The strict new rules imposed on trainee priests in Maynooth following allegations students were using gay dating app Grindr have been blasted as "pathetic" by a founding member of a group representing over 1,000 Irish priests.
Last month the seminary's trustees announced a series of rigid new measures to curb student clerics' wayward behavior, including mandatory dining in the college and a requirement to attend evening rosary at 9 p.m.
The move followed an earlier decision from Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin to remove his seminarians from Maynooth, citing an atmosphere of "strange goings-on" at the college, and send them instead to the Irish Pontifical College in Rome.
But Father Tony Flannery, a founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests, said the tighter new controls have failed to address the real problem, namely enforced celibacy.
"There are two core issues that are at the heart of what is reputed to be happening in Maynooth, and is also showing itself in many other seminaries around the world,” Flannery said.
"Those are the rule of compulsory celibacy, and the variety and complexity of sexual attraction present among us humans, and the very faulty church teaching on sexuality generally and LGBT in particular."
Writing on his website www.tonyflannery.com, the outspoken Co. Galway Redemptorist, who's one of several Irish clerics who have been “silenced” by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith for their liberal views, added, "Are these men [the trustees] serious? Do they expect this effort at very traditional regimentation, and equally traditional spirituality, to solve the problems they believe existed?
"It is possible that these gentlemen believe that lining up the students for the rosary every evening is going to deal with these human situations? I'm afraid not."
Last month Martin decided to send his students to Rome following allegations, circulated in anonymous letters, that some seminarians had the used the gay dating app Grindr.
Speaking of his decision, he said, "There seems to be 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.
“However, when I informed the president of Maynooth of my decision, I did add, ‘At least for the moment.’"
Other recent measures introduced in Maynooth by the trustees following the allegations include a review of "appropriate use of the internet and social media" by the 50 clerics-in-training and their staff.