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We need answers on Maynooth decision


Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Collins

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Collins

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Collins

The Church has been under sustained attack for more than a decade.

Abject failure to deal head on with a series of scandals has done irreparable damage. There has been a clamour amongst its enemies to tear down its structures; but by far the greatest reputational threat to its standing has come from within.

Confirmation by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin that he would no longer be sending priests of the Dublin Diocese to St Patrick's College, Maynooth, and would instead be sending them to the Irish College in Rome, begs many questions.

Dr Martin has refused to elaborate, obliquely referring to "strange goings on," and "a quarrelsome atmosphere."

Neither, one would imagine, would be conducive for preparation for a life of service. All the same, the difficulty is that refusal to clarify what precisely is the problem will not do much for either the standing of the college or, indeed, the church.

For centuries, Maynooth College has been one of the most respected institutions in the country. Founded back in 1795, by 1850 it had become the largest seminary in the world.

So it is simply not good enough for Archbishop Martin to decide to no longer send seminarians there without offering a proper explanation.

The church has endured a firestorm of anger for its failure to learn from the past. The main charge levelled against it was that it continually elevated its own interests ahead of those of its members. Avowed atheist Richard Dawkins chided that: "religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time."

The passage of time will not be kind to the enduring reputation of the church unless it can show that it meets its responsibility to be transparent and accountable.

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