Maynooth trustees to discuss crisis at national seminary

College mired in controversy after Archbishop’s remarks

The trustees of St Patrick's College Maynooth are to meet before the end of August to address the crisis at the seminary.

It is understood the Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin, who is away, has been in contact with Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin and St Patrick's College president Msgr Hugh Connolly.

The college has been at the centre of controversy for more than a week since it emerged Archbishop Martin was no longer going to send Dublin seminarians to it because of the “poisonous” atmosphere. He said students were accessing gay dating apps and anonymous letters were being circulated accusing seminarians of misconduct.

The college trustees are the four Catholic Archbishops in Ireland and 13 diocesan bishops.

A spokesman for the bishops has clarified that Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan will allow a seminarian from the diocese to continue studies at Maynooth. The man concerned "is happy there".

It had been reported Dr Cullinan would be sending seminarians to the Irish College in Rome in future, as the Archbishop of Dublin intends doing. Dr Cullinan sent a seminarian to study in Rome last year and two more are going this year.

A spokesman said the bishop believed studying in Maynooth and Rome “is the optimum route to take to get the best of learning experiences from the national and universal church”.

Couple in bed

Meanwhile, a seminarian allegedly at the centre of a case which led to the dismissal of a peer from Maynooth in May claimed it was based on “a misunderstanding” by the expelled man.

Seminarian “A” was called before the authorities as a result of complaints by two colleagues who alleged he had bullied and talked about them.

Shortly before, “A” claimed he called to one of the complainant’s rooms, knocked on the door and entered to find both complainants in bed having sex.

“A” was unsure what to do. He discussed it with another seminarian and both decided it was best not to report it to college authorities. Word spread. An anonymous letter was sent to the bishop of one of the two men in bed, detailing the incident. “A” was accused by one of the men of sending the anonymous letter to his bishop, which “A” insisted he had not done.

This man reported “A” to college authorities for bullying, telling lies and writing anonymous letters about him.

At a hearing with college authorities “A” said he had found his accuser having sex with another seminarian and that had given rise to the complaints.

Dismissed from college

He was told by the authorities that even if he had not been telling lies and writing anonymous letters, he was in trouble anyhow as he should have reported the men to college authorities after he found them in bed. He was dismissed from the college.

One of the men “A” claimed to have found in bed with another said “this allegation was unsubstantiated after an investigation was held by seminary authorities and I believe it was based on a misunderstanding”.

He described it as “a false allegation that has brought much distress to me and my family”.

He did so in a letter to former Catholic priest bishop Pat Buckley who published it on his blog.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times