Archbishop Diarmuid Martin says seminaries are ‘strange’ and 'closed' worlds

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said seminaries can be “strange” and “closed” worlds.

He was talking yesterday following reports he will not be sending trainee priests to study at the national seminary in Maynooth this autumn.

His decision on trainee priests from Dublin came amid serious allegations about goings-on in the Co Kildare seminary.

“There are allegations of different sides,” he said.

“One is that there is a homosexual, a gay, culture that students have been using an app called Grindr, which is a gay dating app, which would be inappropriate for seminarians not just because they’re training to be celibate priests but because an app like that is something that would be fostering promiscuous sexuality, which is certainly not in any way the mature vision of sexuality that one would expect priests to understand.”

Archbishop Martin also said that another allegation related to the handling of whistleblowers in the seminary.

“On the other hand, there are people saying: ‘Well, anybody who tries to go to the authorities with an allegation, then they’re being dismissed from the seminary’,” he said.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

However, despite these two sets of allegations, it was how the accusations were being made that spurred him on to make his decision to stop sending his trainee priests in Dublin to Maynooth.

He said that the sending of “anonymous letters” was a “poisonous” act.

“I made this decision some months ago, about an atmosphere that was growing in Maynooth and which you’d learn about through anonymous accusations, letters, and blogs, accusing people of either misconduct or accusing the faculty of Maynooth as not treating allegations correctly,” he said.

“I felt that a quarrelsome attitude of that kind was not the healthiest place for my students to be and I decided I’d send them to the Irish college [in Rome].

“A culture of anonymous letters is poisonous — until that’s cleared up I’d be happier sending my students elsewhere.”

Archbishop Martin on RTE Radio One yesterday, for the first time, about the Maynooth allegations since news broke about them on Sunday.

The Dublin archbishop, separate to the allegations and their anonymous nature, said the seminary in Maynooth needed structural reform.

“One of the things about Maynooth is that it is a very comfortable seminary,” he said. “People have their breakfast, dinner, and tea served up to them and I would probably want a more challenging one, where there’s a strong integration and dialogue between those who are responsible for formation and the students.

“I think a lot more structural reform will be needed in Maynooth.

“I feel that for the situation in Dublin we probably need a different way in the long term.

“Maynooth could continue as a theological faculty, the students could go there but the formation, I believe, would be better outside the closed, strange, world of seminaries.”


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