The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin has confirmed a boycott of Ireland’s main seminary amid allegations trainee priests there are using the gay dating app Grindr.
Dr Diarmuid Martin, the most senior Catholic in the Irish Republic, said he is sending student priests to Rome rather than the centuries-old St Patrick’s College in Maynooth – 16 miles from the capital.
The church leader said he made the decision some months ago because he was “somewhat unhappy” about “an atmosphere that was growing in Maynooth” exposed through anonymous accusations in letters and online blogs.
“There are allegations on different sides,” he said.
“One is that there is a homosexual, a gay culture, that students have been using an app called Grindr, which is a gay dating app, which would be inappropriate for seminarians, not just because they are trained to be celibate priests but because an app like that is something which would be fostering promiscuous sexuality, which is certainly not in any way the mature vision of sexuality one would expect a priest to understand.”
Founded in 1795, Maynooth College was once the largest seminary in the world.
It was built to train 500 trainee Catholic priests every year but numbers have nosedived to about 60 in recent years with a fall-off in vocations.
Dr Martin said there were further allegations that whistleblowers trying to bring claimed wrongdoing to the attention of authorities were being dismissed from the seminary.
“I thought a quarrelsome attitude of that kind was not the healthiest place for my students to be and I decided to send them to the Irish (Pontifical) College (in Rome),” he told RTE.
While Dr Martin has decided to send student priests from the Dublin Archdiocese – Ireland’s largest – overseas instead, he insisted he was not ordering other bishops to do likewise.
However, the Archbishop said a “whole series of anonymous allegations” were being circulated about goings-on at the Maynooth seminary.
While “some material has resulted to be true”, he added that it was impossible to fairly investigate and carry out due process while those making claims remained anonymous.
Efforts by him to recruit an independent person who could deal with whistleblower complaints were met with “simply more anonymous letters” he said.
“A culture of anonymous letters is poisonous and until that is cleared up I would be happier sending my students elsewhere,” he added.
Dr Martin said authorities at Maynooth needed to find a way people could come forward with “solid, hard evidence”.
The senior Catholic leader also criticised the “comfortable” regime at the seminary.
“The people have their breakfast, dinner and tea served up to them,” he said.