Ireland’s Catholic hierarchy voiced concerns about what it called an “unhealthy atmosphere” at St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Co Kildare, and ordered a review of the “appropriate use of the internet and social media”.
It follows remarks earlier this month by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, about “strange goings-on” at the 221-year-old s
Dr Martin, the most senior Catholic cleric south of the border, disclosed that he had decided to send students from Dublin – the largest diocese in Ireland – to Rome for priestly formation, rather than to Maynooth just a short drive from the capital.
The Archbishop spoke of an “atmosphere” at the college following a string of allegations about a “gay culture” made in letters and blogs and concerns about “promiscuous sexuality”.
Pressed on what his concerns were he told RTE Radio: “One is that there is a homosexual, a gay culture; that students have been using an app called Grindr, which is a gay dating app.
“[That] would be inappropriate for seminarians, not just because they are trained to be celibate priests but because an app like that is something which would be fostering promiscuous sexuality, which is certainly not in any way the mature vision of sexuality one would expect a priest to understand.”
His remarks prompted the college trustees, including senior clerics, to hold crisis talks.
Now in a statement issued by the Catholic Church in Ireland, they promise a review of whistleblowing procedures and internet and social media use policies.
They said they would ask bishops to set up a group to look at the “pastoral needs” of seminarians, including ways to temper the all-male, clerical training environment by introducing more contact with women, families and lay people.“Acknowledging the recent and extensive media coverage regarding the college, and the disquiet that it has caused amongst the faithful, the trustees emphasise that the Church has clear instructions on the formation of seminarians,” they said.
“It is essential that these are observed in order to form priests ‘after the heart of the Good Shepherd’.
“There is no place in a seminary community for any sort of behaviour or attitude which contradicts the teaching and example of Jesus Christ." ...