Irish College in Rome changes staff after apostolic visitation

The Irish College Rome Italy Credit Peter Clarke CC BY SA 30 CNA500x315 World Catholic News 5 10 12 The Pontifical Irish College in Rome. | Peter Clarke (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Three of the four senior staff members at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome are stepping down from their posts after a Vatican investigation concluded Ireland’s seminaries are not doing enough to promote Catholic orthodoxy.

“In colleges there is a constant changeover, maybe after the Apostolic Visitation it is not a bad idea to bring in new people, new ideas and move forward,” Archbishop Diarmuid  Martin of Dublin told CNA on May 10 in Rome.
Today’s announcement comes in the wake of the March 2012 publication of a two-year investigation – officially called an apostolic visitation -- into the health of the Irish Church. The visitation of Irish seminaries was led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

While the report praised Irish seminary staff for being “dedicated formators” who were “committed to the work of priestly training,” it also called for a “greater concern for the intellectual formation of seminarians” to ensure that their education was “in full conformity with the Church’s Magisterium.”
The report also recommended that the pastoral training of seminarians be re-evaluated to ensure “it is sacramental, priestly and apostolic” and concerned with “preparing candidates to celebrate the sacraments and to preach.”
Overall, the visitation found that the renewal of the Catholic Church in Ireland was being hampered by “a certain tendency, not dominant but nevertheless fairly widespread among priests, religious and laity, to hold theological opinions at variance with the teachings of the Magisterium.”
The change of guard at the Irish College in Rome will involve the vice rector, Father Albert McDonnell; the director of formation,Father Billy Swan; and the college’s spiritual director, Father Chris Hayden. They will all return to their respective dioceses at the conclusion of this academic year and received new assignments.

The Trustees of the Irish College, (the four archbishops of Ireland) will announce new appointments after they meet later this month.
Archbishop Martin pointed out to CNA that the spiritual director had already “asked to be relieved due to health reasons,” while the vice rector was serving beyond his term of office.

Last year, Father Ciaran O’Carroll took over as the seminary’s rector from Monsignor Liam Bergin, who had held the post for 10 years. He is now teaching theology at Boston College in the United States.

In a May 10 statement, Fr. O’Carroll thanked his three departing colleagues for their contribution to the college’s life and wished them “every blessing and success in their new appointments and for the future.”

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