Wednesday 28 September 2016

Maynooth has been mired in controversy since the 1980s

Published 05/08/2016 | 02:30

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin: robust response. Photo: John McElroy.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin: robust response. Photo: John McElroy.

Your editorial (Irish Independent, August 2) demands further explanation as to why Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin decided to no longer send seminarians to St Patrick's College Maynooth.

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St Patrick's is a small institution with an ancient history but declining student numbers.

It has been mired in recurring controversy since the early 1980s, when Fr Gerard McGinnity PP, then a senior staff member, brought his concerns about college governance and those of aggrieved seminarians to the attention of the trustees and into the public domain. The opinion of the trustees at the time was articulated by Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich, who advised Fr McGinnity, when both were visiting Rome: "the bishops are gunning for you, Gerry."

The priest promptly lost his job and was isolated. A cover-up ensued but Fr McGinnity and the complaining seminarians were eventually vindicated.

Twenty years later, in 2014, the Holy See published an evaluation of St Patrick's and, reflecting the views of nine faculty members, criticised the college trustees, all bishops, for their "perceived disengagement from and apparent disinterest regarding the university's mission".

The same body of trustees recently granted the president of St Patrick's sabbatical leave until 2017, coinciding with the remainder of his term as president but he is to continue to carry out many of his presidential duties during his sabbatical leave.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is clearly exasperated and has lost confidence in the fitness-for-purpose of St Patrick's and the governing competence, leadership and credibility of its trustees.

The decisiveness of Archbishop Martin is compelling, proactive, plausible and very consistent with his robust style when dealing with clerical sexual abuse issues.

It is indeed time for the Primate of All Ireland and the trustees to publicly account for their stewardship of this institution, to account for the threat to its reputation and to be candid with the public about why this small college continues to be consistently mired in controversy throughout the tenure of its three most recent college presidents - who were picked by the bishops.

Myles Duffy

Glenageary, Co Dublin

Church crisis has positives

There has been yet another jolt to the Catholic Church and its laity as ongoing difficulties at the Maynooth Seminary have come to light.

I've remained with the Church despite its many traumas throughout my lifetime - I was born in the 1950s. However, my engagement with the Church has often on a long tether. I would now characterise my Catholicism as low on faith but still high on hope. So, it is mainly in this context that I view the current crisis in a very positive mood.

Firstly, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is to be commended for taking a stand and giving leadership, the lack of which the Church has been severely criticised for in the past. He may not be thanked for this as other bishops circle the wagons in the traditional way, but I expect that there will be significant fallout from his decision.

My hope is that the debate will rise above the alleged 'gay subculture' in Maynooth and focus on the question of the educational and training needs of clerical students so that in their future ministry they will be capable of meeting the enormous challenges facing the Catholic Church in Ireland today.

My faith may yet be restored.

Michael Gannon

Kilkenny

Fairy tales and fear

I was surprised to see that four pages of Ireland's biggest-selling daily newspaper (Irish Independent, August 4) were taken up with coverage of an institution that is based on fairy tales and fear.

The fact that a 'Tooth Fairy' or 'Santa Claus' around which we can build a moral compass to differentiate between right and wrong still exists is not the issue - this has always been and will continue to be the case until all the gods out there meet up and agree that they are all essentially the same person with the same message: love one another.

Maybe the men who wear pointy hats and sparkly dresses are genuinely scared that some of the kids they are educating to wear pointy hats and sparkly dresses in the future are being educated in a place that allows or promotes the practice of homosexuality, a practice that wholeheartedly embraces the wearing of hats and sparkly dresses.

No, these pointy hat and sparkly dress-wearers cannot even live with the practice of heterosexuality!

The issue is that the moral teachings that we have claimed as belonging to God (or any of the 320 million other gods) actually do exist - love yourself, love your neighbour, love homosexuals, love Muslims, love Protestants, love blacks, love aliens; basically, love one another.

I feel it would be much more practical and a lot more beneficial if the Irish Independent simply had 'Love one another' as its front-page headline and filled the next four pages with genuine advice on how we might achieve this.

Name and address with Editor

Rio Olympics and the poor

The Rio de Janeiro Olympics officially gets under way today. It will bring thrills to millions watching on television.

However, many will be unaware of the effect the games will have on the poor in Rio.

The Brazilian government will spend an estimated €10bn on Olympic venues and infrastructure but with little benefit for the poorest residents.

There are many favelas (shantytowns) being demolished, which affects many thousands of people, while the majority of infrastructural projects benefit the wealthy parts of Rio.

The Homeless Workers' Movement in Brazil recently said, "There are now around 800,000 families without a home in the Rio metropolitan area. Rio continues to persecute, demonise and criminalise the poorest in society, and it's getting worse. Many had to move out of the city, which now only serves those who can afford it."

I wish everyone well at this year's games, particularly the poorer people of Rio.

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

Irish Independent

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