Maynooth seminary ‘trapped in an old vision’, says Archbishop of Dublin

Diarmuid Martin calls for radical reform of St Patrick’s College, of which he is a trustee

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who is due to retire next April aged 75, said  he does not know who his successor will be, but that  Archbishop’s House in Drumcondra will be sold in the future.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who is due to retire next April aged 75, said he does not know who his successor will be, but that Archbishop’s House in Drumcondra will be sold in the future. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The Catholic Church’s national seminary at Maynooth is “still trapped in an old vision”, according to the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

Along with the other three Catholic archbishops in Ireland, and 13 diocesan bishops, Dr Martin is a trustee of St Patrick’s College and its associated university.

He said St Patrick’s is “far too weak” and needs radical reform.

“Where does it stand? What role does it play in the overall intellectual ethos of the country?” he asked. “Whatever the solution, it must be very different to what we have today.

“The seminary and university are still trapped in an old vision. It’s going to be quite different, I hope,” he said.

Dr Martin also indicated that Archbishop’s House in Drumcondra, which is not currently on the market, will be sold in the future.

“I would doubt my successor would move in [there],” he said.

Last month it emerged that the archdiocese is to receive about € 95 million from the GAA for its 19.12 acres beside Archbishop’s House, on the site of the old Holy Cross seminary, Clonliffe, near Croke Park.

Monies from the sale are to fund vocations and formation of lay people and priests in the archdiocese.

Successor

Dr Martin, who is to retire next April on reaching the age of 75, does not know when the name of his successor will be announced. “The pope is the only one who makes that [decision],” he said. “It is unlikely that it would be done well in advance of my 75th. It’s usually done after.”

We need a new generation. We’ve got a great crowd of priests of a particular age

As to whether he might be persuaded to stay on, he said that was a decision for Pope Francis.

“We need a new generation. We’ve got a great crowd of priests [in Dublin] of a particular age. The changes I’ve been making in the diocesan administration give them a role to play. Nobody goes on forever. Some will be very happy to see me go.”

He hoped that when the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation report is published next spring, the words of Pope Francis in Ireland last year would be “flying high in the responses of the church”, he said.

In a homily at Mass in the Pro Cathedral on Sunday, he recalled how the pope had then spoken “about the difficulties experienced by single mothers trying to find their children, and children trying to find their mothers and who at times were told that such searching was a mortal sin”.

‘Fourth commandment’

“His response was simple but sharp and unequivocal: ‘that was not mortal sin, it was the fourth commandment.’ Honour your father and mother.”

There was also Francis’s warning to Ireland’s bishops to “not repeat the attitudes of aloofness and clericalism that at times in your history have given the real image of an authoritarian, harsh and autocratic church”.

Dr Martin added: “I don’t see it quoted enough.”

During the Mass he and Pro Cathedral administrator Fr Kieran McDermott unveiled a plaque commemorating the visit of Pope Francis at the St Joseph altar there on August 25th last year.

As the archbishop said in his homily, it was where Francis “prayed in silence before a candle that has been burning for some years now recalling the suffering of those who were abused within the Church.

“That candle is special to me in that it was not my idea or the idea of the Church establishment, but of survivors themselves.”