'Unholy' mess in Maynooth shows how out of touch Archbishop is

By David Looby

Published 13/08/2016 | 00:00

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

So the hallowed halls of the National Seminary Maynooth are, in fact, dens of hormonal young men seeking companionship and love.

Surprise, surprise. The Catholic Church has tried to shape the sexual mores of this country's people for hundreds of years. I have clear recollections - as recent as the bank holiday weekend - of my father recalling the proselytising and pontificating of men of the cloth on the pulpit, getting all hot and bothered as they told the poor souls in the congregation about how they'll go to hell for sins of the flesh.

Today we live in less prehistoric times and yet the church is still clinging to its dogma.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's decision to transfer three seminarians to Rome smacks of other transfer decisions made by the Irish Catholic Church down through the years. For men of faith who avouch believing while not seeing, it seems strange that they so often believe that shunting the trouble makers out of sight will get rid of the 'problem.'

From what I gather some seminarians were using the gay dating website Grindr and there was some homosexual activity in the college. I have friends who are gay and can clearly recall how difficult it was for them to come out. The country still treats gay people as second class citizens and that is wrong.

Dr Martin came under fire for his decision to shift the students involved over to Rome, a city once known for its bacchanalian partying and loose morals. Fr Brendan Hoban said the National Seminary could be extremely damaged by the move after Dr Martin said he does not believe the seminary is the right environment for men to study to become priests. The Archbishop said he made his decision to send the Dublin seminarians at Maynooth to study at the Irish College in Rome because he was 'somewhat unhappy' about a growing atmosphere in Maynooth.

'I felt that the quarrelsome attitude of that kind was not the healthiest place for my students to be,' he said.

Fr Hoban said he found the decision remarkable given that Dr Martin has said that students should be prepared [for the priesthood] in their own culture. 'It seems extraordinary that attention is being given to moving deck chairs on the Titanic rather than getting to the issues that are important.'

And the issues are a lack of priests, young priests in particular. Sounding a note of calm realism in a sea of over-excitement, Fr Hoban added that the reality is that in a seminary there would always be a mixture of heterosexual and gay candidates. 'There will be, from time-to-time, incidents that maybe people would prefer that didn't happen. But they do happen, human nature being what it is.'

There is a clash between generations with many of our parents adopting an almost condescending attitude to this generation for turning its back on the church and all it espouses even while they, themselves, are conflicted about it. Choice was not something our parent's generation had. They had stoicism and prayer. Times have changed and there is no escaping that. For the church to survive priests must be allowed to marry and have children. We cannot go back to the days of frustrated men spitefully shaping children's lives. Is that good for anyone? We need to embrace choice and let people be who they are.

Sending students off to Rome on the basis of anonymous claims of misbehaviour is not the answer. Realism is.

Wexford People

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