David Quinn: If St Patrick's can't be reformed, it should be shut down
Seminaries have been part and parcel of the life of the Catholic Church only since the 16th Century.
I say 'only' because this means that for the first 15 centuries of the Church's existence, there were no seminaries. Priests did not train in seminaries. For the most part they learned by what was, in effect, an apprenticeship system - that is, they learned by working alongside an experienced priest. A tiny minority attended universities.
What does this mean? It means that the Catholic Church did without seminaries for the great part of its history and it can do without them again. It means that the Church in Ireland can do without St Patrick's College, Maynooth, if needs be.