Wednesday 29 March 2017

Maynooth trainees to be supervised during meal times

The national seminary in Maynooth Photo: Steve Humphreys
The national seminary in Maynooth Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sarah MacDonald

A closer eye will be kept on how Maynooth's seminarians spend their time from now on as part of a stricter regime being introduced in the wake of the gay dating app scandal.

The Irish Independent has learned that all trainee priests will now be required to eat their evening meal in the college rather than being allowed to dine wherever they choose. They will also be required to attend evening rosary at 9pm, which hasn't been obligatory until now.

Pat Buckley: 'At least initially, they should have put a ban on mobile phones because that would have sent a very clear message to the seminarians and to the Irish population that people, whether they are straight or gay, on mobile phones looking for promiscuous sex is not allowed'
Pat Buckley: 'At least initially, they should have put a ban on mobile phones because that would have sent a very clear message to the seminarians and to the Irish population that people, whether they are straight or gay, on mobile phones looking for promiscuous sex is not allowed'

The seminary council will now eat both breakfast and dinner with the seminarians in the historic Pugin Hall rather than in the Professors' Refectory.

The tighter controls are part of a suite of measures announced on Wednesday by the trustees of Maynooth which included a review of "appropriate use of the internet and social media" by the 50 or so trainee priests and their staff.

Earlier this month, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of ­Dublin withdrew his seminarians from Maynooth following allegations that students were using gay dating app Grindr.

Read more: Church leaders admit 'unhealthy atmosphere' at college amid gay dating app Grindr row

However, the measures announced by the trustees in Maynooth have cut little ice with a former seminarian who has been documenting the current crisis on his blog.

Controversial cleric ­Bishop Pat Buckley told the Irish ­Independent that in the context of what had been going on in Maynooth, the trustees should have gone further and announced a ban on social media and mobile phones.

Ban

"At least initially, they should have put a ban on mobile phones because that would have sent a very clear message to the seminarians and to the Irish population that people, whether they are straight or gay, on mobile phones looking for promiscuous sex is not allowed," the Larne-based prelate said.

Read more: Bishops clamp down on Maynooth 'behaviour'

He was less than impressed with the restrictions imposed on seminarians' dining arrangements and the new directive on attending the evening ­rosary, saying it would do little more than delay the hour some seminarians hit the pubs in Maynooth. Bishop Buckley said that while the four seminarians who were most prominently on Grindr have now shut down their accounts, he was hearing through sources that some intended to set up new accounts under fake names.

Maynooth's trustees have been urged to reinstate a young seminarian who was dismissed last May after he allegedly caught two other seminarians in bed together. "I think he should get a ­second chance," said Bishop Buckley. "He saw two seminarians in bed together and he then came under a lot of pressure and so said he might have misunderstood what he saw.

"His bishop won't let him have a second chance. It seems to me, what has happened is that the whistleblower has been punished and the midnight cowboys were rewarded."

Read more: Future of Maynooth seminary in balance as number of student priests plummets

Bishop Buckley, who is gay and in a civil partnership, said the "problem in Maynooth at the moment is that there is a vicious gay sub culture there".

He accused the Catholic Church of having a schizophrenic attitude to homosexuality.

Irish Independent

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