New York's Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan will submit a report to Pope Benedict XVI which is expected to recommend that all Irish priests be trained in the Pontifical Irish College in Rome according to the Irish Catholic newspaper.
This means that priests will no longer be trained in Ireland.
Dolan is one of the American and Canadian bishops tasked with enforcing strict new rules on the Irish church by the Vatican after the pedophile controversy.
His historic decision would mean that officially the seminaries in Ireland are no long "fit for mission". A senior academic told the Irish Catholic that the Apostolic visitor were "appalled" by the standards at Maynooth College, in Kildare where priests have been trained for centuries.
It seems that Dolan's plan would be to move all Irish seminarians to the Irish College in Rome reducing the number of non-Irish students there.
While visiting Maynooth College Dolan requested class notes and presentation from moral theology lectures to assess the suitability of the content. Evidently he was not pleased. A move to Rome would suggest that the theology being taught in Maynooth is not sufficiently orthodox.
The Apostolic Visitors believe that due to the low numbers and lack of staff it would be a better use of resources if the priests studied in Rome. Maynooth is also low on staff due to the retirement of theology professors. Currently the college only has one fulltime Canon Law faculty staff member while the Philosophy department has no fulltime staff.
However, the President of Maynooth College, Monsignor Hugh Connolly, says there are no foundations to this news. He said "There are 72 men studying for the priesthood in Maynooth, making us the largest seminary on these islands and one of the largest in Europe. Media reports today about the possible closure of the seminary are without foundation.
"The media outlet leading with this incorrect story was sent a reply from us yesterday and its absence from the published copy is disappointing and damaging."
Currently there are 72 seminarians at Maynooth College, 15 at the Irish College in Rome, seven at Beda College in Rome, seven at St. Joseph's Seminary in Belfast as well as two Irishmen in the Royal English College in Valladolid, Spain.
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