Friday, May 28, 2010

Kerfuffle at Maynooth

Father Mildew has an interesting post about about a kerfuffle at Maynooth, an article appeared in the Irish Daily Mail by a former member of staff, Dr Dooley, suggesting that the college turns out collared social-workers and orthodox, faithful, pious students are persecuted. Fr Mildew then says...
....an open letter to himself [Dr Dooley] was posted on the notice board inviting students to sign up. The letter stated that Mr Dooleys article was misinformed and insulting to the majority of the community. When only two students signed up, the student who produced the letter went round to each student and invited them to sign but in the morning only very few had signed. But the President then addressed the student body and accused those who had written to Dooley of lacking elementary Christianity and should examine their consciences, as such communications were a sign of their not being suited to the priesthood.
It is sad that this is not just an Irish problem, obviously in wouldn't happen in an English seminary today but one continually hears from other parts of the world about students having to feign a lack of devotion to be acceptable to "old Church" authorities. I remember being advised to "keep that reactionary Ratzinger's books hidden" and not to quote him in essays.
In a way this reflects on a discussion on an earlier post, which is really about the nature of theology. The past, I suspect the President of Maynooth might be included here, treat theology as something to "de-bunk" or to analyse, whereas Tradition sees it as something to increase our sense of wonder and awe, to deepen our faith rather than undermine it. Theology feeds piety and prayer, something is wrong when it undermines it.

26 comments:

The Cellarer said...

I did a post grad Chaplaincy which was validated by Maynooth, i.e. they marked the submissions and my final one had numerous orthodox quotations and a few from Bishop POD's Fit for Mission documents.

It got passed with credit / distinction, can't remember the phrase they used, must have got lucky and got an orthodox marker!

Sharon said...

So all the thousands and thousands of words spoken by the Holy Father about the priesthood during the Year of the Priest have fallen on deaf ears? Perhaps if our Holy Father ceased "proposing" quite so much and started "imposing" a bit there might be a change in the Catholic world.

EFpastor emeritus (Email: Pastoremeritus@aol.com) said...

I love those last few sentences.

Independent said...

Looking at the footnotes in the works of the "reactionary" Ratzinger I wonder if in the early 1900's he would not have been regarded as a dangerous liberal.He quotes approvingly Lutherans and Anglicans on biblical matters and appears strongly committed to free enquiry. He indeed gives an example of piety and scholarship.

Cormac said...

I am a student at Maynooth, albeit not a clerical one. There may be elements of truth in Dr Dooley's comments. However, on the whole the academic formation provided to students at the college is excellent. There is a very high standard of teaching, both at St. Patrick's College (where students receive theology) and at the National University (where students take a BA/BSc. I'm not so sure either if the theology faculty is somehow promoting 'unorthodoxy'. The faculty possesses a number of well-known and internationally respected scholars, most notably Dr Thomas Norris, who, as far as I know, was a doctoral student of the Holy Father.

There may be some issues with the pastoral formation students receive, but I cannot confirm this. The liturgy at the college is one area of concern. The college chapel is one Ireland's architectural gems, but as the clerical population is small, Mass is now celebrated either in St. Joseph's or St. Mary's. St. Mary's underwent an horrific reordering in the late 1990s I think. The music used for Mass is normally modern compositions, both in English and Irish, much of which is by the choir's director, John O'Keeffe. The liturgy promoted in the college is one area which I would have grave concerns over.

However, I would urge caution about giving too much credence to Dr Dooley's comments. In the wake of the recent Murphy Report on child abuse in Dublin Dooley undertook a number of media interviews. In some he said that as a canon lawyer and priest, he would not report sexual abuse to the police if he became aware of it, provoking a public outcry (I am referring to an interview which he gave on BBC Radio Ulster). He was subsequently reprimanded by the a number of bishops for his comments.

Moretben said...

Father - I have become convinced that there is a kind of toxic zone where theology becomes indistinguishable from ideology; and where ideologies acquire a "theological" character - teleological, eschatological, universalist. Within this zone (a Venn diagram comes to mind - a kind of "Devil's mandorla" in the intersection of two circles), lying, slander, oppression, callous betrayal, assumption of the "false self", cognitive dissonance, vainglory, murder and every other kind of inhuman madness runs riot.

St Gregory of Nyssa puts it best: "Concepts create idols; only wonder grasps anything".

A. Hegarty said...

Independent - Ratzinger was indeed a "suspect of heresy" under the then Holy Office in the early 1950s. How things change...

Moretben said...

Theology feeds piety and prayer, something is wrong when it undermines it.

..or, theology proceeds from piety and prayer; whatever doesn't proceed from piety and prayer isn't theology - whatever it calls itself.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Moretben,
Nothing, nothing at all, has any value unless it leads us to union with God.
A theologian is one who prays, one who prays is a theologian

Anonymous said...

The Cellarer, It was not luck that gor you through. It is very different being a seminarian. We also had lay students in our seminary in Ireland. The lay people could say or do anything Orthodox . The powers that be would do nothing . Seminarians of course are a different breed and we were constantly marked down in our papers and belittled in public. As a seminarian I really envied the lay students.
Fr B

shane said...

Thankfully Maynooth will go the way of Clonliffe and abolish itself in a few years. The numbers are unsustainable and it's going to be impossible to replace some faculty. I imagine seminarians will go train in Rome, like their Scots counterparts. The sooner the better.

Cunctator said...

Cormac has the wrong Dooley when it comes to not reporting crime to the police. That was the former professor of canon law in Thurles seminary - Fr. Maurice Dooley. The Maynooth exposé was written by Dr Mark Dooley, lecturer in philosophy in Maynooth civil university.
Odd that Cormac wouldn'd have known that!

Simon Platt said...

But - if The Cellarer is training for chaplaincy, he can't be a layman, can he?

GOR said...

I think one of the problems in much of the seminary training in the decades after Vat II was a lack of foundation. In any subject, one needs to know the basics before engaging in further ‘research’ or questioning. What do we know for sure and what are the reasons for it. This includes demonstrating how others have gone astray (heresies, schisms, etc.) and why. Once you are well grounded in the fundamentals of theology, you can go ahead and consider other positions, theories etc.

As the Holy Father has pointed out to theologians, their study is not to try and find new doctrines – the Deposit of Faith is complete – but to seek out a better understanding of what we already know and believe. Their efforts should be to illuminate and inform, not to try and find something new and revolutionary.

In the ‘questioning years’ prior to and following Vatican II it seemed that to some teachers of theology everything was up for grabs (which was also borne out in the Liturgy…!), anything could be called into question and nothing was set in stone. Thus we got relativism and to be dogmatic was frowned upon. Tradition was downplayed or openly scoffed at by the ‘new breed’ of theologian. In fact, they had become ‘Protestant’: “it’s not in Scripture, therefore…”

It took a very strong student to pick his way through this and emerge unscathed at the end. Many didn’t and thus we got poorly-formed clergy who then proceeded to lead others astray, resulting in a whole generation of Catholics who were never properly catechized in the Faith.

The abuse scandal is one result of this. How men who should have been solidly grounded in Moral and Dogmatic Theology could justify or explain away their actions, is indicative of the formation they received. The falling away of congregations practicing their religion is another result. If you are not solidly grounded in the Faith, why bother with external observance? If you don’t know right from wrong what difference does abortion or contraception make – not to mention lying, cheating and stealing?

I’ll go one further… Not only did people not get a good grounding in the Faith initially, but there was little ongoing, further instruction from the pulpit! And this I blame on the emphasis - post Vat II - on preaching being based on the readings of the day. Aside from the fact that relatively few priests can do this effectively, there is a need for re-catechizing the faithful in the basic tenets of the Faith. Without the foundation, the edifice crumbles. Back to basics!

Anonymous said...

Cormac ,
You are getting your Dooleys mixed up. Dr Dooley of the Daily Mail is a lay man who was a lecturer in Maybooth. The Dr. Dooley you are refering to is Mons Dooley the best canon lawer in the country. Not only are you mixing up your dooleys but you are putting words in Mons Dooleys mouth.He did not state that he would not report abuse. He was answering very specific questions on the handling of the smith affair by a very young Fr Brady( Now Cardinal). He stated that Brady did not break the law as in Ireland at that time there was no mandatory reporting under Irish Law. He then Pointed out that under Irish law today there is still no obligation to report. However under Irish church Rules it is mandatory.
Fr B

Ma Tucker said...

Fr Ray Cormac (at 11.26) appears to have spread calumny against Dr Dooley, most likely accidently. Any chance of his post being remove for his sake and that of Dr Dooley's ? Opinions are one thing but it's not right to be saying things that are not true about another person.

See Cunctator 8.31pm

Fr Ray Blake said...

Ma T,
I think others have pointed Cormacs error

Dominic Mary said...

A. Hegarty;
as you say; how things change.

V. John XXIII once called for his file, in order to find out why he had been kept away from Rome for so long, and found the damning words 'Suspected of Modernism' !

He took up his pen, and wrote across the page 'We, John XXIII, Pope, declare that we were NEVER a modernist !'

I wonder if the Holy Father has done likewise ? :-)

Sadie Vacantist said...

Are the seminaries in Rome much better? Joseph Jordan was accepted for both the dioceses of Plymouth and then Cardiff and was ordained for the latter despite being a suspected abuser. He studied at the VEC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/979886.stm

If he had quoted Ratzinger during either one of his interviews he wouldn't have been accepted.

The Cellarer said...

Simon,

I did the course as I was leading a school chaplaincy team i.e. doing what I could to lighten load on chaplain.

http://how-the-west-was-lost.blogspot.com/2010/03/cardinal-obrien-responds-to-pope-on-lay.html

WatchingMedia said...

Everyone interested in the real teachings of the Church should read from cover to cover the "Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition" revised in accordance with the official Latin text promulgated by Pope John Paul II, and first printed in the US in March 2000.

We all know what everyone says about the word "assume".

Ernie Skillen said...

Archbishop Dolan of New York has just been appointed Apostolic Visitor of the Irish seminaries.
http://www.maynoothcollege.ie/news/ArchbishopDolanappointedVisitor.shtml

I was a seminarian at Maynooth and quite apart from the inappropriate sexual relationships among seminarians and between seminarians nd lay students The physical layout of the campus made it hard to see it as in any sense a seminary. It' wide open, with seminarisna nd lay students sharinf everything - libariries,chapels, dining rooms. Nowhere was private and there were nun spiritual directors and formation counselleors and directors of pastoral formation, all against the Roman rules.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Shut the place down and move to Rome will help a little but in truth decades of corruption having taken their toll.

Ordinary Irish people should be scandalised by the shambles which is Maynooth but like their British counterparts they just sit there and accept this crap as 'normal'.

I agree with Richard Williamson that a great chastisement is about to take place in Europe. The economic crisis is about to worsen and those who have caused it (the gamblers of London and New York) will press for war.

RJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RJ said...

Sadie: my impression is that the folk in the pew are not aware that this is going on.
I would agree with your epithet. Those of us who have the misfortune to be subjected to it don't have to accept it as normal. It's a very difficult situation for students who are orthodox. Protest and you risk being seen as some rabid 'right-wing' Catholic. One strategy is to make sure that one is as well-informed as possible about orthodox Catholic theology. This can then be presented in a courteous and reasonable way (a difficult thing when confronted with such provocative rubbish). Second: try and avoid the rubbish, except insofar as necessary to comply with course requirements (that's the painful part).

Ernie Skillen said...

I see that 8 deacons were ordained in Maynooth on Trinity Sunday, for which praise God. Three of them are from outside Ireland (2 Scots and a South African). The Maynooth website spoils it a bit by calling the ordaining Bishop a "presider". I wonder did the young decans dreasm when growing up that they one day might be a presider? I suppose this language keeps the liturgy dons happy.
http://www.maynoothcollege.ie/seminary/index.shtml