Irish college suffers from unjust 'gay' reputation', says prelate
CARDINAL TIMOTHY Dolan’s report on the Irish College in Rome has found that “the college suffers from the reputation of being ‘gay friendly’, however unjust such a reputation might be.” It said that “a recent series (four by the Apostolic Visitor’s count) of homosexually directed improprieties have been reported at the college.”
The Apostolic Visitor “carefully examined each episode with the aggrieved student and the rector. Knowledge of these episodes, as well as of some others from the past, is widespread among the seminarians, and the priests and bishops back in Ireland, giving an unfortunate and undeserved reputation of ‘softness’ on homosexuality at the College.”
It said that “recent episodes (of the last year-and-a-half) build on allegations from years past” which were reported to the visitation team by a named priest who investigated them at the request of Cardinal Seán Brady and the college rector.
It continued that “some past students – none of whom are now at the college – admitted to the priest who investigated the matter at the time “that they had frequented ‘gay bars’. A former rector from decades ago is now unwelcome at the College as a result of allegations of impropriety.”
For “the sake of thoroughness” the report detailed four cases reported at the college since September 2009. Three concerned non-Irish students with the fourth involved two Irish seminarians. In all four cases the seminarians are named in the cardinal’s report.
In one case a seminarian accused another of improper touching but it was found the accuser had a history of fabricating stories. In a second case a non-Irish deacon at the college reported “a sense of discomfort” over attempts “by a student priest . . . to get close to him”. The rector intervened and the matter ended there.
A third case concerned an Italian seminarian with “an unfortunate reputation as a flamboyant homosexual, with some students reporting outrageous remarks of sexual attraction for other seminarians”. On investigation it was found this seminarian may have been “a victim of unjust gossip”.
An undertaking was given by the rector to the cardinal, however, that the matter would be investigated further.
The remaining case concerned an Irish seminarian (named) who reported to his bishop in Ireland during the summer of 2010 that he was “very troubled by undue attention and improper advances by another seminarian (named)”.
The accused seminarian was dismissed and his accuser “has now returned to continue his formation”, the cardinal’s report noted.
The cardinal went on to state in the report that he was “eager to underline that he did not find any evidence of rampant immorality, or a homosexual subculture, and that the overwhelming majority of the seminarians are committed to a faithful, chaste lifestyle, and upset by the undeserved perception that the college now tolerates deviant behaviour. Likewise, he is convinced that the staff in no way condones such conduct.”
However, his report went on to say that “the staff did seem slow and uncertain in their response to these recent episodes, and a few seminarians who reported the inappropriate behaviour felt that they were treated with suspicion.
“The climate of the house suffers when the students see the offending man remaining too long in the community or, in the cases when the offender is dismissed, hear that the perpetrator ‘might return’ or is still in formation for the priesthood, or lay ecclesial ministry, elsewhere.”
The cardinal recommended “that once a reported offence is determined with moral certainty . . . the offender must be dismissed, even if the reporting victim is opposed”.
Such a victim should be told of this and be “assured that the dismissed seminarian is no longer in formation elsewhere.”
He also recommended that a “clear protocol on these matters” be developed and “published in the seminary manual, encouraging seminarians to report such incidents immediately to the rector . . . ”