Cardinal O’Malley orders investigation into Boston seminary

Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston

The Archbishop of Boston has said that he has asked the rector of the main archdiocesan St John Seminary to go on sabbatical leave immediately and is asking for an investigation of allegations made on social media about activities there “directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood.”

“At this time, I am not able to verify or disprove these allegations,” said Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley in a statement sent to media via email. He does not say in the statement what the allegations are about.

In a statement released by the archdiocese, Cardinal O’Malley said that Fr Stephen Salocks, Professor of Sacred Scripture, will serve as interim rector at St John Seminary as Mgr James Moroney, its rector, goes on sabbatical leave for the fall semester, “in order that there can be a fully independent inquiry regarding these matters,” he wrote.

Cardinal O’Malley said he also has appointed a group “to oversee an inquiry into the allegations made this week, the culture of the seminary regarding the personal standards expected and required of candidates for the priesthood, and any seminary issues of sexual harassment or other forms of intimidation or discrimination.”

He said he has asked the group to submit its findings as soon as possible.

“The allegations made this week are a source of serious concern to me as archbishop of Boston,” he wrote. “The ministry of the Catholic priesthood requires a foundation of trust with the people of the church and the wider community in which our priests serve. 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. ”

Cardinal O’Malley is one of Pope Francis’ chief advisers on clerical sexual abuse and heads the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Boston was the epicentre of the abuse scandal that erupted in the church in 2002. The Boston Archdiocese was then headed by Cardinal Bernard Law.