Dear Editor, The great apostle Paul, whilst imprisoned – whilst in chains – in Rome, could well have thrown in the towel in a state of despair. But no: instead, he exhorted his people – the people of God – to "Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say, Rejoice." (Phil. 4:4).
Many generations later, another great apostle is in chains, not in Rome – but by Rome. I refer, of course, to Father Tony Flannery, the famous Redemptorist Missioner who has edified the Irish people in the preaching of the Gospel.
It is imperative to state that I am no sycophant of the clergy; the clergy are our brothers and sisters in Christ – called to preach the Gospel and minister to God's people. The laity are not in the clergy's pocket; within my own lifetime, there was a quasi-theocratic government in the Republic of Ireland, but, thank God, that has vanished. To return to Tony Flannery: nobody can come between someone and his/her conscience. A person is alone in that sanctuary with God when a decision of conscience is activated. However – or by whoever – the decision to ‘silence’ Fr Flannery, the question must be: is it for the greater good? Would Jesus want Fr Tony to be in the imposed solitude in which he finds himself? A prayer to the Holy Spirit is essential in this regard.
But, as regards Rome: in terms of the curia and the frenzied activity of that tiny state, it is always vital to call to mind that the Vatican is not the Holy Bible. God's Word has stood the test of time. We are assured by Holy Scripture – by that great apostle Paul – in his Epistle to the Romans, that nothing can come between us and the love of God, made visible in Christ Jesus, our Lord. (Rom. 8:35-38).