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Following the dark revelations of the McCarrick scandal, former seminary formator, Fr. David Marsden, decided it was time to go public on the real reason he resigned from Maynooth and why he remains deeply concerned about the presence of a powerful gay subculture in the national seminary.
The year is 2015 and debate in Ireland is dominated by the state's plan to change the constitution to allow pairs of the same sex to "marry" — with such a blatant assault on God's plan for marriage one might expect the Church to be vocal in promoting the natural law — yet despite the intensity of the campaign, there was silence from much of the hierarchy — priests and bishops did not speak — afraid, unsure or compromised — we do not know. But the silence was deafening.
Even in the heart of Catholic learning — the Pontifical University in Maynooth — there was silence apart from one lone clerical voice supported by the small group of orthodox seminarians left in the controversial seminary.
During a meeting of the seminary council and heads of faculty, months before the referendum, Fr. Marsden suggested that the seminary hold a novena or holy hour or consider some other prayerful devotion so the seminarians and college staff could unite in prayer for a faithful outcome. Instead of support, his idea was dismissed by the president — it was clear that the other priests did not want to do anything spiritual or temporal to defend the teaching of the Church. In fact, Fr. Marsden was left with the impression that many of the staff preferred to remain silent and not even mention the referendum, never mind speak out against it. The staff dining room became a place where the referendum was never mentioned.
In the run-up to the same-sex "marriage" referendum, Fr. Marsden delivered two powerful homilies in the seminary in which he spoke out strongly in defense of marriage between a man and woman and denouncing from the pulpit the perverted notion that people of the same sex could marry.
It was after the second homily that he was called into the president's office and informed that a complaint had been made against him but the identity of the individual was not revealed to him. Father Marsden strongly suspects it was a friend of a homosexual seminarian who made the complaint as the Mass was on a Sunday morning and therefore open to all the students from Maynooth University.
It was during this meeting that the president aired a concern that Fr. Marsden was becoming a "one issue person" which implied he was becoming anxious that he was speaking out too much about the referendum and homosexuality in general. Father Marsden responded by saying the only reason he could be called a "one issue person" in the seminary was because he was the only person saying anything about the referendum or homosexuality. The other staff members were either afraid to speak out or were homosexual themselves!
Despite the opposition from the staff Father Marsden received much support and was admired by many of the seminarians. But he was also aware of an active and vocal gay subculture operating freely in the seminary. When the referendum was passed this group became emboldened and had no fear in ensuring the others knew they were gay, sexually active and in the seminary with the full knowledge and support of their bishops.
Against this backdrop, the seminarians were becoming concerned — the seminary in which they were training to become Catholic priests not only seemed to take a very liberal view of Catholic teaching but also encouraged a gay subculture to develop in the seminary. Exasperated and at the point of desperation, one of the seminarians decided enough was enough and decided to write an anonymous letter to the bishops' conference pleading with the bishops to intervene. The letter named seven active homosexual seminarians.
It is understood that this letter was sent back from the bishop's office to the president of the seminary, Msgr. Hugh Connolly, but rather than take action to investigate the claims in the letter the seminary council began a witch hunt to discover the author. In the end, a completely innocent seminarian was accused based on the fact that he had reported two seminarians — one of them his close friend — when he found them in bed together. No proof was given; he was simply accused and thrown out of the seminary.
Father Marsden challenged one of the most notorious homosexual seminarians about his disordered lifestyle but was given an arrogant response: "My bishops knows, the seminary council knows, my spiritual director knows — none of them have a problem with it so neither should you" — in other words, shut up, this is none of your business. It was after this encounter that Fr. Marsden knew it was now not possible to conduct proper formation in the seminary as such widespread dissent of Church's teaching was blatant amongst the seminary council and the spiritual directors. It was at this point that he wrote a letter to Msgr. Connolly tendering his resignation.
When Father Marsden tried to raise the problems he was seeing in the seminary with the Church authorities, the response was to not only ignore his concerns but to ridicule him for raising them in the first place. He recalls one very high-ranking cleric stating that "you see gays under the bed!" I wonder what he would think of that statement now in the wake of the McCarrick scandal.
In the end, Fr. Marsden could no longer work in the seminary and retain his integrity so he chose to resign from what he describes as an "institution riddled by systemic disobedience to Church teaching."
It was reported in the secular press during the summer of 2016 that the reason for his resignation was a conflict of theological outlook but this was incorrect. There certainly was a huge divergence of theological opinion with many of Fr. Marsden's friends being amazed at how long he managed to stay in the seminary. It was the issue of homosexuality which brought things to a head. The seminary has long been a "cesspool of liberal theology and heterodoxy" and so those few staff members, down through the years, who maintained a fidelity to the Magisterium were often isolated and subtly persecuted.
Father Marsden describes the model of formation in Maynooth as "a dictatorship of blandness," meaning that any sort of vibrant or orthodox expressions of the Faith on the part of seminarians were harshly dealt with and suppressed. In fact, the term that was bandied about on a regular basis during staff meetings was "shadow formation." This referred to students who went about studying orthodox theology from online blogs and media sites unconnected to the seminary as "the tripe they were getting served up by the theology faculty was in most cases utter drivel."
Father Marsden explained, "It is my honest assessment that the formation and academic staff in Maynooth are either liberal or homosexual and a significant number are both." The liturgy department seemed to be particularly infected with these two issues. One staff member was infamously called a "Bin man" by a seminarian as he hated wearing a Roman collar and was often found sitting in Pugin Hall endlessly gossiping about seminarians.
However, it was towards the end of our discussion that Fr. Marsden informed me of his most worrying discovery — the Irish version of McCarrick. Maynooth has long been a hotbed of dissent from Church teaching where elderly liberal theologians like Enda McDonagh retain a high degree of influence on the teaching staff. Another such priest who lived in the seminary until his death last year was a priest of Meath diocese, Fr. Ronan Drury — reading his obituaries and the praise heaped on him by bishops and the current president of the seminary, Fr. Michael Mullaney one might picture Fr. Drury as a learned and jovial priest, popular with all in the seminary which was his home for 42 years — he was professor of homiletics there since 1977 until his death last year. He was also editor of the liberal Furrow magazine for 40 years.
However, Fr. Marsden discovered a much darker and secretive side to Fr. Drury — known also by his nickname "Kitty" — needless to say, he was a notorious figure among the gay subculture in the college. His behavior was such an open secret among the students that even the normally cautious Msgr. Connolly felt it necessary to inform Fr. Marsden that a credible allegation of molestation had been made against Fr. Drury by an individual — the complaint was regarding inappropriate touching by Fr. Drury of this person.
Later, a priest also confided in Fr. Marsden alleging that Drury had molested him as a young and vulnerable first-year seminarian. How many more people did Fr. Drury molest, were other complaints made against him and what did the authorities do with the complaints? At the very least, Msgr. Connolly should have suspended this homosexual predator. The Catholic Voice would like to encourage any of his victims to come forward with the possibility of speaking in confidence about any abuse they experienced during their time in the seminary. Please use the contact email: email@example.com and we will listen to you in the strictest confidence.
A place like Maynooth is a playground for the likes of Fr. Drury where he had daily one to one access to young male students. The question for the authorities is: who knew, was his bishop informed and if Msgr. Connolly was concerned about his behavior what did he do to protect seminarians? Why was Fr. Drury allowed to continue living there with open access to vulnerable young men. It is evident from Fr. Marsden's testimony that an active and secretive homosexual subculture is being allowed to thrive in the seminary with the approval of the ecclesial authorities — some of whom Fr. Marsden suspects are also same-sex attracted themselves.
At the time of going to press, numerous attempts were made to contact the various bishop trustees of the college but none felt it important enough to return our calls. The current president of Maynooth was also contacted but he refused to answer any questions about Fr. Drury's deviant behavior. The circle of secrecy protects it's own.
But the faithful will not accept cowardice or silence and demand an open and transparent investigation into the various scandals which have afflicted Maynooth for at least 30 years — were payments made, who authorized the culture of cover-up and secrecy? The only sure way to end the disease in Maynooth is to send the remaining small number of seminarians to the Irish College in Rome and to close the seminary for a year or more until such an investigation is carried out and the recommendations from it fully implemented.
The long-suffering faithful and those seminarians who have been abused and persecuted deserve such transparency or, alternatively, the seminary should simply close. It is no longer fit for purpose and certainly not a place to send our future priests for formation, and parents should do all in their power to dissuade sons from going there. This is a defining moment for the Church in Ireland and decent Catholics should not rest until every bishop stands up and takes direct action to purge the filth from the Church.
Republished with permission from the Lumen Fidei Institute.