A popular Irish priest known for his liberal views has been told to shut up by church authorities, reports the Daily Beast. Father Tony Flannery, who has questioned the doctrine of celibacy, and said the priesthood should be opened up to women, has been told to stop writing about controversial subjects, and to spend the next six weeks in prayer and reflection at a monastery. His monthly column in a Catholic magazine has been axed on orders from the Vatican.
Ireland's Association of Catholic Priests—of which Flannery is a founding member—slammed the Vatican's intervention, calling it "unfair, unwarranted, and unwise," the Galway Independent reports. The association accused the Vatican of "heresy hunting," and warned that the move to silence Flannery only adds to a growing sense of disconnect between the church in Ireland and officials in Rome. Pope Benedict XVI recently warned that the church will not tolerate priests who stray from doctrine, and harshly criticized dissident priests in Austria. Some Catholic bloggers say that the mounting backlash against silencing critics suggests a "Catholic Spring" uprising is on the way.