DUBLIN (Christian Examiner) – One of Ireland's oldest Catholic seminaries is being rocked by controversy after several newspapers claimed a "subculture of gay sex and the use of the gay dating app Grindr" was tearing apart the spiritual fabric of the campus.
The school, St. Patrick's Pontifical College and Seminary in Maynooth, founded in 1795, has issued a statement dismissing the claims.
According to multiple news sources, including Irish Central and the Irish Independent, the archbishop of Dublin claimed he would no longer send students to St. Patrick's after allegations surfaced of sexual harassment and improper sexual conduct at the school.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, in whose diocese the seminary sits, told the sources "there is a homosexual, a gay, culture and 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're training to be celibate priests, but (because) an app like that would be something that would be fostering promiscuous sexuality, which is certainly not in any way the mature vision of sexuality one would expect a priest to understand."
Martin reportedly ordered the immediate transfer of three of the seminary's students to the Irish Seminary in Rome. He told Irish Central he had his "own reasons for doing this."
He also attributed the transfers and a prohibition on other students enrolling there to a quarrelsome atmosphere "with anonymous letters being sent around."
"I don't think it this is a good place for students," Martin said, adding that some whistleblowers, trying to expose the controversy, were dismissed from the seminary.
Just what was in the anonymous letters sent to Catholic leaders is unknown, but the school's response provides some detail.
In the seminary's statement denying the allegations of sexual misconduct, it claimed there is "no concrete or credible evidence of the existence of any alleged 'active gay subculture'" at the school.
"As outlined clearly in the Seminary Rule, any student involved or promoting such behavior would be asked to leave the seminary formation program," the statement said.
It also said the anonymous letters sent to the school did not allege the sexual misbehavior of the staff of the school.
They did, however, apparently claim that seminarians reporting abuse were dealt with harshly. The seminary said it is "not true that seminarians are prohibited from reporting misbehavior or concerns."
The letters may have originated from six Catholic seminarians asked to take time off last year because they were becoming "too theologically rigid," The Irish Times reported.