Resurrection correction

Resurrection correction
Fr Tony Flannery Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Controversial Irish priest says Bible may have got the Resurrection all wrong

Redemptorist priest Fr Tony Flannery – who has been banned from practicing by the Vatican – has said that Bible accounts of the resurrection could be wrong.

He also accused the Catholic Church of being “not very helpful” in their efforts throughout history to explain the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Fr Flannery was removed from the public ministry in 2012 for his liberal views on fundamental Church teachings relating to female ordination, contraception and homosexuality. In his latest post on his personal website, www.tonyflannery.com, he questioned the Bible’s narrative when it comes to the subject of Jesus rising from the dead.

He said: “The resurrection of Jesus is fundamental to our faith, but that does not mean it happened exactly as it is described in the various biblical accounts.

“What it does tell us is that, after the desolation of Jesus followers as a result of his death, they gradually began to realise that in a mysterious, but very real, way he was still with them.

“In other words, maybe their experience of the reality of Jesus in their lives wasn’t that different to how we can also experience him in our own lives, and in our communities when we gather to pray and celebrate.

“The detail of how this happened doesn’t really matter very much.

“What matters is that they knew Jesus was with them, and that changed everything. For me, that is all I need to know about the reality of the resurrection.”

Fr Flannery’s book ‘A Question of Conscience’ tells how his progressive views on the future of the Catholic Church have left him threatened with excommunication. Summoned to Rome in June 2012, he was told that unless he revised his view that the church should be open to discussing subjects such as homosexuality and celibacy, he would not be allowed to minister as a priest and he would have to step down from his leadership role with the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP).

Regarding the consecration, Fr Flannery said he believes that it is “much more wonderful and powerful” than the Church teaches. He added that an element of mystery should have been maintained, rather than ascribing to a rigid set of rules and practices.

“I don’t think all the efforts (and battles) down through the centuries about how exactly Jesus is present in the Eucharist have been very helpful.

“The doctrine tells us that when the priest speaks the words of consecration (This is my body; this is my blood) that Jesus becomes present in the bread and wine,” he said. “[But] not only do we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, but we bring him with us to the gathering. We give and we take, and Jesus is in the giving and the taking.

“Life and faith are deep mysteries, and we should try to enter into them with an open mind and heart, rather than try to explain and control them.

“The big mistake the Church has made down through the centuries is that it has tried to tie down and explain for all time realities that are deeply mysterious and profound. Too much doctrine kills mystery.”


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