herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Irish College in Rome 'is seen as gay friendly'

THE Irish College in Rome has a "gay friendly" reputation and a series of homosexual incidents have been reported there, according to a report carried out for Pope Benedict.

The report, by the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has called for substantial reform at the institution which educates students for the priesthood.

Cardinal Dolan found that the college "suffers from the reputation of being gay friendly, however unjust such a reputation might be".

His report says "a recent series of homosexually directed improprieties have been reported at the college".

Some past students had also admitted they had "frequented gay bars".

But the Cardinal said he was "eager to underline" he did not find "any evidence of rampant immorality or a homosexual subculture".

Four homosexual episodes reported since 2009 are outlined in the report, seen by the Irish Times.

Improper

These incidents were widely known about among seminarians and priests and bishops back in Ireland which had given the college an unfortunate and undeserved reputation for "softness" on homosexuality.

One incident involved two Irish seminarians and the other three concerned non-Irish students.

None of these students are currently at the college.

In one case an Irish seminarian reported to his bishop in Ireland in 2010 that he was "very troubled by undue attention and improper advances by another seminarian".

The accused student was dismissed. In a second case a seminarian accused another of improper touching but it was found the accuser had a history of fabricating stories.

The third case involved a rector intervening when a non-Irish deacon at the college who reported feeling "a sense of discomfort" over attempts by a student priest to "get close to him".

The final case related to an Italian seminarian with a reputation as a flamboyant homosexual who had made outrageous remarks of sexual attraction for other students, but he may have been a "victim of unjust gossip".

Cardinal Dolan stressed that "the overwhelming majority of the seminarians are committed to a faithful chaste lifestyle and upset by the undeserved perception that the college now tolerates deviant behaviour".

His report also said "the staff did seem slow and uncertain in their response to these recent episodes and a few seminarians who reported the inappropriate behaviour felt they were treated with suspicion."

hnews@herald.ie

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