By Samuel Burke, CNN
A Catholic priest in Ireland says he is being threatened with excommunication by the Vatican because of his liberal stances on homosexuality and contraception.
Last year, Father Tony Flannery says he was asked to sign a document accepting the Vatican tenet barring women from becoming priests and accepting all the sexual and moral teachings of the Catholic Church.
“I cannot put my name to that document,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. His unwillingness to sign it means he is now prevented from ministering as a priest.
“It would contradict what I've been saying for years and what, indeed, most Irish Catholics believe.”
CNN tried to get a response from the Vatican, without success.
Father Flannery was previously in hot water for writing that he cannot accept a thesis that would suggest that the spirit of God speaks more powerfully through him than it does through a female theologian with whom he worked.
“I'm stating something that I believe – that my understanding of church is a community where all people are treated equally, we are all baptized, we are all equal members of the church, and our gender should not enter into it.”
He said his vision fits in with the Second Vatican Council that he grew up with.
While that period opened up many reforms – it never condoned homosexuality or the ordination of female priests.
But Flannery says he has no intention to leave the Catholic Church, whether or not he is allowed to minister.
“I'm not looking for these changes over night. I'm not looking for, expecting the ordination of women overnight. My problem is that we're not even allowed to discuss these things.”
Deeming homosexual acts as “intrinsically evil” is not compatible with ministering the parents of sons and daughters who have come out as gay, he says.
“That's happening a lot in Ireland for the moment, and I could see the enormous pain that was being caused to them by the public stances of the Vatican.”
While Flannery has progressive stances on many issues, some groups contended that he has not been sufficiently critical on the issue of child abuse.
He rejects that notion, and said he condemns the sexual abuse and violence by Catholic priests. He is one of the founders and leaders of the Association of Catholic Priests that works to help and support priests in every situation.
“But, I absolutely condemn the sexual abuse of children by anybody and I have very good reason to do that, because I myself was a victim of child sexual abuse, when I was young, not by a priest, but by a neighbor. So, I have very personal experience of the awfulness and the destructiveness of that. So, I absolutely and totally condemn that.”