Catholic bishops voice their support for Maynooth

Leading clerics back St Patrick’s College amid controversy

Fourteen of the 26 Catholic diocesan bishops in Ireland have so far indicated they will continue to send seminarians to Maynooth, with some saying they will also send trainee priests to the Irish College in Rome.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said this week he had decided not to send seminarians to Maynooth due to “an atmosphere of strange goings-on there”.

He said it seemed like “a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around”, adding, “I don’t think this is a good place for students.”

Dublin seminarians would go to the Irish College in Rome instead.


Following the archbishop’s comments, The Irish Times emailed bishops asking if they intended to continue sending their seminarians to Maynooth.

Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran said he would be guided "by the particular formation needs and personal aptitudes of the individual concerned".

Bishop Leo O'Reilly of Kilmore and Bishop Brendan Kelly of Achonry are away. Bishop of Killala John Fleming said he had no seminarians currently.

Rome college

Of the others, it is known Archbishop Martin and Bishop

Alphonsus Cullinan





have decided to send their future seminarians to the Irish College in Rome.

Six diocesan bishops have not responded to the email: Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown, Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, Bishop of Meath Michael Smith, Bishop of Ferns Denis Brennan, Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy, and the recently appointed administrator of Galway diocese Canon Michael McLoughlin.

The bishops who have said they will continue sending seminarians to Maynooth are led by the Catholic primate, Archbishop Eamon Martin.

He recalled how a priest from the archdiocese had recently been ordained and said: “We are extremely grateful to Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, for the spiritual, human, pastoral and academic formation that he received there.

“We ask for prayers for all our seminarians and for those entrusted with the task of their formation.”

Real or imaginary

Both Archbishop of


Michael Neary

and Archbishop of


Kieran O’Reilly responded they too would continue to send seminarians to Maynooth, as did Bishop of Cork and

Ross John Buckley

, Bishop of Down and

Connor Noel Treanor

and Bishop of


and Clonmacnois

Francis Duffy


Doing likewise will be Bishop of Cloyne William Crean, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Denis Nulty, Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby, Bishop of Clogher Liam McDaid, administrator of Killaloe diocese Fr Des Hillery, Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce, Bishop of Kerry Raymond Browne, and administrator of Ossory diocese Msgr Michael Ryan.

They are supported by the Association of Catholic Priests, who said, “the damage this controversy will do to Maynooth is not in the best interest of the Irish church”.

The association said “the response to whatever the crisis is – real or imaginary – demands more than moving a few students to Rome and offering a few unconvincing reasons for the decision”.

Meanwhile, a group, Voices Against Maynooth Abuse, has been set up by a former seminarian who alleges he was sexually harassed there between 2007 and 2009. This week, he made a statement to gardaí.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times