Like A Mad Gulag With Grindr

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St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Co Kildare

Where do we sign?

What on earth is going on?

In yesterday’s Irish Independent, journalist Sarah MacDonald reported that seminarians from Dublin will not be sent to study at the national seminary in Maynooth this year.

Instead, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will be sending them to the Irish College in Rome. The decision followed claims of a “gay subculture” among seminarians in the college in Co Kildare.

Today, Ms MacDonald reports that a former trainee priest will meet with the Garda sexual assault unit this week to make a formal complaint against a priest who, he alleges, harassed him while he was studying in Maynooth.

Further to this, Ms MacDonald spoke to Seán O’Rourke on RTEÉ Radio One this morning, along with Patsy McGarry, of The Irish Times, and Anthony Murphy, of The Catholic Voice.

Sarah MacDonald: “People are being given the forum now, for example, a new voice, or a new group called Vama – Voices Against Maynooth Abuse – have brought together complaints from a number of ex-seminarians, and they’re beginning to make their concerns public. And a number of these relate to concerns around staff and seminarians behaving inappropriately within Maynooth. There are also complaints and concerns around confidentiality agreements that are forced on seminarians within nine weeks of commencing studies.”

“And these confidentiality agreements, one seminarian told me that they forbid the disclosure of any activities or anything that they see or hear within the seminary and they’re not even allowed tell their own families about this. So there is a concern that that’s leading to a culture of secrecy.”

“And this culture of secrecy is something that we’ve heard about and was addressed, to some extent, over the child safeguarding scandals but now it seems to be hitting on concerns of young seminarians who feel that they’re being targeted for inappropriate behaviour and that they’ve no way of actually getting their complaints dealt with objectively and impartially.”

Sean O’Rourke: “There’s a combination of different strands there, as you say. But what has Archbishop Diarmuid Martin had to say, by way of explanation for why he has chosen to transfer students for the priesthood, from Maynooth, to Rome?”

MacDonald: “Well he hasn’t come out directly and linked what I’m hearing from ex-seminarians with his decision. He’s being rather coy about it, he said he isn’t happy with Maynooth, that there’s an atmosphere of strange goings-on, a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around and I suppose this is part of the concern is that if there is a situation where people can’t actually make complaints, have an impartial complaints procedure, seminarians or staff members have concerns that bishops might act against them and that they don’t have a place where they can air their grievances safely, without fear of retribution. Some people have obviously resorted to sending anonymous letters – be it to the bishops or to the media or this new group Vama that has emerged…”

Later

O’Rourke: “You could understand, people listening to this, it’s not the kind of behaviour, not by a long, long shot that one would expect to be happening in a national seminary where future Catholic priests are supposed to be studying and not engage in any kind of sexual activity, it’s supposed to be sublimated to their higher calling, be it heterosexual or homosexual. So, this is the atmosphere that Archbishop Martin is referring to, is it?

Patsy McGarry: “There is an added element to this too, Seán. A senior figure on this staffing team in Maynooth resigned unexpectedly there in June and it’s said his concerns were to do with the theological formation mainly. And it was announced around the same time that the president of Maynooth was taking sabbatical leave for a period. It was pointed out and emphasised that this was not in relation to any of these events. But he’s due to retire next year as president which, really, raises the…”

O’Rourke: “Yes but the resignation of the individual who wasn’t satisfied with the theology, was that on the grounds it was too liberal or too orthodox or what was his complaint? I’m assuming it was a he, by the way.”

McGarry: “well the belief is…It is a he. This man, this priest was himself quite orthodox but his concerns were primarily with theological formation but also with the other, if you might use the phrase, strange goings-on at the college.”

O’Rourke: “Ok, to come to you Anthony Murphy, you the editor of the Catholic Voice newspaper, you’ve been writing about this for some time?”

Anthony Murphy: “Well, we have. We probably started writing about it five years ago and, you know, it’s important to emphasise that this is nothing new, it’s really like history repeating itself. Because these kinds of allegations to have been surrounding and enveloping Maynooth since the 1990s and they’re always of a similar nature. And you know, as you’ve pointed out, it doesn’t sound like a house for priestly formation. It sounds like a cross between a gulag, a mad house and a dating agency.

And we have to ask the serious question: you know, what on earth is going on? And it’s very good, I welcome the decision by the Archbishop of Dublin to withdraw his seminarians from Maynooth but simply  to say there’s strange goings-on there, it’s not good enough. You know, these young men, formations are very thin on the ground in this day and age. And when young men make the decision to sacrifice their lives and go through all the difficulties of becoming a priest, to be treated in this appalling way and, you know, and then for the rest of us to be told there’s strange goings-on there, it’s really not good enough. So, we need to know what the strange goings-on are – there should be an independent investigation now, into the seminary…”

Listen back in full here

41 thoughts on “Like A Mad Gulag With Grindr

  1. Ferret McGruber

    Diarmiud Martin wants to send the seminarians to the Vatican because of (a) strange goings on in Maynooth and/or (b) secrecy in the Vatican will be even more tightly controlled. Answers on a postcard…

  2. AdvertisingOnPoliceCars

    Same thing in the 1980’s, Ledwith had rumpy pumpy gay sex parties,, it was well known.

        1. some old queen

          What are you inferring Mr Finucane? That he was also a practicing homosexual? He was not…. he was perfect at it. Ba dum tish !

          See kidz? All this has being going on for a very long time.

  3. De Kloot

    I wonder if this is the real reason the old poolhouse was shut down…. too much semenarian activity in the water…

  4. DubLoony

    The gay subculture allegation is an old one, had a friend in there over 20 years ago.
    Lot of older men joined up in an era when the perfect closet was living in an all male institution.

    You don’t have to hide any more lads, its ok.

  5. bisted

    …in fairness, gays and heterosexuals within the seminarians is not the problem for the catholic church…it’s the paedophiles…they should be moved…oh wait..

  6. newsjustin

    It’s good news that Martin is moving his seminarians to Rome. Hopefully this will hasten the end of the dire regime in Maynooth that has seen hundreds of men in the last few decades “encouraged to leave” for daring to be somewhat conservative or fond of latin in the liturgy.

    Maynooth has spent so long trying to weed out traditionally (in the theological and liturgical sense) minded young men they’ve failed utterly to identify and remove the just plain unsuitable ones – regardless of sexual orientation.

    Imagine being bold enough and committed enough to enter the seminary only to be met with this nasty, bitter atmosphere. The Bishops on the board of the college should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

    1. Jordofthejungle

      At a speech in Glenties a few years ago, Archbishop Martin was lambasted by Patricia Casey of the Iona “Institute” for admitting the poor quality of seminarians presenting themselves for holy orders. He drew attention to those who were “excessively dogmatic” – you prefer the term “traditional”. These men he continued, often exhibited dramatic emotional over-sensitivity which he believed was rooted in chronic immaturity which Maynooth compounded rather than challenged. Their attachment to certain areas of Catholic faith, particularly sexual mores & a pre-Vatican II piety as opposed to other arguably more important tenets and basic tenets was the very antithesis of a positive & confident exhibition of Christianity. These seminarians even went so far as to try and compel superiors to keep the seminary isolated from the university & outside influence in general. If this mindset gains any further ground, we can expect more closeted immature priests in its fullest sense beyond its usual meaning of connoting repressed homosexuality.

      1. newsjustin

        This is Archbishop Martin who’s on the board of the seminary for a decade and failed to address any of these matters until now.

        There’s a good balance to be found between traditional piety, academic rigor, pastoral skills and maturity of character. Many potentially very good priests have been lost to the church because the authorities in Maynooth – those that has overseen this farce – have deemed them unsuitable. Somehow I suspect they may no be the best judges of character.

        1. Jordofthejungle

          I tend to believe Martin in this matter. There is a balance to be struck & theologically rigidity is as much a danger as an à la carte approach to chastity requirements. The problem might not even be Maynooth but a still pervasive retrograde Irish Catholicism among the hierarchy at odds with a more positive & authentic continental strain.

  7. some old queen

    One of my first ever sexual experiences was with a priest. Albeit young I was an adult and one thing he said always stayed with me. He invited me to stay over and meet the other fathers in the morning. Such was the open secret among them. I completely switched off from the Church after that. The hypocrisy was sickening.

    But, I do understand why so many gay men became priests. There was no ‘out and loud’ back them so your options were to either live a lie or give your life to God. And it was a good life with decent standard of living and respectability within the community. The only problem was the inherent self loathing.

    I am for the firm belief that in Ireland at least, most priests are gay but I suspect things may have changed again. Gays no longer need to hide a way and it is possible that those who are now joining are doing so for the right reasons. Some may even be srt8 and that will cause problems within the seminaries because the over arching ‘gayness’ will be challenged.

    This is surely as good an explanation for what has happened in Maynooth as any other.

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      The first man who talked me into kissing him had been a seminarian in Maynooth.
      Then he got transferred to some place in Wales.
      Then he got ex-communicated. (It was the 70s…Jimmy Saville was still presenting TOTP…MAD times…)

      -He never became a priest, much to his Mother’s chagrin. But she was the type who’d burst your ball if it it went into her garden so who cares about her? Not me anyway, and I care less about what happened to him.

  8. Mulder

    Strange going on`s ye say, are they sure it is not just moving statutes or aperitions again.
    Strange folk walking about or creeping around wearing black clothing.

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      What do you mean Rome?
      -Take a roam around the Vatican if you want some serious action.

  9. Daisy Chainsaw

    If only the church had been as swift in its protection of minors, keeping the children well away from predatory rapists.

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      Leave Arthur Scargill out of it or I’ll call Billy Bragg.
      -And stop saying obvious things just because nobody else has said it yet. There’s a reason for that…

      We forgot.

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