BOSTON — Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston will not be attending next week’s World Meeting of Families in Dublin due to the ongoing investigation into St. John’s Seminary, the Archdiocese of Boston announced Wednesday.
Previously, Cardinal O’Malley had been scheduled to moderate a panel and discussion in Ireland titled “Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults.” The cardinal is the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
In a statement from the archdiocese, it was explained that “important matters pertaining to the pastoral care of St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston and the seminarians enrolled in the formation program there require the Cardinal’s personal attention and presence,” and he therefore would not be making the trip to Ireland.
After it became public that other dioceses had paid settlements to adult seminarians alleging abuse against the former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a handful of other, younger, former seminarians took to social media to share their own stories about what they experienced while in seminary. Several of these stories came from men who had studied at St. John’s.
St. John’s Seminary educates seminarians from most dioceses in New England, as well as those from the Dioceses of Oakland, California, and Rochester, New York.
In response to allegations of “activities which are directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood” at St. John’s, last week Cardinal O’Malley announced a “full, independent inquiry“ of the seminary. As part of the investigation, the cardinal placed Msgr. James Moroney, the seminary rector, on sabbatical for the fall semester and installed an interim rector.
The inquiry will examine the culture at St. John’s “regarding the personal standards expected and required of candidates for the priesthood,” as well as issues related to sexual harassment, sexually intimidating behavior and discrimination.
“The allegations made are a source of serious concern to me as Archbishop of Boston,” said Cardinal O’Malley in a statement last week, recognizing that being a priest necessitates earning the trust of both people in the Church as well as in the community.
“I am determined that all our seminaries meet that standard of trust and provide the formation necessary for priests to live a demanding vocation of service in our contemporary society.”