Monday, November 29, 2010

State gives €2m to Rome seminary

THE GOVERNMENT has contributed almost €2 million to refurbishment work at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, a seminary of the Irish Catholic Church.

Founded in 1628, the college is, according to its website, “the last of the many Irish colleges that were once scattered over Europe when it was not possible to educate priests in Ireland. 

Today the college is home to 60 students (seminarians), with half coming from Ireland and the others representing many different nations”.

The college is generally where Ireland’s Catholic bishops stay when they visit Rome on official business and sometimes when on private visits.

Its recent rectors have included the Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady and the Bishop of Killala John Fleming.

Its current rector is Msgr Liam Bergin.

Responding to a query from The Irish Times on why €1.95 million of an estimated total refurbishment cost, to date, of €2.08 million was being paid for by the Irish Government, a spokesman for the Taoiseach’s office said the funding “was provided in the context of the historical significance of the college”.

He continued that such “public support for conservation work at the college” was also made available because of “its value as a resource to the Irish community in Rome and to the many Irish people who visit Rome, and its role in supporting scholarship, conferences and publications relevant to Irish culture and history.”

He also said, “the support focused on preserving the fabric of the building, ensuring compliance with modern health and safety provisions (including fire safety), the restoration of the boundary wall, structural alterations related to damp and the modernisation of building facilities and services”.

It did not include “renovation of the college chapel, which has been undertaken separately by the college authorities.”

He said “support has also been provided for the Irish colleges in Paris and Louvain”.

However, neither the Irish college in Paris (now the Centre Culturel Irlandais) nor the Irish college in Louvain (now the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe) has any role where the church is concerned now.