Saturday 1 October 2016

Maynooth student to file sex assault charge with gardaí

‘Culture of secrecy protects abusers,’ ex-seminarian says Archbishop breaks silence on transfer of trainee priests

Sarah MacDonald

Published 02/08/2016 | 02:30

St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Photo: Arthur Carron
St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Photo: Arthur Carron

A former trainee priest who alleges that he was harassed by a member of staff while studying at the national seminary in Maynooth is to meet members of the Garda sexual assault unit this week to file a formal complaint against the priest.

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The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Irish Independent that the priest concerned was meant to be his "spiritual father" to "act as a support and guide in living a chaste and celibate life".

Instead, the man alleges that the priest placed his hand on him inappropriately on a number of occasions and asked him very intimate questions concerning his sexuality.

He said he would "definitely not suggest Maynooth to any young man currently considering a vocation".

"I am now, thank God, a happily married man. My faith was severely shaken after my experience and I suffered from severe depression for a long time," he recounted.

Separately, another former seminarian, who studied in Maynooth for three years, has criticised the 'confidentiality agreement' that trainee priests must sign, forbidding disclosure of activities "heard, seen or experienced" within the seminary.

He claimed the compulsory agreements were "deceitfully presented to naive seminarians without prior warning, explanation or consultation".

Atmosphere

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has explained that his decision not to send trainee priests to St Patrick's College was due to a worrying "atmosphere" at the national seminary.

Following on from the Irish Independent's story, Dr Martin said: "I wasn't happy with Maynooth..."

He added: "There seems to be an atmosphere of strange goings-on there. I don't think this is a good place for students."

Irish Independent

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