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Why have you been hearing about "strange goings-on" at the national seminary?

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has decided not to send trainee priests from Dublin to St Patrick’s College.

17/5/2016 White Ribbon Processions Against CrimeArchbishop of Dublin Diarmuid MartinSource: RollingNews.ie

OVER THE PAST 48 hours there has been a storm of media activity around an alleged gay culture in St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Ireland’s national seminary.

Yesterday, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin confirmed to the Irish Times that he would not be sending three student priests from his diocese to the seminary, describing “an atmosphere of strange goings-on”.

Talking about the reason for his decision, the Archbishop cited allegations that gay dating app Grindr is being used by some trainee Catholic priests at the college.  His students will instead attend the Irish Pontifical College in Rome.

Speaking earlier on RTÉ News at One, he said: “There were no Dublin students in Maynooth for a long time. On this particular occasion I was somewhat unhappy – and I made this decision some months ago – about an atmosphere that was growing in Maynooth.”

So why is this happening? 

The Archbishop said that his decision had been based on the circulations of allegations in the form of “anonymous letters and blogs”.

He explained that two primary allegations had emerged from these: firstly that there is an active gay culture at the seminary, secondly that whistleblowers who had come forward with allegations had not been supported.

“I felt that there was a quarrelsome attitude of that kind which was not the place for my students to be. And I decided I’d send them to the Irish College [in Rome],” he said.

A culture of anonymous letters is poisonous.

st patrick's college St Patrick's College in Maynooth, Co Kildare Source: Wikicommons

The situation at the seminary is hitting national headlines with the Archbishop’s decision, but according to Anthony Murphy from the Catholic Voice, this is a problem that goes back more than a decade.

“We first started writing about this four or five years ago,” he told TheJournal.ie, “even as far back as 2002, a priest from the Raphoe diocese [in Donegal] wrote about it in the Irish Catholic. This has been going on since certainly 2002.”

“It is almost like history repeating itself.”

He also said that he was aware of 30 young men that had travelled internationally to study for the priesthood as a way of avoiding St Patrick’s College.

What now? 

It has yet to be seen how officials from the national seminary will react to the allegations.

According to a report in the Irish Independent the situation looks set to take on a legal dimension.

A former trainee priest has told the publication that he was harassed by a member of staff while studying in Maynooth and will meet with gardaí over the issue.

There are currently 55 people studying for the priesthood in Maynooth.

Representatives for St Patrick’s College, Maynooth were contacted for comment.  

- Comments have been switched off for legal reasons 

Read: Final appeal by man ejected from priesthood over abuse claims rejected

Also: Pope Francis: ‘If you’re unstable, see a doctor – don’t become a priest’

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