Monsignor Micheal Ledwith, a native of Taghmon and former president of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth has been named in a civil suit for damages by a former clerical student at the college arising from an alleged incident in 1994, the Sunday Tribune has reported.
The Tribune article follows revived speculation in the media recently about Monsignor Ledwith's sudden departure from his position as president of both the seminary and secular university in Maynooth in 1994 and the reluctance of the Church authorities to answer questions about his premature resignation.
According to records in the High Court, Monsignor Ledwith, who was ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Ferns in the mid-1960s, is named as a defendant along with the trustees of Maynooth College and the former Bishop of Ferns, Dr. Brendan Comiskey, arising out of an alleged incident involving the priest and a clerical student in 1994.
Archbishop Sean Brady, as chairman of the Trustees of the seminary and primate of All-Ireland, is also being sued in the claim which was lodged in the High Court in January 2001.
Bishop Comiskey is a named defendant on the basis that Monsignor Ledwith is a priest of his former Diocese.
The plaintiff, who is now in his late twenties, is believed to have been a clerical student in the college during the early 1990s and left the seminary before completing his studies for the priesthood.
The Sunday Tribune reported that the complaint is understood not to be related to Monsignor Ledwith's departure as president of Maynooth in 1994 and the alleged incident took place after he had announced his resignation but before he left his residence on the campus.
Solicitors for the plaintiff have declined to comment on the case.
The Catholic authorities have declined to respond to media queries about Monsignor Ledwith's departure eight years ago.
At the time, he was one of the top theologians in Ireland and a most respected and senior education figure.
His departure came six months before he was due to finish a ten-year period as the head of the college.
The Sunday Tribune said it was understood the Monsignor received a substantial financial package on leaving but NUI Maynooth, as it became known after splitting from the seminary college some years ago, declined to answer questions about this.
Since his departure, Monsignor Ledwith, now aged 60, has diverted from the traditional religious path and is now a guest lecturer to followers of new age religion in the US.
He has been a regular lecturer at the Washington School of Religious Enlightenment, run by a controversial new age practitioner, JZ Knight, who claimes to be a channel for the 35,000-year-old warrior, Ramtha, from the lost city of Atlantis.
Monsignor Ledwith was born in Taghmon and educated in Wexford and abroad, obtaining a doctorate in theology.
He was ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Ferns in the mid-1960s and had a teaching position in St. Peter's seminary in Wexford for a time.