'I felt it was not the healthiest place for my students to be' - Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
The following are excerpts from an interview Archbishop Diarmuid Martin gave on 'RTÉ News One' yesterday.
'There is a tradition that there were no Dublin students in Maynooth for a long time. But on this particular occasion, I was somewhat unhappy and I made this decision some months ago, that there was an atmosphere growing in Maynooth and which you would learn about through anonymous accusations made, letters and blogs, accusing people of either misconduct or accusing the faculty of Maynooth of not treating allegations correctly. And I felt that a quarrelsome attitude was not the healthiest place for my students to be and I decided to send them to the Irish College in Rome."
In response to a question that his decision was due to a quarrelsome attitude among staff in Maynooth:
"No, coming from a whole series of anonymous allegations being passed around and this was on blogs. Some of the material has resulted to be true, but the trouble with anonymous complaints is that it's almost impossible to investigate them and carry them through to success from my point of view in the seminary.
"I simply felt that type of quarrelsome attitude and a culture of anonymous letters is poisonous and until that's cleared up, I would be happier sending my students elsewhere.
"The allegations are that a homosexual, gay culture (exists), that students (are) using an app called Grindr, a gay dating app, which would be inappropriate for seminarians. Not just because they are training to be priests but an app like that is something which would be fostering promiscuous sexuality, which is certainly not in any way the mature vision of sexuality you would expect a priest to understand.
"Then there are people saying anyone who tries to go to the authorities with an allegation, that they're being dismissed from the seminary.
"I offered initially to provide a person who is an expert in dealing with people who've come forward like this that they come forward in all confidence and provide the evidence that they had and the answer to that was simply more anonymous letters. That's not a healthy culture.
"We have to find ways that people will come forward with solid, hard evidence which can be used to follow up allegations."
In response to a question that Maynooth may not be fit for purpose:
"I would not say to any person or bishop, 'you should not send your students to Maynooth' - that's their responsibility. The students and bishops should have a confident relationship and that they talk about these problems.
"I would prefer to have my seminarians living in the reality of Dublin life, where they'd have the possibility of pastoral experience in the life of a parish and that they could do their theology in Maynooth or somewhere else.
"Maynooth is a very comfortable seminary. The people have their breakfast, dinner and tea served up to them.
"I would probably want a more challenging one, where there's more strong integration and dialogue between those who are responsible for formation and the students.
"Maynooth is a seminary built for 500 students; it now has 60-70 and I think a lot more structural reform would be needed."
In response to a suggestion that this will have serious implications for the future of Maynooth:
"For many years, there were no Dublin students in Maynooth, when the Dublin seminary in Clonliffe was there and I think we could go back to something similar.
"Maynooth is 200 years old, it has a long and proud tradition, but I feel that for the situation in Dublin we probably need a different way in the long term."