Irish College staff in Rome given no right of reply
For good measure he added that the replacement should be “neither” of the two priests considered most likely to suceed.
A second priest at the college had “created mistrust in the community”. He “should move on”, the cardinal said. A third priest appeared to seminarians to be “overworked, unprepared”. He should “be replaced”.
The fourth priest on the staff seemed “reluctant to address the unique identity of the priest”. He should “continue”, but “seek some further education in his field”. A priest who made occasional presentations at the college should be replaced.
The fate of these priests seems to have been decided upon, based almost entirely on one side of the story as told to Cardinal Dolan and his team. There is not a court in the world where a case based on such “evidence” would even be heard.
To compound this injustice, the priests complained of were not even entitled to see his report on them or the recommendations he made about them to the Vatican.
That, of course, has not stopped those recommendations being acted upon, and with some alacrity. By the end of this academic year all staff who had been at the Irish College seminary when Cardinal Dolan and his team visited there will be gone.
He also does the college no great favour in another context. He refers to the injustice of a perception that it had a reputation for being “gay-friendly”. Then, “for the sake of thoroughness”, he quotes at length three cases reported at the college involving foreign seminarians which may or may not have involved homosexual intent. It is not at all clear. He names names throughout.
The more concrete fourth case involved two named Irish students, one of whom was dismissed for paying “undue attention” and making “improper advances” to another.
Having lavished much space on these cases, where there was not one actual incident of homosexual activity, he was “eager” to underline that he “did not find any evidence of rampant immorality, or a homosexual subculture” at the college.
Rather, he found, “that the overwhelming majority of the seminarians are committed to a faithful, chaste lifestyle”.
So why all the rigmarole over homosexuality in his report then?
He could have dismissed gossip in the same pithy way he dealt with the staff, or with child protection at the college.
In his entire 17-page report, child protection merits just two three-line paragraphs. One outlined the personnel involved. The second said that child and youth protection at the college was “inadequate”. No explanation is provided, no grounds given, no seminarian quoted. Just simple assertion.
And there is nowhere near the detail on child protection in his report comparable to that on the “unjust” perception of the college as gay-friendly or advice by seminarians that staff might be less than orthodox theologically.
Child protection is not the real focus in this report. Cardinal Dolan and his team, it seems, had bigger fish to fry.
PATSY McGARRYis Religious Affairs Correspondent for The Irish Times