A renegade group representing more than 800 Irish priests last night leaked information about a private Vatican report about an inspection of the Irish College in Rome.
The report was compiled by the popular Cardinal of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and was then sent on privately to Pope Benedict himself, but according to the leak in the Irish Times it has called for substantial reform of the institution which educates students preparing for the priesthood. Cardinal Dolan recently fought President Obama over ObamaCare and is continuing that legal battle. The clever and bright Cardinal presides over daily mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, New York and is a regular on NBC’s Today Show.
The report by Cardinal Dolan expressed concern about the staffing, as well as the atmosphere and philosophy of the college.
Cardinal Dolan found that the college “suffers from the reputation of being gay friendly, however unjust such a reputation might be”.
The report criticizes Ireland’s four Catholic archbishops — the trustees of the college — and alleges that staff were critical of any emphasis on the teaching authority of the church.
The archbishops issued a statement saying they were presented with a preliminary Vatican report which contained “some serious errors of fact”. They refused to elaborate.
However, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) last night said the report had “effectively destroyed” the reputation of the four priests involved with the Irish College.
“It is unacceptable that a report to the Pope, on a sensitive issue, should be conducted in such an incompetent fashion,” the group said. “No court of law would treat people in such a way.”
The report was carried out by Cardinal Dolan as part of the apostolic visitation into some dioceses, seminaries and religious institutions last year.
The report found egregious problems the four archbishops — Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop Michael Neary and Archbishop Dermot Clifford.
It is alleged that they were disengaged from college governance, with irregular meetings, minutes and agenda.
Last night, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore welcomed the Papal Legate Cardinal Mark Ouellet, Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin to a reception in Dublin Castle — but there was no comment on the report. The report also reportedly recommended a change in the staff.
The ACP called on the bishops “to publicly repudiate this report in the strongest possible terms and to support the priests”.
“Cardinal Dolan’s report not only undermines the reputation of priests who have not been given a right of reply, it also undermines the credibility of the whole visitation process,” the ACP said.
“It would appear that, in undertaking this particular visitation, conclusions were effectively drawn beforehand and then evidence to support them was actively sought.”
Speaking to the Irish Times from New York Cardinal Dolan said “While obviously others do not consider themselves bound by the promised confidentiality — so necessary and understandable to assure a fair and honest gathering of information (and) requested by the Apostolic See — I certainly do.”
A source says that three of the four staffers mentioned in the Cardinal Dolan’s leaked report were replaced last May.
About the Irish College in Rome
Founded in 1628, this is the last of the many Irish Colleges that were once scattered over Europe when it was not possible to educate priests in Ireland. Today the College is home to 60 students, with half coming from Ireland and the others representing many different nations. On this site you will find information on who lives here and on the College’s ongoing mission of formation.
The College organises different events for the Irish and for the wider international community in Rome. Almost 100 couples celebrate their marriage at the College each year; young people are prepared for the sacraments of First Penance, First Communion and Confirmation. Conferences are hosted on different aspects of religion, history and culture. Should you require further information on these events, just follow the appropriate links on this site. You may also access our library catalogue, browse recent publications from the College as well as see some of the more recent visitors to our house.
In an attempt to bring as many voices on this subject, The Catholic News Service offers their explanation of Cardinal Dolan’s leaked report.