Apostolic Visitation in Ireland

As a follow up to the entry about the problems at the seminary in Maynooth, Ireland.. which if memory serves is triste scriptu the only seminary in Ireland… Ireland…

This is from the VIS:


Following the Holy Father’s Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the Apostolic Visitation of certain Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious congregations will begin in autumn of this year.

Through this Visitation, the Holy See intends to offer assistance to the Bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors. It is also intended to contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the Church in Ireland. [As the Holy Father wrote in his letter to the Irish, we need a return to traditional expressions of our Faith and penance, penance and penance.]

The Apostolic Visitors will set out to explore more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse [what about the causes?  contributing factors?] and the assistance owed to the victims; they will monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse, taking as their points of reference the Pontifical Motu Proprio "Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela" and the norms contained in Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland, commissioned and produced by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

The Visitation will begin in the four Metropolitan Archdioceses of Ireland (Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam) and will then be extended to some other dioceses.

The Visitors named by the Holy Father for the dioceses are: His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, for the Archdiocese of Armagh; His Eminence Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, for the Archdiocese of Dublin; the Most Reverend Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, for the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly; the Most Reverend Terrence Thomas Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa, for the Archdiocese of Tuam.

In its desire to accompany the process of renewal of houses of formation for the future priests of the Church in Ireland, the Congregation for Catholic Education will coordinate the visitation of the Irish seminaries, including the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. While special attention will be given to the matters that occasioned the Apostolic Visitation, in the case of the seminaries it will cover all aspects of priestly formation. The Most Reverend Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has been named Apostolic Visitor.  [A good choice.  I would have preferred to see in the list above, those looking at dicoeses, some non-Anglo speakers of English… Archbp. Dolan knows his way around a seminary and doesn’t take any B.S.]

For its part, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will organize the visitation of religious houses in two phases. Firstly it will conduct an enquiry by means of a questionnaire to be sent to all the Superiors of religious institutes present in Ireland, [and will they question the rank and file?] with a view to providing an accurate picture of the current situation and formulating plans for the observance and improvement of the norms contained in the "guidelines". In the second phase, the Apostolic Visitors will be: the Reverend Joseph Tobin, CSsR and the Reverend Gero McLaughlin SJ for institutes of men; Sister Sharon Holland IHM and Sister Mairin McDonagh RJM for institutes of women. They will carry out a careful study, evaluating the results obtained from the questionnaire and the possible steps to be taken in the future in order to usher in a season of spiritual rebirth for religious life on the Island.

His Holiness invites all the members of the Irish Catholic community to support this fraternal initiative with their prayers. He invokes God’s blessings upon the Visitors, and upon all the Bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of Ireland, that the Visitation may be for them an occasion of renewed fervour in the Christian life, and that it may deepen their faith and strengthen their hope in Christ our Saviour.


Painful to be sure, to be sure. 

May God and Mary and Patrick be with them.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. nzcatholic says:

    I cant say Im happy with the choice of visitors. I mean Cardinal Cormac Murphy?
    Im surprised that unlike the visitation that the Legion got this one is lacking some names with orthodox substance.
    Though Archbishop Dolan sounds like a good choice

  2. Magpie says:

    I’m glad Archbishop Dolan is visiting seminaries. That’s key. The rest of them I don’t know, except Cardinal Murphy…

  3. Sorbonnetoga says:

    There is a second seminary (2 or 3 year propaedeutics/philosophy program only) in Belfast. It’s on the same campus as St Malachy’s, the diocesan high school.

  4. Ceile De says:

    Well, thank heavens we Irish can look forward to the impeccably orthodox Archbishop of Toronto whose success in combatting demons is such that there are no longer any at all in Toronto:



    The Archdiocese of Toronto does not have an exorcist nor does it perform the rite of exorcism.”

  5. mpm says:

    AB Dolan (NY) had a terrific session with Fr. Groeschel back in Lent. He spent the first 15-20 minutes talking about how we’ve lost the habit of going to confession, and mentioned what a help it has been for him over the years. At the “break” you could hear him in the background calling out to the audience, “So, anybody want to go to Confession?”

  6. shane says:

    As I understand, 95%+ of seminarians in St Malachy’s come from abroad and go straight home after their course is finished.

  7. pberginjr says:

    Nice Ablative Absolute

  8. jaykay says:

    I know, I know, it’s primarily focused on the awful abuse scandals, but with the reference to the MP Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela I just couldn’t help thinking that many of the root causes can be illustrated in the almost total ignoring of another recent MP. Let’s see, what was it called…?

  9. Please Fr. Z give up the stage Irish – no one in Ireland says ‘to be sure, to be sure’. Did we ever? As for the visitation – I would’ve liked to see Pell there and as you say some English-speaking non-anglos. In fact too many of these names are Irish – we need some objective boots to our behinds here. The Church really needs to be seen to be doing something effective and fast. At least Dolan will look at seminaries. I hope they get better co-operation than they got from the women religious in America. Then again if they take their time the women religious in Ireland will have largely died out. Their age profile is probably the worst in the Church here.

  10. Magpie says:

    We Irish say ‘to be sure, to be sure’ when we’re mocking… the Irish!!!

  11. williamhussey says:

    I would’ve liked to see Pell there and as you say some English-speaking non-anglos. In fact too many of these names are Irish – we need some objective boots to our behinds here.

    If Pell is going to be names to the office for Bishops in Rome he will be running the visitation. He wears a size fifteen!!!

  12. asperges says:

    So nothing will change in Armagh, then… Who’s covering Maynooth? Perhaps they could close the seminary down, judging by the earlier post on this blog.

  13. shane says:

    asperges, it’ll have to be done sooner or later. Maynooth now has less than one eight of the seminarians it had in the 60s – and back then there were six other diocesan seminaries still open. Much of its faculty will be very hard to replace. The Vatican needs to shut it down ASAP. The seminarians can all be moved to Rome, as has happened to the Scots seminarians.

  14. Genna says:

    Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor? Is this the same man who as a bishop allowed an abusive priest, later jailed, to recommence his ministry?

  15. Roland de Chanson says:

    Though I have been critical of Cardinal O’Malley for his seeming indifference to the restoration of the Usus Antiquior, I must say he is an excellent choice for this particular assignment. Appointed archbishop of Boston after the débâcle of Bernie Law’s administration, he has healed many of the festering wounds of the pedophile and homosexual scandals. As bishop of Fall River (MA) he cleaned up the filth of the James Porter scandal; in Palm Beach, he restored the Church following upon two (!) former bishops who were themselves molesters. He is the right man for the job and I wish him success.

    Would that the Holy Father appoint an apostolic visitor to investigate a serial facilitator emeritus ensconced at Santa Maria Maggiore.

  16. Probably Dolan is there to run things, and to counter charm and BS attempts with charm and insistence. Murphy-O’Connor is probably there so that people don’t complain that the Americans are in charge, as someone who knows the Irish bishops better than Dolan, and possibly as a punishment/reparation for not minding his own seminaries and abuse problems enough.

  17. mike cliffson says:

    I hate to comment antiEnglishly on an american blogsite : you ve all seen too many films with brits as villains, you read your history your own way, so many of you turned a blind eye to the fact that the IRA kill/ed real people every bit as much as the mafia…..
    Hoping to have annoyed you enough but not too much.
    Maynooth, Ireland
    If I neither know what goes on now on the other island nor can say owt of the last 100 more years intricacies, why comment?
    Because there’s asimple warning for the church worldwide:
    Very Broad picture, very big brush strokes.
    Go back best poart of 2 ceturies.Make a “thought experiment”. yOU ARE NOT THE DEVIL INCARNATE SPENDING 24HRS ADAY DOING DOWN ALL iRISH AND ALL CATHLICS AND PREFERRABLY BOTH. You’ve got good intentions (devil for the use of, roads to hell for the paving with, BTW)You’re running 4 home nationalites from london, plus a national debt from the french wars (that’ll last till 1906!) plus an aquired empire that outstrips your manpower and resouces, booming tho the latter are, with a smaller army than ruritania ( parliament ´ll never vote a bigger one, they represent everyone in this :big Govnmt isn’t trusted-would that it were still so). Th e population is unruly. You can-just- keep tabs on what’s afoot. One problem with catholics in Ireland – they’re beginning to lose the celtic respect for knowledge as such, but you can’t rely on that, most worrisomely their priests are trained all over europe, they’re dodgy enough as it is without picking up ideas from vallodolid(spain) and whereever, coming home and spreading them.
    What to do?
    Stump up cash – and aren’t they moaning always about their taxes paying for the Church of Ireland and the regium donum for nonepiscopalian Irish protestants? towards a (Single, big, controllable, easily spyonable ) seminary
    and. quid pro quo
    Irish priests train at home? All of em.
    Bait taken.
    Where tens of thousands of good holy priests have been trained, quite often well trained, for the priesthood.
    We need no scandals never at maynooth for the negative side effects, worse than those consciously intended, which were bad enough):
    Which result is Diabolic, however comparatively minor.


    US independant catholic education, hospitals, European cathlic education….
    Aint citizens got some rights towards getting some money of EVERONE’s taxes going cathlicwards?
    YEAh sure.
    But somehow (my opinion) Ceasar’s heavyhand corrupts, even just from the thought that this nipple might be withdrawn. A head teacher sofpedals perhaps, a bishop worries, a pp gets ulcers, the faithful ,(lookat germany,) relax till they’re so low-profile they’re horizontal
    Aint we gotta Father in heaven?
    Don’t he know our material needs as a church ?
    Can’t we trust him?
    We don’t gotta go to ceasar cap in hand ;
    and if
    Ceasar come to us all smiles with this nice wooden horse…
    Well, not sure how a bishop oughter say “get Lost” xtianly…
    THEY are into Simony.
    And WE are corrupted by the first free lunch tho it be our own tax money ( asmidgin) coming in.
    Look properly into Irish history other than as a simple fairy tale to bash brits with and feel good about.
    Look at Maynooth , not what it IS, which if itisn’t good, could be.
    But what it replaced and avoided.
    Solo Dios Basta.

  18. robtbrown says:

    mike cliffson,

    I take it you’re not a scholastic.

  19. Son of Trypho says:


    best comment to date.

  20. cmm says:

    I agree that they must study the causes and possible contributing factors to root out sexual abuse. Possible contributing factors I have heard mentioned: secrecy; lack of transparency, clericalism, homosexuality, celibacy, immaturity, absence of women from leadership positions, lack of sacramental and devotional practices, misplaced concern for the avoidance of scandal, misplaced priority to the reputation of the church, lack of justice. Plenty of possibilities!

  21. jaklyn says:

    Good to see the visitation is taking place. Abp Dolan should do a good job with the seminaries, but the diocesan visitors do not inspire confidence – Armagh should be OK

  22. medievalist says:

    I don’t know the full CV of either +Prendergast or +Collins (my bishop), but I suspect the Canadian contingent may reflect the 1980s and 1990s experience of dealing with abuse over here. Archbishop Collins is an excellent ordinary, a “Benedictine” appointment, who is a true pastor. Although a mark of the Holy Father’s faith in him, this assignment is one I’m sure that no one wanted since it will mean wading through so much filth.

  23. mike cliffson says:

    Dear robtbrown
    No, not a scholastic.Nor an aristotealean. I’m not up there mentally with the big boys. I’m a failed civil engineer as has by God’s grace been able to feed a family thru teaching (Them as can, do……)
    I`m Just an appalling sinner who has been knocking around this world for three score years, with many wholly undeserved blessings, such as more than 10 kids, youngest seven , and one grandchild, and an insifficient but grwing awe of how God works in and thru history, and how history has shaped nations, and how evanescent we are:
    And I do see a number of things
    that As I said , who looks but at maynooth now misses many nonbarking nocturnal dogs
    that we have tunnel vision
    that irish christianity has been a boon for the saving of souls in a way it never would have been but for genoicide and persecution.
    that Irish victimspinning is a snare and a delusion and a a useless permanent bitterness, yet suffer they did, mightily, in different ways, in different centuries
    But that you need to see what the irish sufferred in an intelligent light, and as in the case of maynooth, perhaps it’s too subtle for you
    That this is probably impossible for american citizens with cheapjack black and white narratives, st pat’s parades with leprechauns and beer and christ excized, gud-guy badguy minds and cheap paternalism, sorry, Im a commenter not a blogger, If I could communicate with USa minds I’d be making millions..
    Would you look at yourself, your home town, your home state, etc, htru MSM eyes only?
    Well then, don’t do it with the British isles.
    You maight learn somthing
    which might be iuseful
    INSIST on main point:
    BEWARE BEWARE BEWARE Getting owt back from caesar once he’s had it!
    If you think you’re the first to be bamboozled by, eg, health schemes, look at history.
    If you can.
    Sorry if that isnt scholastic or pure something or other, Im just an old guy boring the pants off everyone from experience that is probably irrelevant and certainly uninteresting.
    God bles you all
    Prayers pls, notwithstanding.Woul

  24. TNCath says:

    Here is a link to Archbishop Dolan’s address at Maynooth, just a few days before the announcement was made naming him to the Apostolic Visitation. It is vintage Dolan.


  25. Gladiatrix says:

    I think HHTP has been clever in his selection. He has deprived the Irish media and intelligentsia of any opportunity to cry racism or colonialism in the event that the Apostolic Visitation results in severe and embarrassing criticism.

    If the apostolic visitors were not of Irish descent the resulting crescendo of abuse of their conclusions can only too easily be imagined.

  26. robtbrown says:

    Mike Cliffson,

    For an engineer you do a pretty good James Joyce.

    1. I have known a lot of Americans with Irish blood, and I never heard one complain about the English. My impression has been that they are at best marginally interested in Ireland. St Pat’s Day here is mostly an opportunity for a parade and to drink green beer.

    BTW, during my early Roman years I was stunned to hear the Irish harping on the Brits.

    2. Ireland has sent a lot of good priests to the US (one of whom gave me instruction 40 years ago). On the other hand, I have heard complaints from priests about the cliquishness of FBI’s, their sentimentalism, and them being more attached to Dublin than Rome.

    3. Although simplicity of life is necessary for Catholics, more so for priests, and even more so for religious, it is not necessary for a people to be poor or persecuted in order for the faith to flourish. The Church in France flourished for years, and the Abbey of Solesmes was built with most of their monks coming from the French nobility.

    Bonum sui diffusivum est.

  27. shane says:

    Mike Cliffson is clearly a troll and trying to wind people up.

  28. shane says:

    Just seen this on the Catholic Truth blog…well worth a watch…I’ve never laughed so hard in my life (particularly at the one of St Patrick):

    “Take a look at these videos ( http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Give+up+your+aul+sins&hl=en&client=opera&hs=8vs&rls=en&prmd=v&source=univ&tbs=vid:1&tbo=u&ei=izAETLG2LJL-0gTA46H3Ag&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CB4QqwQwAA ), which will make you smile – small Irish children in school talking about various bible stories. Hilarious. But notice, they have a good knowledge base (if the chronology is sometimes confused!) These pupils were being taught on the cusp of the crisis, so there are interesting issues of Catholic education to be considered and you might, justifiably, wonder how contemporary pupils would fare when invited to “tell the men from the television” about the Faith.”

  29. AnAmericanMother says:

    Shane, those are great!

    Love the story of St. Patrick’s youth . . . . the basics of it are there!

  30. shane says:

    AAM, they are very good. I also loved the one on Lazarus also. I think they were recorded in the 60s – but they were actually genuine recordings, not staged.

  31. shane says:

    Good blog here on the apostolic visitation…


    (don’t know who the Fr Paul guy is, he seems to blame all the Church’s current ills on the pre-conciliar Church)

  32. jaykay says:

    Shane: if memory serves the recordings of the kids were made in the early 60s when rote learning of the catechism was still in force (still was in the late 60s too, as I painfully remember!). However even a decade later it had changed so any person attending a primary school from the early 70s onwards would most likely not have been immersed in the catechism to the extent we were… although some teachers did continue to use it as I know from younger friends, particularly in schools run by Orders. The squishy modern stuff apparently came-in in force from the mid-70s and became something of a cottage industry with all sorts of texts going around so that religious education has come to resemble a Green Party conference with tree-hugging planet worship high on the agenda, or so I hear. The God guy is a bit of an embarrassment, one gathers.

  33. shane says:

    jaykay, the archbishop responsible for abolishing the Penny Catechism – Archbishop Ryan (ultramodernist who had been previously sacked from teaching seminarians at Clonliffe by his precedessor Abp. McQuaid) later came to regret it before he died.

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