Irish Archbishops' response
to Irish Times' query about Pontifical Irish College, Rome, June 11th, 2012
MATTERS RELATING to the apostolic visitation are the responsibility of the Holy See, as was stated at the outset of the visitation process.
The trustees of the Pontifical Irish College, Rome: Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop Dermot Clifford and Archbishop Michael Neary, do not comment on information from anonymous sources.
As part of the process involved in the visitation to the Irish College, Rome, the trustees were given an initial report by the Holy See. This initial report contained some serious errors of fact, including named individuals. Attentive to the importance of applying due process, and respecting the rights of those named in this initial report, the trustees made a detailed and considered response to the Holy See.
With regard to seminaries, the Summary of the findings of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland, published on March 20th, 2012, contained the following main observations by the Holy See:
“1) The visitation was able to establish that there are dedicated formators in Irish seminaries, committed to the work of priestly training. The seminarians themselves were generally praised for their human and spiritual qualities and for their motivation and commitment to the church and her mission. Studies are taken seriously, and attention is given to human and spiritual formation.
“2) Each seminary has clear child protection norms in place and the Irish seminaries are committed to educating future priests with a broad understanding of all that is involved in the protection of minors within the church.”
The trustees of the college are currently working to address the remaining observations raised by the apostolic visitators in their published summary of last March – see below. For example, it has been decided to expand the number of trustees of the Pontifical Irish College, Rome, from four to eight.
The findings contained the following observations by the Holy See:
“For the further improvement of the seminaries, it has been proposed, wherever necessary:
a. to ensure that the formation provided is rooted in authentic priestly identity, offering a more systematic preparation for a life of priestly celibacy by maintaining a proper equilibrium between human, spiritual and ecclesial dimensions;
b. to reinforce structures of Episcopal governance over the seminaries;
c. to introduce more consistent admission criteria – this would involve the seminary, in consultation with the dioceses, examining and deciding admissibility of candidates;
d. to show greater concern for the intellectual formation of seminarians, ensuring that it is in full conformity with the church’s magisterium;
e. to include in the academic programme indepth formation on matters of child protection, with increased pastoral attention to victims of sexual abuse and their families;
f. to re-evaluate the pastoral programme, ensuring that it is sacramental, priestly and apostolic, and duly concerned with preparing candidates to celebrate the sacraments and to preaching, to ensure that the seminary buildings be exclusively for seminarians of the local church and those preparing them for the priesthood, to ensure a well-founded priestly identity.”