'Church needs better standards to attract right candidates for priesthood'
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said the Catholic Church in Ireland needs to introduce better admission standards for trainee priests to attract the right candidates for priesthood.
Acknowledging that the national seminary in Maynooth "has to change", Dr Martin, who is a trustee of the college, told RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland': "Maynooth is not to be condemned but it is not to be canonised either."
He said there was a "recognition of the problems" facing Maynooth among the trustees and that the seminary has to change, "not just because of current allegations but because of the fact that we are living in a different world".
Referring to the trustees' statement on Wednesday outlining a series of changes on seminary formation, the Archbishop said there was a need for new ways of identifying, screening and training candidates.
His comments were welcomed by Dominican priest Fr Gerard Dunne, a former vocations director who saw a recovery of priest numbers within his order during the years he was in his role.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Fr Dunne said Dr Martin was seeking to bring about "a standardisation of admissions procedures" across all dioceses.
"In my experience, this process has been haphazard in the past. Different dioceses in Ireland employ different assessment methods - some are rigorous, others not so," the Cork-based friar said.
He added that every candidate for the seminary should have "a lengthy period of discernment with a vocations director" of at least one year, as well as experience of parish life and visits to the seminary.
Archbishop Martin also said yesterday much of the preparation for the priesthood in the future would take place outside the seminary walls, within the realities of the lives people live.