the priests on the slate were consulted, nor did they give their consent to be included in this initiative. Those that voted believe these men would be able to unify polarized factions in this archdiocese and bring Catholics together to accomplish the Church’s mission. (Learn about the selection process at www.cccrmn.org.)

Lay Catholics can’t actually elect their own leadership (hence, vote in quotes), but the CCCR’s Bishop Selection Task Force created the opportunity for local Catholics to “vote” for several reasons:
• To help local laity identify the priests in this archdiocese in whom they have confidence to be effective leaders

• To promote lay Catholics’ ability to raise a unified voice in support of a healthy, sustainable local church

• To begin to re-establish the teachings set forth by the Second Vatican Council, which called for lay Catholics to actively participate in their church

• To help increase the Vatican’s awareness and understanding of the needs of this archdiocese

Of the 1,540 local Catholics registered in the CCCR Lay Network and, therefore, eligible to vote, 410 votes were received. “I’m delighted with the response,” said Bob Christensen of the Bishop Selection Task Force. “That’s almost 30 percent participation – pretty impressive for the first time we’ve done anything like this.”

Lay Catholics, whether or not they voted in the selection process, are now being urged to write to the papal nuncio with their recommendations for leadership. The papal nuncio is the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., who decides which names will be forwarded to Rome when bishops and archbishops are needed in this country. Those who write may recommend the priests identified by the vote, other priests they feel are credible choices for bishop/archbishop, and/or qualities they feel are essential to reunifying the archdiocese and refocusing on the mission of the church.

Correspondence to the papal nuncio should be sent to:

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò,
Papal Nuncio to the U.S.
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008-3687


“We’d like everyone to write to the nuncio by December 15,” said Paula Ruddy of CCCR. “We want him to be aware that we’re concerned about this archdiocese and care enough to contact him about it. We hope a lot of correspondence from our archdiocese within this timeframe will get his attention. The CCCR has written to give Archbishop Viganò a heads up, but the power is in the voice of the people. The people are who he needs to hear from.”

Those who write may choose to frame their letters in the context of the upheaval in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, but this initiative started long before the archdiocesan woes came to light.

Carol Tauer of CCCR said, “Our group was established in 2009 to stimulate lay interest and participation in our local church. Vatican II called for all Catholics to step up and take responsibility for the future of the church - not just the clergy. Those Vatican II teachings have been forgotten over time. We want to see them come alive again and be strengthened through active lay engagement.”

The CCCR was formed in 2009 to help re-establish a healthy, sustainable Catholic church in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It is building a Lay Network and encouraging a growing community of Catholics to take action and be heard on issues including evolutionary Christianity, sexual ethics, gender inclusivity, transparency and accountability, bishop selection and lay involvement in church leadership.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Complementarity of the Sexes: A Trap

By Maureen Fiedler

Note: This commentary was first published November 14, 2014 by the National Catholic Reporter.

Pope Francis will address a conference on traditional marriage and the family in Rome (Nov. 17-19) headlined as dealing with the “Complementarity of Man and Woman.”

It is an interfaith conference with several noted conservative theological attendees, including Mormons, Southern Baptists, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Rev. Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in California.

The conference was apparently initiated by very conservative German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

What struck me, however, was the headline word: complementarity. It’s a word and concept long rejected by those who care about the equality of women and men in our world. Complementarity emphasizes the ways in which the sexes are different and thus is used as a support for traditional marriage. People who favor this concept argue that same-sex couples lack such complementarity, and this is an important sign that same-sex marriage is not part of God’s law.

But complementarity is also used to argue against the equality of women and men in general. It emphasizes the differences between the genders, rather than the fact that both share similar human qualities, and can hold similar positions in life. In the 21st century, we know that both men and women can and do have powerful intellects, leadership abilities, physical prowess, financial skills, a capacity for gentleness and caring, and a love of children. There is no innate reason why a woman cannot be a CEO of a corporation, a senator or President of the United States. And there is no innate reason a man cannot be a loving counselor, a cook or a full-time father and homemaker.

The emphasis should be on gender equality, not complementarity. What a difference that would make!

Looking at the title of this conference also reinforces my view that Pope Francis – wonderful man that he is – still needs a course in “Woman 101.” And maybe “Families 101” as well. His participation in this conference is just the latest sign that he has not moved into the 21st century when it comes to either gender roles or marriage.

Maureen Fiedler, SL, is the host of Interfaith Voices, a public radio show, heard on 62 radio stations in North America. She has been involved in interfaith activities for more than three decades as an active participant in coalitions working for social justice, racial and gender equality, and peace. Her special interests lie at the intersection of theology and public policy. She is a Sister of Loretto, and holds a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University in Washington.

Updates and Related Off-site Links:
Pope and Christian Conservatives Team Up to Promote Patriarchy – Patricia Miller (Religion Dispatches, November 20, 2014).
Pope Reinforces Traditional Family Values – Nicole Winfield (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, November 17, 2014).
Francis Urges De-politicization of Family, Confirms US Visit – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, November 17, 2014).
Stop in the Name of Discriminatory Ideology! – Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed, October 29, 2008).
How the Pope's Recent Remarks on Evolution Highlight a Major Discrepancy in Church Teaching – Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed, October 30, 2014).

Monday, November 10, 2014

U.S. Catholic Bishops Try to Calm Right-Wing Anxieties Over Pope

By Rachel Zoll

Note: This article was first published November 10, 2014 by the Associated Press.

America's Catholic bishops came together Monday to project an image of unity, after a Vatican meeting on the family unleashed an uproar over the direction of the church.

Last month's gathering in Rome on more compassionately ministering to families featured open debate — alarming many traditional Catholics, who argued it would undermine public understanding of church teaching. Pope Francis encouraged a free exchange of ideas at the assembly, or synod, in contrast to previous years, when such events were tightly scripted.

At a meeting Monday in Baltimore, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, signaled there was no conflict between a gentler approach and upholding church orthodoxy. Kurtz cited his home visits to parishioners, where he wouldn't give them "a list of rules to follow firsthand," but would instead "spend time with them trying to appreciate the good that I saw in their hearts," before inviting them to follow Christ.

"Such an approach isn't in opposition to church teachings. It's an affirmation of them," said Kurtz, who attended the Vatican gathering.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, who also participated in the Vatican gathering, emphasized that last month's meeting was only the start of a discussion before a larger gathering on the family next year, where bishops will more concretely advise the pope on developing any new church practices. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said the divisiveness he read in media accounts did not reflect the collegial discussion inside the event.

"It was a synod of consensus," Dolan said. The pope, he said, has a God-given gift "for attentive listening."

The bishops made the remarks at their fourth national meeting since Francis was elected. While many Catholics have praised Francis' new emphasis on mercy over the culture wars, many theological conservatives have said Francis is failing to carry out his duty as defender of the faith. Some U.S. bishops have resisted turning their focus away from gay marriage, abortion and other contentious social issues to take up Francis' focus on the poor, immigrants and those who feel unwelcome in the church.

The papal ambassador to Washington, Archbishop Carlo Vigano, said in a wide-ranging speech bishops "must not be afraid to work with our Holy Father."

The public sessions at the U.S. bishops' meeting are focused on religious liberty, upholding marriage between a man and a woman, and moral issues in health care. In his speech, Kurtz said the bishops would continue to fight the Obama administration over the birth control coverage requirement in the Affordable Care Act. The administration has made several changes to accommodate the bishops' concerns, but church leaders say the White House hasn't gone far enough. Dozens of dioceses and Catholic nonprofits have sued over the mandate.

At the Rome gathering, tensions arose when Vatican officials released a mid-meeting report that contained language more welcoming to gays and people in civil heterosexual unions. The language was not included in the final report.

The Rev. Tom Rosica, a Vatican press office official for English-language media, attended the American bishops' assembly. He said an in interview that Catholic church leaders and lay people, as well as those outside the church, are reacting strongly to the Vatican meeting because they aren't accustomed to addressing issues the way Francis advocates.

"The pope made it clear doctrine would remain untouched," Rosica said.

He said Francis "is traveling at high altitude," above the backlash to his leadership, as he tries to revive discussion and move the church forward.

Related Off-site Links:
Cardinal: Pope Francis Doesn't Want a 'Self-pitying Church' – Cathy Lynn Grossman (Religion News Service via Crux, November 10, 2014).
The Church Needs the Commotion the Family Synod Caused – Editorial Staff (National Catholic Reporter, November 7, 2014).
What the Left and Right Get Wrong About Pope Francis – John Gehring (Crux, October 27, 2014).

See also the previous PCV posts:
Tony Flannery in Minneapolis
The "Francis Era" in America Starts Today in Chicago
Creating a Liberating Church

Image: Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, attends the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops general meeting in Baltimore Monday, November 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tony Flannery in Minneapolis


By Michael J. Bayly

We’re at a moment in time when reform-minded Catholics must let their voices be heard.

This was one of a number of messages that both inspired and challenged the 300+ Catholics who gathered at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis on the evening of Wednesday, November 5, 2014. It was a message delivered by Irish priest Tony Flannery.

Minneapolis was the tenth stop on Flannery’s 18-city speaking tour of the U.S., and was significant as it will be the only time he speaks on official Catholic Church property. This is because bishops throughout the country have banned the 68-year-old Redemptorist priest from church premises, or, perhaps more accurately, have warned parishes against hosting him. Flannery’s tour is sponsored by the Catholic Tipping Point Coalition, which offers the following explanation for the hierarchy’s inhospitable attitude.

Fr. Tony has been ordered to remain silent and forbidden to minister as a priest because of his refusal to sign a document that violates his conscience: namely that women cannot be priests and that he accepts all Church stances on contraception, homosexuality, and refusal of the sacraments to people in second relationships. After a year during which he attempted to come to some accommodation with the Vatican without success, he has decided to take a public stance on the need for reform in the Church. . . . Rather than remain silent, Fr. Tony and all people of conscience are ready to dialogue.

In Minneapolis, Flannery’s talk and the dialogue it facilitated took place on official church property due to St. Frances Cabrini pastor Mike Tegeder's decision to defy a directive from Archbishop Nienstedt. (Tegeder has a long history of criticizing and defying the archbishop. See, for example, here, here, here, and here.)

Responding to Nienstedt's concerns about Flannery's presence on Catholic property, Tegeder had the following message posted on the podium.

Tonight's speaker, Tony Flannery, is not to be perceived in any way as being sponsored by the Catholic Church. This announcement comes from Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, Chief Catechist of the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis.

Of course, the first part of this statement is only true if one reduces "the Catholic Church" to its clerical leadership. Large segments of the local church, representative of the church as the people of God, clearly have no problem with supporting, welcoming, and, yes, sponsoring, a speaker like Tony Flannery.

Implementing Vatican II

Flannery first came to the attention of many outside his native Galway when, in response to the Irish bishops' “total lack of leadership” in dealing with the clergy sex abuse scandal, he co-founded the Association of Catholic Priests in 2009.

The association works toward the “full implementation of the vision and teaching of the Second Vatican Council,” with special emphasis on the primacy of the individual conscience, the status and active participation of all the baptized, and the task of establishing a Church where all believers are treated as equal.

Such work corresponds with the activities of Catholic reform groups around the globe, as do the specific objections of the Association of Catholic Priests, which include:

• A redesigning of ministry in the Church in order to incorporate the gifts, wisdom, and expertise of the entire faith community, male and female.

• A re-structuring of the governing system of the Church, basing it on service rather than on power, and encouraging at every level a culture of consultation and transparency, particularly in the appointment of Church leaders.

• A culture in which the local bishop and the priests relate to each other in a spirit of trust, support and generosity.

• A re-evaluation of Catholic sexual teaching and practice that recognizes the profound mystery of human sexuality and the experience and wisdom of God’s people.

• Promotion of peace, justice and the protection of God’s creation locally, nationally and globally.

• Recognition that Church and State are separate and that while the Church must preach the message of the Gospel and try to live it authentically, the State has the task of enacting laws for all its citizens.

• Liturgical celebrations that use rituals and language that are easily understood, inclusive and accessible to all.

According to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Flannery’s (and by extension the Association of Catholic Priests’) views on ordination, contraception, and homosexuality could be construed as "heresy" under church law. During his talk in Minneapolis on November 5, Flannery noted that the Vatican had been particularly alarmed by two views he had expressed in his writings for the Association: that the priesthood as we have it now is not of the mind of Jesus, and that the hierarchical, monarchical structure of the church as it exists today is not what Jesus intended. As a result of these statements, Flannery has been threatened with "canonical penalties," including excommunication, if he does not change his views.

Yet Flannery has no intention of backing down, noting that “the Vatican hasn’t got the Holy Spirit in its pocket.” To those who insist that he must submit in total obedience to the Magisterium, the legitimate teaching authority of the church, Flannery counters by stating that “any authority that tramples on the dignity and basic human rights of its members has long lost claims to legitimacy.”

In his recent book, A Question of Conscience, Flannery recounts his treatment by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Two central issues

Flannery believes that as Catholics we are living through extraordinary times with the papacy of Francis. In 100 years time, he says, historians will be writing volumes on this pivotal moment in the history of the church. The bulk of Flannery's November 5 talk was focused on what he identifies as two central issues facing the church at this important time.

The first of these issues is the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the church. Flannery says that there is currently a conflict between two notions of the Magisterium – a narrow notion and a broad one. The narrow notion sees the Magisterium as being composed solely of the bishops (including the pope as Bishop of Rome). The broader version recognizes that the church’s teaching authority depends on recognition of and dialogue among three groups: the bishops, Catholic theologians, and the collective wisdom of the Catholic people (the sensus fidelium).

Flannery contends that Pope Francis is doing the best he can to move the church from the narrow view of teaching authority to the broader view. Francis, says Flannery, wants to hear the voice of the sensus fidelium, and to embed in the structures of the church the broader view of the Magisterium.

Flannery was quick to point out that he’s not an academic, yet his grasp on theology, says Eugene Cullen Kennedy of Chicago’s Loyola University, is better than those in the hierarchy who have attempted to silence him.

Flannery’s condemnation by the Vatican, writes Kennedy in his January 25, 2013 National Catholic Reporter column, should be “recognized as a harbinger of the kind of problem that sure-of-their-infallibility Vatican authorities will encounter in their relationships with the rising generation of theological scholars, most of whom are laymen and women who will not accept condemnations such as that now imposed on Father Flannery.”

Continues Kennedy:

Even well-educated Catholics know as much or more theology than these veiled Roman enforcers. That also goes for the American bishops, who are wonderful men in general but who are unprepared for theological conversations with their people. One of the reasons the bishops have difficulty in communicating effectively with ordinary Catholics arises from their discomfort and/or inability to discuss theological issues with them. . . . Flannery's condemnation is an augury of the deepening estrangement that will take place if the Vatican does not respect the growing theological understanding of its members. The bishops are sincere in wanting to establish better channels of communication with their people. The best thing they can do to achieve that is to master the language of modern theological and scriptural studies that so many Catholics understand better than they do right now.

In his 2013 column, Kennedy also examines two of the issues that Flannery “is being forced to sign off on if he wants to continue his work: Christ's having established the church in hierarchical form and the assertion, employed constantly by bishops to legitimate their authority, that they are the direct descendants of the apostles.”

“If anything,” writes Kennedy “Christ called together a college of apostles, and the collegiality to which Vatican II returned is a far better image than the hierarchical form that was adopted from the hierarchical cosmological view of the universe and expressed in secular kingdoms, including the Roman Empire, whose provinces and proconsuls provided the model for laying out the governance of the church.”

In should be noted that Kennedy highlights an interesting discrepancy in the rhetoric of those who unquestioningly assert that the current structure of church governance is somehow ordained by God and has thus always been. The Vatican’s doctrinal chief Cardinal Gerhard Müller, for example, recently declared that Pope Francis’ Synod on the Family, which for Flannery is a prime example of the pope’s efforts to move the church from a narrow understanding of authority to a broader one, is evidence that the bishops are being “blinded by secularism.” Yet as many Catholics now recognize, the feudal and monarchical structure of the church is itself based on a secular structure from a specific historical era. If the church could adopt an organizing and leadership structure from secular society at one point in its history, why can it not adopt another, namely democracy, from a more current time? And as Robert McClory has compellingly documented, modern democracy actually is more aligned with the democratic impulse and egalitarian spirit of the early Christian church than the Vatican’s model of leadership, fashioned as it is around Roman imperial power of the fifth century.

Decision-making in the church was the second central issue highlighted by Flannery in his November 5 talk in Minneapolis. As with the issue of authority, two understandings of decision-making are currently in conflict – decision-making through authoritarian, top-down edicts vs. decision-making through discernment by the whole community through a process that honors conscience.

Flannery acknowledges that decision-making through discernment can initially cause confusion. But he is adamant that, over time, truth is discerned, “the Spirit’s voice heard.”

“Not a time for reform people to sit back”

Despite his obvious affinity for the group he co-founded, Flannery acknowledges that with the steady decline in the number of priests the true hope for future reform of the church lies with lay reform movements and groups, and with the growing number of intentional Eucharistic communities.

Flannery said he is impressed by the number and vitality of Catholic reform groups in the U.S., but cautioned that, despite the hopeful signs from Francis’ papacy, it is “not a time for reform people to sit back.” We need to do everything we can to ensure our vision of church is heard at the highest levels of church leadership. “Bishops should not only hear from conservative Catholics,” Flannery said, especially in over the next year in the lead-up to Synod on the Family 2015.

One way local lay Catholics are making their voices heard is through a process being facilitated by the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR). Through this process local members of the clergy are being nominated for the next archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis. CCCR leadership notes that the lay people of Chicago spoke out about the kind of leadership they needed and that many believe they were heard, as evidenced by the appointment of their new archbishop, the moderate Blase Cupich.

After voting concludes on November 15, CCCR will announce the top three names in the polling. Local Catholics will then be encouraged to write to the U.S. papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, to let him know their thoughts about the kind of leadership needed in the St. Paul/Minneapolis Archdiocese. The goal is that when next there’s an opening for bishop/archbishop in the archdiocese, Archbishop Viganò will not only know that lay Catholics here are paying attention, but will also be aware of the names of men that Catholics have confidence in. (Note: In order to be eligible to vote in CCCR’s Bishop Selection Campaign, registration with the group’s Lay Catholic Network is necessary. You can register here.)

It is activities like CCCR's Bishop Selection Campaign – proactive and voice-raising – that encourage Tony Flannery and many others. Such activities are time-consuming, unglamorous, and more-often-than-not slow to yield results. Yet they are vital for reform-minded Catholics to engage in and spread the word about.

We truly are at a time when our voices need to be heard!

Recommended Resources for Letting Our Voices Be Heard:
The Lay Network in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis – The Catholic Coalition for Church Reform.
Where Do We Go from Here? – Writing to Our Bishops – New Ways Ministry.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Controversial Priest's Visit Exposes Rift in Catholic Church – Jon Tevlin (Star Tribune, November 4, 2014).
Silenced Irish Priest Tony Flannery Touring U.S. – Dennis Coday (National Catholic Reporter, October 21, 2014).
A Review of Tony Flannery's A Question of Conscience – Dermot Keogh (The Independent, September 15, 2013).
Fr. Flannery's Grasp of Theology Better Than That of His Silencers – Eugene Cullen Kennedy (National Catholic Reporter, January 25, 2013).
Irish Priest Receives Support from Near and Far in His Vatican Struggle – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, January 23, 2013).
Vatican's Demand for Silence is Too High a Price – Tony Flannery (The Irish Times, January 21, 2013).
Dissident Irish Priest Fears Excommunication Over Views on Women Priests – Patrick Counihan (IrishCentral.com, January 21, 2013).
Irish Redemptorist Father Tony Flannery Gets the Ray Bourgeios Treatment from the CDF – Colleen Kochivar-Baker (Enlightened Catholicism, January 20, 2013).
Priest Is Planning to Defy the Vatican’s Orders to Stay Quiet – Douglas Dalby (The New York Times, January 19, 2013).

See also the previous PCV posts:
"Our Voices Are Growing"
Creating a Liberating Church
Let Our Voices Be Heard

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Controversial Priest's Visit Exposes Rift in Catholic Church

By Jon Tevlin

Note: This commentary was first published November 4, 2014, by the Star Tribune.

A south Minneapolis church plans to bring in controversial Irish Redemptorist priest Tony Flannery to speak on Wednesday, despite warnings from Archbishop John Nienstedt. And the church’s pastor is using the words of a powerful church leader to justify it: Pope Francis.

Father Mike Tegeder, pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Church, has been intent on bringing in Flannery, who is on a speaking tour of the country. But the Cabrini visit will be the only time he speaks on Catholic Church property.

Flannery, author of several books on religion, holds controversial positions on birth control, homosexuality and the ordination of women. He was silenced by the Vatican in 2012 and told he would be allowed to return to ministry only if he signed a statement denouncing beliefs that don’t agree with current church doctrine. He has refused.

Tegeder, long an outspoken priest who has repeatedly tangled with Nienstedt, met with him late last week to discuss the issue.

“We didn’t have a meeting of the minds,” said Tegeder. “He listened to me, and I’m thankful for that. But I pounded the table, as I’m prone to do, and said this is non-negotiable. I told him, ‘you could throw my ass right out of here, but I’m throwing myself in your mercy.’ ”

In a letter to the archdiocese, Tegeder referenced Pope Francis in defending the speaker.

“Thank God for Pope Francis, who in a speech at the closing of the recent Synod on the Family, said, ‘Personally I would have been very worried and saddened if there hadn’t been these . . . animated discussions . . . or if everyone had been in agreement or silent in a false and acquiescent peace,’ ” Tegeder wrote. He added that Francis said he “wanted a mess in our dioceses.”

Tegeder has certainly been willing to accommodate that wish. He has repeatedly fought church hierarchy, most recently over gay marriage.

In their meeting, Tegeder asked why it was fine for church bishops and cardinals to discuss controversial issues, “and you don’t approve of those, so why can’t this little church in Minneapolis talk about them,” Tegeder said.

Even though the diocese has much bigger issues at hand, such as the relentless news accounts of child abuse, Tegeder said he’s not surprised that the issue of someone speaking at his church has gotten the attention of church leadership.

“It’s a minor thing in my opinion, but this is what these guys live for — hierarchical control,” Tegeder said.

“He doesn’t make a cogent argument about why we shouldn’t do this,” Tegeder added. “Enough of this crazy control of people.”

Tegeder said his congregation is excited to hear from Flannery, a founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland. Flannery has a recent book out, A Question of Conscience, which recounts his treatment by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then led by Josef Ratzinger.

Flannery “is trying to reform the church,” said Tegeder. “He said listening to women in confession talk about sexual issues and birth control, it’s transformed him.”

Tegeder said that while very few American priests openly call for change, about one-third of those in Ireland are pushing hard for reforms.

Initially, Nienstedt asked Tegeder to change the venue of the speech, something the priest called “progress.”

Then on Friday, a worker at Cabrini called Tegeder to tell him a registered letter had arrived, and wanted to know if they should open it.

“Hoping that I won some kind of jackpot, I said of course,” Tegeder wrote in response to the archbishop.

As it turned out, it was an official request that Flannery’s visit not be perceived in any way as being sponsored by the Catholic Church.”

In the letter, Nienstedt said that “Flannery attacks the teaching of the Church” on important issues.

“In light of this record, I request that he not be perceived in any way as being sponsored by the Catholic Church,” Nienstedt wrote. “To that end, I stipulated that he not be permitted to speak on any Catholic premises in the Archdiocese. Notice please that I have not cut off dialogue here, which would, by the way, be my personal preference.”

Tegeder responded: “I will indeed announce this publicly and will even have a sign up at the lectern to that effect noting that it comes from you, the Chief Catechist of our Archdiocese.”

So, unless there are further communications, Flannery’s talk will happen Wednesday, November 5 at 7 p.m., with the support of the Cabrini community.

“I’ve got a lot of love behind me,” Tegeder said.

Jon Tevlin can be contacted at jtevlin@startribune.com or 612-673-1702. Follow Jon on Twitter: @jontevlin

Related Off-site Links:
Silenced Irish Priest Tony Flannery Touring U.S. – Dennis Coday (National Catholic Reporter, October 21, 2013).
A Review of Tony Flannery's A Question of Conscience – Dermot Keogh (The Independent, September 15, 2013).

See also the previous PCV posts:
Fr. Tony Flannery: "Vatican's Demand for Silence is Too High a Price"
A Call for Dialogue in the Catholic Church