An Irish priest has claimed he is being threatened with excommunication from the Catholic Church for supporting an open discussion on issues like women's ordination.

Father Tony Flannery has called on the Irish bishops to state publicly what they think about the disciplining of priests like himself.

He blamed the breakdown of his year-long exchanges with the Church authorities on the intervention of Archbishop Gerhard Muller.

Archbishop Muller who took over as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in July last year.

Fr Flannery told a news conference in Dublin that the German Archbishop had raised the bar for his readmission to active ministry by demanding he accept the Vatican's ban on debate on women's ordination and a pledge to support all Church teaching on sexual matters.

Fr Flannery said he could not sign the Vatican's pledge without violating his conscience and that his suspension from the priesthood is likely to continue indefinitely.

A statement by the Irish Redemptorist Community said it was “deeply saddened” by the breakdown in communication between Fr Flannery and the CDF and expressed hope that an agreed resolution could be found.

It said: “It is of immense regret that some structures or processes of dialogue have not yet been found in the Church which have a greater capacity to engage with challenging voices from among God's people, while respecting the key responsibility and central role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”