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Cardinal Timothy Dolan Photo by: Brigitte Stelzer / Splash News

Irish Catholics angered over Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s comments on Irish College in Rome

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan Photo by: Brigitte Stelzer / Splash News

A report commissioned by the Vatican and led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan on an Irish seminary in Rome has come under harsh criticism by Irish archbishops and has been slammed as both prejudiced and factually flawed.

David Gibson for The Washington Post reports on the mudslinging that has since ensued between Cardinal Dolan and Ireland’s four archbishops surrounding the report on the flagship Irish College in Rome, Italy.

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI commissioned Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley and other churchmen to review Ireland’s four archdioceses and to inspect Ireland’s Catholic seminaries to make sure they were preparing men properly for the priesthood. The team was assembled following the widespread shocking allegations of sexual abuse within the Church.

Cardinal Dolan’s report, which included his views on the new Irish College seminary in Rome, was sent to the Vatican earlier this year.

Ireland’s four archbishops issued a joint reply to the Vatican regarding Dolan’s report, and their reply was featured in The Irish Times on June 15th. In their reply, the four Irish archbishops asserted that Dolan’s report was marked by “a deep prejudice” that “led to the hostile tone and content of the report.” They added that the report contained “significant errors of fact.”

The Irish Times obtained a copy of the report in which Dolan accused Ireland’s archbishops of being “disengaged from college governance” in their role as trustees, and said the “general rule of governance is ‘Let’s keep doing what we have been for the last 35 years.’”

Further, the report - which only offered commentary from seminarians, and not by faculty or administrators- led by Cardinal Dolan said that the seminary’s staff was “critical about any emphasis on Rome, tradition, the magisterium, piety or assertive orthodoxy.” It said teachers were failing to prepare priests who have “a vibrant fidelity to Jesus and the teaching and tradition of His church.”

Dolan’s report also said that the Irish seminary “suffers from the reputation of being ‘gay friendly,’ however unjust such a reputation might be.” Dolan followed up in the report to say that he “did not find any evidence of rampant immorality or a homosexual subculture.”

While it is unclear whether or not the report obtained by The Irish Times was the final draft sent to the Vatican, it has still angered the four Irish archbishops. They in turn denounced Dolan’s report for stressing “its own view of orthodoxy, priestly identity, separation and devotion” and said its “harsh judgments on staff members” were “unsupported by evidence.”

Dolan responded to the Irish criticism on his report by saying that he stood by “the accuracy of the data we found.” He also criticized those who leaked the report and the response from the Irish prelates.

In a brief statement, Dolan said, “While obviously others do not consider themselves bound by the promised confidentiality — so necessary and understandable to assure a fair and honest gathering of information...I certainly do.” The Cardinal declined any further elaboration.

Since the leaking of Dolan’s report, the four Irish priests who were working at the Irish College in Rome have since vacated their positions. This led to a “national group of Irish priests to blast the Dolan report for relying on the comments of disgruntled students and for focusing on accusations of widespread homosexual activity despite a lack of evidence,” writes Gibson.

“If the accusations were not substantiated, why not just say so?” asked the Association of Catholic Priests. “Is this just incompetence or perhaps homophobia?”

The Irish priests said the Dolan report “has effectively destroyed the reputations of priests, who have given lifelong service to the Irish Catholic Church, without giving them a right of reply to the allegations made against them.”

“It is unacceptable that a report to the Pope, on a sensitive issue, should be conducted in such an incompetent fashion,” the priests group said. “No court of law would treat people in such a way. Is it too much to expect even minimal rights in law for priests in the Roman Catholic Church?”

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