Cardinal Sean O'Malley, archbishop of Boston, said he is launching an inquiry into allegations former seminarians made this week about their time at St. John's Seminary in Brighton.
An article posted online by ex-seminarian John Monaco led to an inquiry into allegations of "sexual deviancy and improper conduct” at the seminary, including excessive drinking.
”Some priests on the faculty would get drunk with a select group of seminarians and invite them into their rooms late at night,” Monaco wrote. “One night, a priest on the formation faculty got so drunk during a seminary party that he fell out of his chair.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley from the Archdiocese of Boston says he’s not able to verify or disprove these allegations, but wants the investigation to start as soon as possible, and has placed the rector of St. John’s, Monsignor James Moroney, on sabbatical for the fall semester, effective immediately.
“We’ve actually heard stories like this for years about many seminaries,” said Terence McKiernan from Bishop Accountability.org. “That tension between what the church preaches and what it allows to go on in the priesthood is part of the problem.”
Cardinal O’Malley said in a statement, "The allegations made this week are a source of serious concern to me as Archbishop of Boston. 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."
Monaco, who is one of two former seminarians at St. John’s making allegations this week, attended the seminary from 2014 to 2016 and is currently a graduate student in theology at Boston College.
In a statement to NBC10 Boston, he writes, in part, "...It is time to rid the Church of infestation and rot, because only then will true healing take place."
Monaco added that publishing his allegations led him to "a deeper solidarity with other victims affected by Church scandal." He also said he has complete trust in O'Malley's judgment and oversight.
Rev. Stephen E. Salocks will serve as interim rector.
O'Malley also said he has appointed a 3-member panel to oversee an inquiry into the allegations. They will submit their findings, along with a set of recommendations, to O'Malley.
Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney who has represented victims of clergy sexual abuse, issued a statement regarding the allegations.
"The recent reporting of sexual abuse at St. John's Seminary is further evidence that the Archdiocese of Boston is continuing to practice the cover up of sexual abuse and will not practice transparency to help sexual abuse victims heal," he wrote "The creation of an investigatory board or team should have taken place decades ago."
Garabedian added that the Archdiocese should release all records and information about the allegations at St. John's Seminary.
According to its website, St. John's Seminary prepares Roman Catholic seminarians for ordination to the priesthood through programs of human, pastoral, spiritual and academic formation. It is governed by a board of trustees chaired by O'Malley. It was founded in 1884, and chartered as a corporation doing business as a graduate school by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature.