Cardinal expands seminary review, brings in outside firm

BRAINTREE -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley announced in an Oct. 11 statement that he has engaged an outside law firm to conduct the inquiry into conduct and culture at St. John's Seminary as well as expand the scope of the inquiry to include all three seminaries sponsored by the Archdiocese of Boston.

In August, two former seminarians at St. John's posted on social media websites, including the Archdiocese's Facebook page, saying that they had "witnessed and experienced activities that are directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood."

Just days after the allegations appeared online, Cardinal O'Malley appointed a committee to review the culture of St. John's Seminary with regard to personal standards required of candidates for the priesthood.

The cardinal said that, in the weeks following the committee's appointment, he "consulted with many men and women who care deeply about the Church and our seminaries. The consultations have included recognition that the Archdiocese is the sponsor for three seminaries: St. John Seminary in Brighton, Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston and Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Chestnut Hill."

"While the initial review was specific to St John's, I have concluded that to meet the generally expected levels of transparency and accountability, it is best to expand the review to include all three seminaries," Cardinal O'Malley said.

While expressing confidence in the original committee, the cardinal said, "with the determination to expand the review to all archdiocesan seminaries it would not be reasonable to ask them to take on a project of that scope."

He also acknowledged that all the members of the original committee have connections to St. John's Seminary, and in light of "challenges of confidence in Church leadership and institutions," the cardinal said he decided to engage the law firm of Yurko, Salvesen and Remz to conduct the review, which will be led by former U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern with assistance from Doug Salvesen.

The firm, he said, has "significant experience with the process of review that we seek and does not have an existing relationship with any of the seminaries or the Archdiocese of Boston."

The cardinal said the firm will determine the timetable for the review.

He said those with information relevant to the seminary review are encouraged to contact Yurko, Salvesen and Remz at or (617) 723-6900. He added that information already communicated to the original committee will be shared with those now conducting the review.

"Once the review work is completed I am committed to releasing an independent report that addresses any issues arising from the review and identify steps that we will take to remediate any identified problems," Cardinal O'Malley said.