St Mary’s College, Oscott, has said that claims it is run by a “homosexual clique” that abuses Church teaching on sexuality are distorted and false.
In a statement written in response to an open letter by a former member of staff, Fr David Marsden, SCJ, to the bishops of England and Wales, the College said that the way of life at Oscott was faithful to the teaching of the Catholic Church.
In the letter, which was published on Catholic websites including LifeSiteNews and Church Militant this week, Fr Marsden alleged the existence of a “homosexual clique” at the seminary that was being overlooked because of a “homosexual culture in the Church’s hierarchy”.
He said that “the normal, heterosexual students in Oscott” called for all gay and bisexual students and members of staff at the college to be dismissed.
Fr Marsden, who was dismissed from his role as formation tutor this year, said that he was fired for striving to uphold the Church’s teaching on sexuality, after he recommended that an openly gay seminarian discontinue formation. He said that dissent from Church teaching, and the admission of gay men to the priesthood, was “the root cause of the most pressing scandal of our times”. He said the problem began during the selection process.
Speaking to The Tablet the Rector of St Mary’s, Canon David Oakley, said Oscott does not have a selection conference but receives men for formation who have been selected by their dioceses and religious congregations.
He added: “We do our best to form chaste and celibate priests who are prepared for mission in this increasingly challenging world. I am very proud of what we do.”
“Fr Marsden was asked to step down from the formation team for a number of reasons. As some of these are subject to legal review I am unable to comment at the moment.”
In its statement Oscott said the letter offers “a distorted and false picture of life and formation at St Mary’s College, Oscott, in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.”
It added that the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, and the seminary trustees had full confidence in Canon Oakley and his staff.