‘Giordano Bruno & Fr Tony Flannery’ by Joe McVeigh

More than four centuries ago, on February 16, 1600, the Catholic Church executed (by burning at the stake), a man called Giordano Bruno, for the crime of heresy. He was taken from his cell in the early hours of the morning to the Piazza dei Fiori in Rome and burnt alive at the stake. The Church authorities were fearful of the ideas of this man who was known throughout Europe as a bold and brilliant thinker. In a peculiar twist to the gruesome affair, the executioners were ordered to tie his tongue so that he would be unable to address those gathered. Bruno had been ordained a priest in the Dominican order but left the priesthood after five years.

“Throughout his life Bruno championed the Copernican system of astronomy which placed the sun, not the Earth, at the centre of the solar system. He opposed the stultifying authority of the Church and refused to recant his philosophical beliefs throughout his eight years of imprisonment by the Venetian and Roman Inquisitions. His life stands as a testimony to the drive for knowledge and truth that marked the astonishing period of history known as the Renaissance—from which so much in modern art, thought and science derives.”

In 1992, after 12 years of deliberations, the Vatican admitted that Galileo Galilei had been right in supporting the theories of Copernicus. The Holy Inquisition had forced an aged Galileo to recant his ideas under threat of torture in 1633. But no such admission has been made in the case of Bruno. His writings are, I believe,  still on the Vatican’s list of forbidden texts.

“The current attitude of the Catholic Church to Bruno is defined by a two-page entry in the latest edition of the Catholic Encyclopaedia. It describes Bruno’s “intolerance” and berates him, declaring “his attitude of mind towards religious truth was that of a rationalist”.  The article describes in detail Bruno’s theological errors and his lengthy detention at the hands of the Inquisition, but fails to mention the best-known fact —that the church authorities burnt him alive at the stake.”

Bruno has long been revered as a martyr to scientific truth. In 1889 a monument to him was erected at the location of his execution. Such was the feeling for Bruno that scientists and poets paid tribute to him and a book was written detailing his life’s work. In a dedication for a meeting held at the Contemporary Club in Philadelphia in 1890, American poet Walt Whitman wrote: “As America’s mental courage (the thought comes to me today) is so indebted, above all current lands and peoples, to the noble army of old-world martyrs past, how incumbent on us that we clear those martyrs’ lives and names, and hold them up for reverent admiration as well as beacons. And typical of this, and standing for it and all perhaps, Giordano Bruno may well be put, today and to come, in our New World’s thankfulest heart and memory.”

Fr Tony Flannery, a Redemptorist priest, was ‘silenced’ in by the Vatican’s Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 2012 for expressing views about celibacy, women priests that are contrary to the official teaching of the Curia. Being silenced means he is forbidden to say public masses and minister as a priest. He was admonished by his Religious superiors to remain silent –but he refuses to do so and travels around Ireland and the world talking about the need for Church reform. Tony celebrated his 70th birthday recently by saying a public Mass in his home parish in county Galway. Mass was celebrated in a local community centre and was attended by large crowd of friends and well-wishers. Tony was on RTE one night recently and he explained his thinking to a dumbo called Darcy who has his own programme on RTE. He was well received by the studio audience because he talked a lot of sense.

Tony Flannery (born 1947) is a native of Attymon, near Athenry in County Galway. Tony joined the Redemptorists at the age of seventeen in 1964, and was ordained a priest ten years later, in 1974. He spent his priestly life as a preacher of missions, novenas and retreats, mostly around Ireland. He has written a number of books, and numerous articles in a variety of publications, both religious and secular. For about fourteen years he contributed a regular column for the Redemptorist magazine, Reality. Tony was part of the group that founded the Association of Catholic Priests. Tony is a man of faith and courage, a committed Christian and a man devoted to the priesthood of Christ. He only wants a better Church that is more inclusive and more representative of the baptised faithful. For wanting this he has been silenced by the CDF in Rome!  As Tony himself says, he is lucky that he has not been burned at the stake. Not yet anyway.


(Another man with a variation of Bruno’s name is a regular correspondent on this site. He has nothing very radical or balanced to contribute.)







27 Responses to ‘Giordano Bruno & Fr Tony Flannery’ by Joe McVeigh

  1. giordanobruno April 29, 2017 at 9:27 am #

    Thank you for that interesting piece.
    Bruno was indeed a radical thinker who had a fascinating life and I admire his insight into the place of our world in the universe.
    He also did much work in the field of mnemonics and had a prodigious memory.
    Sadly many contributors here are lacking in that field.
    Your jab at me in the end was hardly called for and a mite unchristian.
    I would gladly debate the areas where we disagree if you would engage with commenters, but you do not.
    “It may be you fear more to deliver judgment upon me than I fear judgment”

    • Jude Collins April 29, 2017 at 9:38 am #

      Gio – instead of faulting Joe who, having written a blog, doesn’t respond to your comments to your satisfaction, why don’t you write a blog and let him respond to your developed thinking?

      • giordanobruno April 29, 2017 at 10:12 am #

        Joe has said he comes here to engage yet he never does.
        I don’t want to write a blog thanks,but I would like to discuss the blogs with the writers.
        Is that too much to ask?
        Are you going to (gently) chastise Joe for the entirely needless personal attack on me at the end of his piece?
        I am guessing not
        Are you going to chastise anyone for referring to Ruth Dudley Edwards as an old trout and an old tart?
        I am guessing not
        Can I refer to Michelle O’Neill as a tart?
        I am guessing not.
        Are you going to tell us why MT is gone yet so many others post routine daily abuse?
        I am guessing not.

        • Wolfe tone April 29, 2017 at 10:22 am #

          “Are you going to tell us why MT is gone yet so many others post routine daily abuse?
          I am guessing not.”

          Lmfao. Someone is hurting.

          • giordanobruno April 29, 2017 at 11:10 am #

            It smacks a bit of Stalinism do you not think?
            Disappearing someone with no explanation.
            Someone who was not abusive by the way, unlike some we could mention eh, nudge nudge!!

          • Wolfe tone April 29, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

            Gio, in case you have not noticed your comments are offensive to some too? Please get off your high horse. As for M.T and his ‘disappearance’ I couldn’t care less one way or the other what has become of him, in fact his lack of comments recently have barely been noticed since your comments mainly mirror his.

            Btw, where is Jessica and Ryan? I hope they arnt sharing a cell with M.T too as that would be cruel. Bring back Norma and Neill, they were great craic.

          • giordanobruno April 29, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

            Expressing opinions which some take offence at is one thing but blatant personal abuse is pointless and juvenile eg ‘old tart’.
            If you do not care about MT that is up to you. Maybe you prefer a nice cosy site where everybody agrees with each other. Not me.
            My views are quite different from MTs but then you know that.
            As for Jessica and Ryan I imagine their exile was self imposed but I might be wrong.
            Perhaps they have also been disappeared.

          • billy April 29, 2017 at 2:57 pm #

            probably noticed the censorship,notice the drop in posts and posters.

  2. Kieran Maxwell April 29, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    Hi Joe,

    An interesting piece, but one error that I picked up on is where you say;

    “…the Catholic Encyclopaedia…fails to mention the best-known fact —that the church authorities burnt him alive at the stake.”

    You are in fact wrong. See an excerpt from the catholic encyclopaedia below, on paragraph 6 it states:


    “In the spring of 1599, the trial was begun before a commission of the Roman Inquisition, and, after the accused had been granted several terms of respite in which to retract his errors, he was finally condemned (January, 1600), handed over to the secular power (8 February), and burned at the stake in the Campo dei Fiori in Rome (17 February). Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were the following: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skilful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc.”

    How could you have missed it? Mmmmm , I hope this was a genuine overlook on your part and not an intentional mistake to portray the Church in a poor light!

  3. Eolach April 29, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

    Not being pedantic , Gio , but you seem a little peeved or miffed by the small epilogue in Joe’s blog…” Your jab at me in the end was hardly called for and a mite unchristian. ” …. although he didn’t mention names ,I think you were probably correct in assuming that he meant you ! …. Can I just say that your constant berating and castigating of a dead man is also a mite unchristian , …. and could hardly be termed balanced ….. as for the ‘ radical ‘ bit …take the opportunity offered by Jude , and let’s see how profound and wide ranging your views really are – I think I would enjoy that !.

    • giordanobruno April 29, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

      “(Another man with a variation of Bruno’s name is a regular correspondent on this site. He has nothing very radical or balanced to contribute.)”
      I’m pretty sure there are no other commenters here fitting that description.
      It is no big deal,but I would prefer actual debate rather than that sort of sniping.
      How am I berating or castigating McGuinness by pointing out the truth?
      The offer of doing a blog for Jude is generous but unnecessary and seems to be used as deflection if I’m honest.
      I have expressed my views frequently below the line and all too often it is met with whataboutery and manplaying.
      There is no requirement on any contributor to be balanced by the way.
      If there was the site would be completely empty.
      Do you think Jude balanced? Or Joe? Donal perhaps?
      Who here is balanced in your view?

  4. Eolach April 29, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

    Gio , you seem to be privy to privileged information not in the public domain.You have accused a dead man of heinous crimes not recorded in any court of law. I have accused you of beratement and castigation which you constantly deny….as I have said before ,neither you nor I are here to judge another human being’
    1/ In 1973 , Martin Mc Guinness was found guilty in Dublin’s Special Criminal Court of IRA membership . He was arrested for being in the vicinity of a car containing ammunition and explosives….that charge was unproven !
    2/ In 1974 , he was convicted again ,in the same non jury court of IRA membership
    These were the total crimes that both Dublin and London could manage against this man……I rest my case !

    • giordanobruno April 29, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

      No I did not accuse McGuinness of anything specific since he never revealed the details of what he did.
      But the activities of the IRA are well known and were not denied by him. He was complicit in them to some degree.
      Indeed he and all those who admire the IRA seem proud of them. It is only when we try to look at the detail that everyone goes quiet.

      • giordanobruno April 29, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

        Apologies for misspelling your name. iPad is to blame.

        • giordanobruno April 29, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

          Solace? Where did that come from?
          Sorry Eolach.

      • Emmet May 2, 2017 at 2:07 pm #

        Gio, you did accuse McGuinness or activities and I asked you to elaborate if you had information we did not. Also, why don’t you write a blog and then the statement may be proved wrong. At the minute it seems a fair statement- you only comment on a few issues and you always repeat the same attacks. I said it before, you will get respect if you say what you stand for, at the minute you (and argenta) only post to attack views without putting forward any position of your own. To me that is the definition of a troll- but maybe you don’t have the confidence to put your views out there? Maybe you don’t know what you stand for only what you are against? or something else?

        • giordanobruno May 2, 2017 at 2:55 pm #

          I can’t recall accusing him of specific actions, when was this?
          I think more likely I referred to what he and his comrades did which is well documented.
          Wouldn’t it have been good if McGuinnes, the good christian man that he was, had left a statement giving us the details of what he did and thus provide some closure for victims?
          I have put forward my views on numerous occasions but people only see what they want to see.
          But in the end Emmet you do not have to read my comments or reply to them.
          Also I think you are being unfair to Argenta who only posts very occasionally, having, I suspect, long since given up on any sensible discussion.

          • Emmet May 2, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

            Gio, I don’t think he would have left something that would have fed the hatred already directed at him and his family. He was more than willing to admit everything if the British came clean and there was a truth and reconciliation forum.

            If you look over your comments you will see were you tried to directly link him to several murders.

            Maybe Argenta has given up, but I can’t say I have seen any constructive discussion from him, only attack. If he has truly given up he wouldn’t post a reply surely? I don’t think he would come onto this site (unless he was just trolling).

            I look forward to some analysis from you in the near future.

  5. Eolach April 29, 2017 at 8:22 pm #

    Ok , Gio , different people with different perspectives…. I honestly believe that nothing would have progressed politically or socially without the intervention of the IRA. Today’s Unionists are as negative and backward thinking as they were in 1969….they constantly have to be dragged into a temporal reality. I believe in secularism …..your religious beliefs are a private affair and should in no way mix with politics……..Unionism has that lesson to learn yet.
    Unsurprisingly even today our dead are classed as second class , our language and culture is indignantly sneered at ….they seem to be oblivious to our needs or feelings…..it’s unimaginable to conceptualize where we would be without that republican imput and reminder.

    • giordanobruno April 29, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

      I agree about Unionism and their lack of progressive thinking. It is truly depressing, and will probably hasten their decline.
      I disagree fundamentally about the IRA. Their intervention proved disastrous in every way, in terms of lives destroyed, political progress, and the constitutional issue, in my view.
      We will have to agree to differ on that, but I would hope we can agree on the factual history of how they went about their business and the things that were done under the watch of Martin McGuinness.
      If you admire them you ought to be able to talk about the detail,not just the feelgood ideology.
      That is essentially the point I have tried to make in all the posts regarding the life of McGuinness.

  6. Eolach April 30, 2017 at 6:21 am #

    I’m a person ,although not a Humanist, I have humanistic beliefs …..I abhor all loss of life , period ! I certainly look back with regret at the loss and ponder that unanswerable question…..Was there an easier way ? I don’t think so . Hindsight has given us revelations ,if not the answer……Unionism and the British are as entrenched and obdurate today as they were 60 years ago…..although not as visible as then , more a rumbling below the surface…they de facto are saying we are unable ,or have not the right to decide our own future without their preconditions. By 1969 zero hour was reached , Unionism was blind and Britain was apparently oblivious to the crisis….The IRA were a result of and a reaction to that racist ( and sectarian ) intransigence …..they were born from a recognition and a realization that Unionism was giving nothing…if you want change and betterment you have to fight for it ! Martin Mc Guinness and countless others didn’t thoughtlessly ,or recklessly decide to take up arms , it was a long , torturous decision making and life changing process….once that commitment was made you knew your life could be ended at any moment , not the irrational thinking of crazed and psychotic gunmen. They knew that they were heavily outnumbered and outgunned but , like the men of 1916 , decided it was the last resort……yes I have admiration for him and those countless others , I believe there was no other way !

    • giordanobruno April 30, 2017 at 8:10 am #

      I disagree entirely. Not only was it not the only way,it was counter-productive.
      However I will not change your mind and you are entitled to believe what you do.
      All I would like is to see acknowledgement of the true cost of their decision to take up arms.
      They made a choice and it is they are responsible for their own actions.
      Time and again I read pieces about their sacrifice and their lives with no mention of the lives they took
      And from Joe McVeigh campaigner for victims; what does he say about the victims of McGuinness and the Derry Brigade?
      Not one word.

  7. Argenta April 30, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    Fr Mc Veigh
    I note that you refer to Ray Darcy as a “dumbo”.Is there any reason for this derogatory remark or perhaps it’s just the current Sinn Fein line on R T E.

  8. Eolach April 30, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

    Obviously , Gio , you have no comprehension of what happened here….you keep on taking particles of information …..absorbing them , and then trying to disseminate them….you are either an ” Agent provocateur ” or a complete arsehole….either way my communication with you , and your limited intelligence , is terminated …..one cannot interact with an amoeba….Slán

    • giordanobruno April 30, 2017 at 7:03 pm #

      Just when I thought we were approaching a civil conversation you had to go and start name calling.
      Don’t worry though, Jude doesn’t seem to mind.

  9. joe bloggs May 2, 2017 at 8:31 am #

    Gio – equality is only a Trojan horse to break the bastards….did you not get the memo?

    • giordanobruno May 2, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

      I’m not in the circle of trust!