I received a note from a Irish priest friend about articles in the Irish Daily Mail concerning problems at the seminary in Maynooth. I had planned to write about it, but others have done some of the heavy lifting already.
This is depressing stuff. And it sounds exactly like what the seminary I was in the USA over 20 years ago.
Honestly, I thought this sort of thing was finally over.
Here is Fr. Mildew on the topic with my emphases and comments.
The Article by Mark Dooley is entitled Sin within the Church is born in Seminaries and my friend in Ireland who sent me the article tells me there is a follow up this week which he is sending me.
Mark has visited and lectured in Seminaries and reports that Irish Seminaries are hotbeds of serious moral decay which is devastating the Church in this country. Their culture is one which rejects piety and holiness in favour of religious laxity and moral confusion. This is resulting in priests who barely believe in the doctrine they were ordained to promote. Mark speaks then of courageous young men who have told him about what is going on, and even have to conceal their true piety at the risk of being thrown out of the seminary. [I’m having a flashback.] One seminarian complained to Mark he was not allowed to knell during Mass. He has learnt that some professors have told him there is no such thing as transubtstantiation [Exactly what my waterloo was at my seminary… a prof, priest, who explicitly denied transsubtantiation.] and that he should not look to Rome as "they dont know anything". Often the Rosary is frowned upon. Seminarians have been taught that the Mass is just a memorial of a past event and is only a "gathering of the Community" to remember the event. [The same doctrine denying priest told us that when an "ordained minister says the words of institution over bread and wine, no real change takes place. It becomes a symbol of the unity of the community gathered there in that moment." How many things are wrong with that?] Meanwhile in the Seminaries he claims, excessive drinking and dubious sexual practices are overlooked. [Yes… this is like a nasty flashback.] He claims that the seminaries are still refusing to accept that there is anything wrong with their training methods and refusing in effect to teach that the priest should be formed in the image of Christ . Later on the current erroneous teaching leads in part at least to the abuse scandals of today.
My own comment is that I have found small examples of this in the past in the training of priests over here….but many years ago. Students who were told to leave because of their piety and even homsexuality cases. A recent case concerns a priest who was ordained 20 years ago who was teaching that one could not accept that the words used by Our Lord in the Gospel were ever uttered, and that what mattered at Mass was the Community. He has now been "retired".
Anyone reading this ever think about giving financial support to Maynooth? You might want to ask some questions.
Father Mildew has an interesting post about about a kerfuffle at Maynooth, an article appeared in the Irish Daily Mail by a former member of staff, Dr Dooley, suggesting that the college turns out collared social-workers and orthodox, faithful, pious students are persecuted. Fr Mildew then says…
….an open letter to himself [Dr Dooley] was posted on the notice board inviting students to sign up. The letter stated that Mr Dooleys article was misinformed and insulting to the majority of the community. When only two students signed up, the student who produced the letter went round to each student and invited them to sign but in the morning only very few had signed. But the President then addressed the student body and accused those who had written to Dooley of lacking elementary Christianity and should examine their consciences, as such communications were a sign of their not being suited to the priesthood.
It is sad that this is not just an Irish problem, obviously in wouldn’t happen in an English seminary today but one continually hears from other parts of the world about students having to feign a lack of devotion to be acceptable to "old Church" authorities. I remember being advised to "keep that reactionary Ratzinger’s books hidden" and not to quote him in essays. [This needs to be unmasked where ever it takes place.]
In a way this reflects on a discussion on an earlier post, which is really about the nature of theology.
The past, I suspect the President of Maynooth might be included here, treat theology as something to "de-bunk" or to analyse, whereas Tradition sees it as something to increase our sense of wonder and awe, to deepen our faith rather than undermine it. Theology feeds piety and prayer, something is wrong when it undermines it.
I think you get the idea.
Our seminaries are getting better. They really are. But there are some relics of the really awful still out there. They are still out there… but they are fewer and fewer and fewer.