The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has announced that he will not send trainee priests from his own diocese, the largest in Ireland, to the national seminary at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
When asked about his decision to send three seminary students from Dublin to the Irish Pontifical College in Rome instead of Maynooth later this autumn, Dr Martin said “I wasn’t happy with Maynooth…”
"I have my own reasons for doing this," the Archbishop continued. “There seems to an atmosphere of strange goings-on there, it seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around. I don’t think this is a good place for students,” he said.
Martin made his assessment after a series of anonymous letters alleging inappropriate behavior among some of the seminarians in Maynooth made headlines, including claims that some of them may have used the hookup app Grindr, which is primarily used to arrange gay sexual encounters.
But Dr Martin made no comment on those sensational reports to the Irish Times, instead explaining that he had what he called a “certain bonding” with Rome (where he lived and worked for in the Holy See for 25 years) and where he felt the Irish college offered “a good grounding” in the Catholic faith.
Monsignor Ciaran O’Carroll, the rector of the Irish college, confirmed that the three Dublin based seminarians would be “transferring” to Rome, adding this was very much the usual practice, since this was the time of year when bishops nominated students for the college.
It is however extremely unusual for Irish seminarians to be transferred from Maynooth to Rome after an Archbishop cites “strange goings on” in the national seminary as the reason for the transfer.
Maynooth currently has around 60 seminarians in residence and when rumors broke of “inappropriate behavior” earlier this year a spokesperson quickly assured the press that procedures were in place to handle any controversial complaints against seminarians.
The suggestion that a thriving gay subculture exists at Ireland’s national seminary first came to light in May of this year after anonymous letter suggested that both seminarians and staff members at Maynooth had been using the hookup app Grindr.
At the time Monsignor Hugh Connolly told The Irish Catholic the church intended to "thoroughly deal" with any concerns regarding such behavior.
Meanwhile, acknowledging that the number of seminarians for Dublin has dropped, the Archbishop told the Irish Independent "What is more important for me is the quality of the men who come forward and the training that they receive."
The fact that the Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, in whose diocese Maynooth sits, apparently believes that Maynooth is currently an unsuitable place to train Irish priests is a remarkable development.