Maynooth seminary to review social media use by trainee priests

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin leaving Maynooth Seminary.

Trustees at the seminary in Maynooth are to conduct a review into the use by trainee priests of the internet and social media as part of efforts to limit “any sort of behaviour or attitude which contradicts the teaching and example of Jesus Christ”.

The review and evaluation of social media use by seminarians comes after Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he would not be sending any of his trainee priests to study in Maynooth this autumn amid reports some students were using the gay dating app Grindr.

The seminarians from the country’s largest Catholic diocese are instead to be sent to the Irish College in Rome.

A statement issued yesterday the Trustees of the National Seminary — of which Archbishop Martin is a member — welcomed 14 new seminarians and also outlined measures being introduced to avoid any repeat of the recent controversy.

It includes a review of policies surrounding whistle-blowing and an assessment of personnel and resource needs at the seminary, as well as asking seminary authorities to review policies regarding appropriate use of the internet.

“Acknowledging the recent and extensive media coverage regarding the college, and the disquiet that it has caused amongst the faithful, the trustees emphasise that the Church has clear instructions on the formation of seminarians,” the trustees said.

“It is essential these are observed in order to form priests ‘after the heart of the Good Shepherd’ (cf Jer 3.15). There is no place in a seminary community for any sort of behaviour or attitude which contradicts the teaching and example of Jesus Christ.

“The trustees share the concerns about the unhealthy atmosphere created by anonymous accusations together with some social media comments which can be speculative or even malicious.

"Persons with specific concerns are encouraged to report them appropriately as soon as possible.”

Maynooth seminary to review social media use by trainee priests

In addition, the trustees asked the Bishops’ Conference to commission an independent audit of governance in Irish seminaries and to urgently develop a uniform national policy for admissions, as well as the introduction of a pre-seminary year for all applicants.

It also wants to establish a subcommittee to examine “the pastoral needs of priestly training in contemporary Ireland”, citing a recent recommendation of Pope Francis.


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