Mgr Hugh Connolly says reports alleging that the seminary may close are 'without foundation'

The president of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, has denied that the seminary is going to close, after speculation following the end of the Apostolic Visitation.

Mgr Hugh Connolly spoke after the Irish Catholic reported that the Apostolic Visitors to Ireland, and in particular Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, will recommend that Maynooth be shut down and the seminarians moved to the Irish College in Rome, which will be reformed.

Mgr Connolly said: “There are 72 men studying for the priesthood in Maynooth, making us the largest in Europe. Media reports today about the possible closure of the seminary are without foundations.

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“St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, is a vibrant centre of seminary formation and theological research.”

He added that Maynooth “is confident of its contribution to the future of the Church in Ireland”, and said that the Apostolic Visitation was a “positive and affirming experience for the whole college community”.

The Irish Catholic suggested that Archbishop Dolan was unsatisfied with the orthodoxy of the theology teaching at Maynooth, and quoted an anonymous academic at the college that the Visitors were “appalled” by the standards at the college in county Kildare.

Archbishop Dolan is said to have requested class notes from moral theology lectures as well as presentations to students at the college in order to assess the suitability of what is being taught there.

Maynooth College has also come under pressure due to staffing problems. The seminary currently employs only one full-time canon law lecturer, and relies upon part-time lecturers from the National University of Ireland.

The Visitors are expected to present their report to the Pope in the next few months.

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