“That's not a healthy culture. We have to find a way where people will come forward with solid hard evidence which can be used to follow up allegations,” Archbishop Martin stated.
He offered that St. Patrick's College's formation staff “have to find a way to let people come forward with solid evidence to substantiate the allegations.”
“There seems to an atmosphere of strange goings-on there; it seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around…I felt that a quarrelsome attitude of that kind was not the healthiest place to be, so I sent them to the Irish College.”
Archbishop Martin said that “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.'”
“I think a lot more structural reform will be needed at Maynooth,” the archbishop reflected.
Msgr. Hugh Connolly, president of St. Patrick's College, has said that with no public complaints, no investigation has been made. He told RTE following Archbishop Martin's interview that the allegations of a gay culture at the seminary made him “very unhappy,” citing the requirement of priestly celibacy.
He added that “the broader atmosphere is, I think, actually quite a wholesome, healthy one because there are a lot of interplay between students of many, many disciplines, lay students and clerics, male and female, people who are engaged pastorally.”
St. Patrick's College told The Irish Times that it “has no concrete or credible evidence of the existence of any alleged 'active gay subculture',” and that it is “not true that seminarians are prohibited from reporting misbehaviour or concerns.”
The college added that it “will be reviewing current policies and procedures with a view to enhancing structures for reporting concerns or/and misbehavior so as to discourage recourse to anonymous correspondence while taking care to ensure due process and justice.”
St. Patrick's College has been defended in recent days by the Association of Catholic Priests – which aims at, among other things, “a redesigning of Ministry in the Church, in order to incorporate the gifts … of the entire faith community, male and female.”
An Aug. 2 statement by the ACP said St. Patrick's College "has become a focus of unfair and unwarranted attention", and charged that “the anti-Maynooth issue is being driven by a number of agendas.”
(Story continues below)
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These agendas, the ACP said, include “conservative commentators”, “former students who were deemed unsuitable for priesthood by the seminary authorities”, “right-wing commentators who are unhappy with the focus on the theology of the Second Vatican Council”, and “writers of blogs”.
Other Irish bishops have said they will continue sending seminarians to St. Patrick's College.
According to The Irish Times, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh said: “We are extremely grateful to Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, for the spiritual, human, pastoral and academic formation that he received there.”
Archbishop Martin of Dublin has been joined in his decision to remove seminarians from Maynooth, however, by Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of Waterford and Lismore.
An apostolic visitation of the Church in Ireland which concluded in 2012 found that “fairly widespread” dissent from Catholic teaching is hampering its renewal.
The visitation called for, wherever necessary, assurance that formation would be “rooted in authentic priestly identity, offering a more systematic preparation for a life of priestly celibacy by maintaining a proper equilibrium between human, spiritual and ecclesial dimensions” and showing “greater concern for the intellectual formation of seminarians, ensuring that it is in full conformity with the Church’s Magisterium.”