Two trainee priests sent back to Ireland after being found in bed together
Future of the seminarians unclear after they are sent home from Irish College in Rome
In August 2016 the Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin said he would no longer send trainee priests from the diocese to St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, because of a worrying ‘atmosphere’ at the national seminary. Photograph: Getty Images
Two seminarians at the Irish College in Rome have been sent home by the rector after being found in bed together.
It is understood both men had been drinking earlier at an event marking the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which banned artificial means of contraception.
It is unclear whether either man will be permitted to resume studies for the priesthood. A spokesman for the Catholic bishops said it was “not appropriate to comment about individuals” when asked about the matter.
In August 2016, the Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin said he would no longer send trainee priests from the diocese to St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, because of a worrying “atmosphere” at the national seminary.
He said he intended instead sending trainees from Dublin to the Irish College in Rome as it offered “a good grounding” in the Catholic faith.
As regards Maynooth, he said “there seems to be an atmosphere of strange goings-on there, it seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around”.
Speaking in Krakow, Poland, where he was attending World Youth Day, he said: “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’.”
His decision followed anonymous allegations then being circulated about seminarian activities in Maynooth, including that some had been using a gay dating app.
Earlier in 2016, there was controversy at St Patrick’s College when a seminarian who claimed he found two colleagues in bed together was dismissed.
It followed an inquiry into allegations by the two seminarians alleged to have been in bed together that he was bullying them and talking about them.
More generally at the college it was claimed that a core of seminarians were active on the gay app Grindr and that some had been engaged in sexual activity with priests of the Dublin archdiocese.
In 2009, a complaint was made to Maynooth authorities by a seminarian from Dublin alleging sexual harassment against another adult at St Patrick’s College. An internal inquiry found the allegation unproven.
The complainant was asked to return to Maynooth but felt he could not. When he took the allegation to senior church figures outside Maynooth, it was proposed to him that he might go to Rome and complete his studies there. He decided not to do so.