He's a member of the Redemptorist order, and writes a column for the Redemptorist magazine, Reality, or did until two days ago, whereupon Pope Benedict "silenced" him.
Flannery takes generally liberal views. He supports women priests--"more people would come to Mass." He also supports ending the ban on contraception, and ending celibacy. He supported the government in its crackdown on the Irish church after the Irish sex scandals became public knowledge.
The Vatican now forbids Flannery to write anything related to church doctrine. All future issues of Reality have to be approved by the Vatican. Flannery has been sent to a monastery for six weeks of "prayer and contemplation."
In the wake of the Irish church's child sex abuse scandal, support for the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has plummeted in recent years. One of the few to emerge from the scandal with his reputation intact, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, said that silencing Flannery was an attempt at “heresy hunting.”
The 800-member Association of Irish Priests, representing about 20% of Ireland's 4000 priests, said it was "disturbed" by the silencing, and "expresses solidarity" with Fr. Flannery.
We affirm in the strongest possible terms our confidence in and solidarity with Fr Flannery and we wish to make clear our profound view that this intervention is unfair, unwarranted and unwise.
The disciplining of Fr. Flannery comes after the report of the summary findings of the Vatican’s apostolic visitation to Ireland. The visitation was ordered by Pope Benedict to examine the condition of the Irish church in the wake of the clergy child sex scandals.
The visitation was made up of senior bishops. Their report, says the Irish Times, was critical of what it described as a “fairly widespread” tendency among priests, religious, and laity to hold theological opinions “at variance” with the teachings of the church.
In other words, the Irish church covered up hundreds of crimes against Irish children over the decades, and, when they get found out, worry about "damage control" and conclude that the problem is liberal priests who get out of line.
Then they wonder why people don't want to have anything to do with them any more.