Martin: Maynooth must change as ‘we’re in a different world’

Archbishop says response to radical change in religious culture needs `more than just tweaking’

The Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said Maynooth seminary "has to change, not just because of current allegations but because of the fact that we're living in a different world."

The change that has been taking place in Irish culture and Irish religious culture is radical change and the response to radical change has to be ‘more than just tweaking’, he said.

St Patrick’s seminary in Maynooth is not to be condemned, but it is not to be canonised either, Dr Martin said on Thursday.

“I’ve never criticised the teaching in Maynooth, this is something people have said is behind my activity, that isn’t what I’ve been talking about at all.


He was speaking after the college’s board of trustees announced yesterday that there will be a review of social media policies and procedures for handling whistleblowers at the following allegations of trainee priests using dating apps.

During a meeting in Maynooth on Tuesday, the board also asked the Irish Bishops’ Conference which is based in St Patrick’s College to commission an independent audit and report into the governance of Irish seminaries.

Dr Martin previously said he intends to send seminarians from his archdiocese to the Pontifical Irish College in Rome instead of the national seminary at Maynooth because of concerns about “strange goings-on” in St Patrick’s.

Speaking to RTE’s Morning Ireland on Thursday: “I think the faculty in Maynooth is a good faculty. When you announce reform, reform becomes more radical as you begin to address the questions. Different aspects will emerge

“I believe we need a good strong theological faculty in Maynooth, it needs to be strengthened, but theology is not simply about telling people what to do. I quoted from the gospel when Philip meets Bartholemew he says we’ve met the messiah and he doubts and he ways come and see, that’s what we have to train people in.

“Theology which helps people to come, to reflect, to see and to link that to the realities of the world, the change that is taking place, closing the religious institutions in Drumcondra - is that the end of an era, yes, the church has gone through many eras and very often when it begins to radically look where it is, it comes up with different answers and the church changes and adapts while still maintaining its teachings.”

Dr Martin said that new times require new institutions and that includes a whole range of institutions of the church in Ireland.

“In the past the church invested in bricks and mortar, solid buildings which were the way to train people to work as priests, lay people or teachers. Buildings are no longer just bricks and mortar, buildings have soft walls, buildings are flexible, so many dimensions of church life have to respond to that including the seminaries.

“But the seminary is only part of that,” he said.

He added that the Bishop’s statement mentioned new ways of screening candidates, of training candidates. “I believe that candidates for priesthood will come from lively faith communities, but their training has to be close to those communities.

“It’s an announcement, but it has to be followed and implemented as you go along. Maybe you find you have to do more, maybe you have to do things in a different way. The important thing is that the decisions are there and that they are implemented.

“I believe that one way or another seminaries will remain, but in a different way and much of the preparation for priests will take place outside the walls of the seminary within the realities of the life in which people live.

“I personally believe that for priests who are going to live and work in Dublin much more of their training should be in the realities of the very varied Dublin life that’s there and the varied religious culture.”