Irish Bishops to Seminary: Take Back Conservative Seminarians

by Ryan Fitzgerald  •  •  July 8, 2015   

Six seminarians were reportedly pushed out for being "too conservative"; Now three are coming back

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MAYNOOTH, Ireland, July 8, 2015 ( - Irish bishops have succeeded in getting three seminarians back into Ireland's national seminary in Maynooth after they were reportedly dismissed for being "too conservative."

On finishing their pastoral year, six seminarians in a class of ten had apparently been told not to return, to instead reconsider their vocations, allegedly because of their theological orthodoxy. Three of them will be back in the fall, however, because some local bishops reviewed the seminary's decision and disagreed with it.

The other three don't seem set to return any time soon, according to The Irish Catholic. "[O]ne of the six seminarians is to undertake a pastoral year in his diocese and another is to take time out, while one student remains in a state of limbo about his seminary future."

The seminary's president, Msgr. Hugh Connolly, is denying the controversy, though. He claims the situation of the seminarians in question has nothing to do with their orthodoxy. In fact, according to Msgr. Connolly, the seminarians weren't really asked to leave. He insists there's been "nothing out of the ordinary in terms of usual action between students, dioceses and the seminary in making a decision on what is the best next step for a particular student." Their various statuses, says the Maynooth seminary president, were "not a question of conservatism," but rather of "getting the right experience."

Nevertheless, Maynooth seminarians are on record for complaining in the past of a biased screening process designed to filter out theologically conservative students. Indeed, several years ago, a number of seminarians were reportedly suspended simply for wanting to kneel during the consecration at Mass.

The suspected clerical scene in Ireland was apparently so bad that in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI ordered a Vatican investigation. New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan was in charge of the investigation, which noted in the country "a certain tendency, not dominant but nevertheless fairly widespread among priests, religious and laity, to hold theological opinions at variance with the teachings of the magisterium."

"[T]his serious situation," it concluded, "requires particular attention, directed principally towards improved theological formation. It must be stressed that dissent from the fundamental teachings of the Church is not the authentic path towards renewal."


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