Archbishop stops trainee priests going to Maynooth

Alleged sexual harrassment at St Patrick’s College reported to Garda in Dublin

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: “atmosphere of strange goings-on.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: “atmosphere of strange goings-on.” Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin is to cease sending trainee priests from the diocese to St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, because of a worrying “atmosphere” at the national seminary.

Meanwhile a former Maynooth seminarian has in recent days made a complaint to the Garda in Dublin about alleged sexual harassment at the college between 2007 and 2009.

Asked why Dublin is to send its three seminary students next autumn to the Irish College in Rome rather than to Maynooth, Dr Martin told The Irish Times he “wasn’t happy” with Maynooth.

“There seems to be an atmosphere of strange goings-on there, it seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around,” he said in Krakow, Poland, where he was attending World Youth Day. “I don’t think this is a good place for students. However, when I informed the president of Maynooth of my decision, I did add ‘at least for the moment’.”

Anonymous allegations

Dr Martin’s decision follows anonymous allegations being circulated about seminarian activities in Maynooth, including that some had been using a gay dating app.

He made no comment on those reports, saying only that he felt the Irish College in Rome offered “a good grounding” in the Catholic faith.

Irish College rector Msgr Ciarán O’Carroll confirmed the three Dublin seminarians would be “transferring” there, adding this was normal practice as this was the time of year when bishops nominated students for the college.

Last year, 12 Irish seminarians studied at the college along with 38 international priests who lived there while pursuing postgraduate studies. Maynooth currently has 55 seminarians.

A former Maynooth seminarian told The Irish Times yesterday how, as a seminarian there from 2007-2009, he felt he was being continuously sexually harassed by an individual. He made a formal complaint to authorities. An internal inquiry was set up which found the allegations unproven.

Senior church figures

College authorities tried to persuade him to forget it and stay on but he said he felt so aggrieved he could not. He brought his complaints to other senior church figures and it was suggested he might attend a seminary abroad.

Now in his mid 30s, he is married and works in Dublin.

He said it remained a concern to him that the individual about whom he had complained at Maynooth never faced any discipline, while a seminarian who witnessed an incident he complained about was badly treated later.

While the great majority of seminarians in St Patrick’s, whatever their sexual orientation, were genuine about celibacy and their vocation, a minority were sexually active. He claimed there was “an active gay clique” involved “in clandestine gay activity” and there were also “very active heterosexuals who were very open about it”.

Efforts to contact Maynooth yesterday about his allegations proved unsuccessful.