Released: Vatican’s report on 2005-06 Visitation of US Seminaries

The Vatican Seminary Report is out.

CNS has a story.  The whole report is here as a PDF from the USCCB.

The Vatican’s report says:

“[A]n Apostolic Visitation is a blunt instrument and by no means an infallible one.  It a seminary is visited on March 1-7, 2006, then the Visitation report will show the general state of the seminary only on those days [emphasis in the original].  It is a snapshot.  Indeed, we cannot claim that the Visitation will have unerathed all the problems that may be present.  What is more, we have repeatedly underscroed that the responsibility for your seminaries rests with you, the bishops and major superiors.

In what follows my emphases and comments.

Vatican report: Most U.S. seminaries are generally healthy

By Chaz Muth
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — An apostolic visitation team concluded that U.S. Catholic seminaries and houses of priestly formation are generally healthy, but recommended a stronger focus on moral theology, increased oversight of seminarians and greater involvement of diocesan bishops in the formation process.

“This visitation has demonstrated that, since the 1990s, a greater sense of stability now prevails in the U.S. seminaries,” the report said. “The appointment, over time, of rectors who are wise and faithful to the church has meant a gradual improvement, at least in the diocesan seminaries.”

The report, sparked by the sexual abuse crisis that hit the U.S. church, concluded that seminaries appeared to have made improvements in the area of seminarian morality, most notably with regard to homosexual behavior[Hmmm.... a connection, perhaps, between sodomy in general and pedophilia in particular?  Hmmm....]

“Of course, here and there some case or other of immorality — again, usually homosexual behavior — continues to show up,” the report said. “However, in the main, the superiors now deal with these issues promptly and appropriately.”

The report was dated Dec. 15 and signed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, head of the Congregation for Catholic Education, which deals with seminaries. It was published on the Web site of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to coincide with National Vocation Awareness Week, which began Jan. 12[Were you aware it was "Vocation Awareness Week"?  Most of us are pretty well connected.  So... Did you know that?  I didn't.]

The report said some seminaries need to examine how educators can ensure the good behavior of their students when they are off-campus as well as their access to emerging technology.  [What... are they going to shut them in again in the evenings or other times?  That is the way it was in the Roman seminary I was in, though not in the USA.] 

“Seminaries face extra challenges today, as compared to recent years,” the report said. “Among these is how to monitor the students’ use of the Internet.” It recommended that seminaries and religious houses of priestly formation use Internet-filtering programs and restrict Internet use to public rooms within the seminary[There is a point here.  However, does this prepare men for what they will be doing in the "big world"?  I don't know.  This is not 1908.  This is 2008.] 

Bishops sometimes delegate too much responsibility for the acceptance of diocesan candidates to their vocation directors and other subordinates, the report said.

“This is unfortunate, as it is the bishop who will ultimately have to call, or not call, the candidate to orders,” it said, recommending a more collaborative approach to the formation process.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, said in a letter to U.S. bishops that it was “gratifying to read in the report that our seminaries are generally in a healthy condition that strongly promotes the formation of men for the sacred ministry in this country.”

“The general conclusions of the visitation are positive,” Cardinal O’Malley added. “I am sure that all bishops and religious superiors will take seriously the observations and recommendations of the congregation that will further strengthen our seminaries and houses of formation.”

The plan to hold apostolic visitations to assess the quality of formation in seminaries arose in Rome at an April 2002 special meeting of the U.S. cardinals and U.S. bishops’ officials with top Vatican officials.

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, now head of the Baltimore Archdiocese, was chosen to coordinate the visitation team, which included 117 bishops and seminary personnel. Archbishop O’Brien was rector of the Pontifical North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome, from 1990 to 1994. For five years before that and two years after, he headed the New York archdiocesan seminary, St. Joseph’s in Yonkers, N.Y.

Working in teams of three for smaller programs or four for the larger ones, the panels visited more than 200 U.S. seminaries and formation houses in 2005 and 2006. The visitations paid special attention to areas such as the quality of the seminarians’ human and spiritual formation for living chastely and of their intellectual formation for faithfulness to church teachings, especially in the area of moral theology.

Cardinal O’Malley noted that although the report generally praised the academic standards of most institutions for both philosophy and theology it reported gaps in some programs, particularly in the areas of the theological study of Mary and the study of early Christian writers, [AHHHH!  FINALLY!  TE DEUM!  TE DEUM!  AT LAST!]  as well as some lack of commitment to “sentire cum ecclesia” (to think with the church) in the area of moral theology.

In 1990 the Congregation for Catholic Education issued a document that required all seminaries to have training in Patristic Theology (not just an anthololgy of some snipets from the Fathers or Patrology) as a separate rubric from Church history, etc.

There are a few things to absorb in the report.

The Vatican’s report says:

“A seminary without a proper concept of the priesthood is starting off entirely on the wrong foot.”

The late Msgr. Richard Schuler, once pastor of St. Agnes in St. Paul, used to question whether the faculty of one seminary could correctly answer three questions: 1) Who is Jesus Christ? 2) Who is the Church? 3) Who is the priest?

Once upon a time, most of the seminaries in the US were confused on this point.

I am happy to say that in my experience of seminaries I have visited on my own, the environments were very good and clear and the seminarians were happy.  As a matter of fact, I think many of the positive changes in seminaries over the last 15 years came from the seminarians themselves, as the demographics shifted.

The report says that

“in the great majority of diocesan seminaries, the doctrine on the priesthood is well taught.  The faculty and seminarians follow the teaching of the Magisterium on the subject….”  “However, there is “an incomplete grasp”.

Service is stressed, but less so the priestly character.  The function of a priest is strong, less so who the priest is in a deeper theological sense.  Not all seminaries distinguish well enough between ministerial priesthood and common priesthood of the baptized.  Sometimes there is too much of a mix of training of seminarians with those not in formation for ordination.  The report was somewhat tougher on formation programs for religious.

Regarding the governance of the seminaries, it was found that some faculty had not made a profession of faith required before teaching.  Also, some faculty members suggested to students their disapproval of articles of Magisterial teaching.

Criteria for admission were examined.  There were concerns about the lack of a propeduetic period foreseen by Pastores dabo vobis 62.

Concern was raised about “compression” of studies.

I have no idea what they are going to do about this, since the entire structure of classical, liberal education has been nearly completely destroyed everywhere.

Otherwise, “Seminary rectors, in conscience, must always keep the barriers to ordination high.”

Candidates themselves are praised, but it is reasonably and correctly observed that they are men of their times, with the concommitant difficulties.

“Not infrequently, they come from broken families, or from backgrounds with little faith experience or knowledge of Catholic doctrine.  They may be weighed down by their past, which also complicates the work of formation.”

As far as their formation is concerned, a couple comments jumped at me. 

“It seems that most seminarians are in the practice of confessing at least monthly.  It should be asked whether twice monthly would not be better….”

Also,

“It is profoundly regrettable that many seminaries do not include traditional acts of piety in their horarium. … Some institutes even have an atmosphere that discourages traditional acts of Catholic piety – which begs the question as to whether the faculty’s ideas of spirituality are consonant with Church teaching and tradition.”

Also, “internal forum needs to be better safeguarded”.  My experience from seminary in the USA was complete violation in this regard.  I hope this is over for good.

Regarding intellectual formation, I think it is important to remember that seminaries are not really “grad schools”, and some seem to pretend to be.  Students are different ages and from different backgounds, so a seminary can’t be confused with a grad school.  Still, there is a concern that there isn’t enough training in philosophy.

Then, back to something spoken of elsewhere in the report, which suggests to me that it was a real concern:

“Even in the best seminaries, there can be some theology teachers who show reservations about areas of magisterial teaching.  This is particularly true in the field of moral theology.  Other points of Church teaching, such as ordination being restricted to men alone, are also questioned.  Such a lack of sentire cum Ecclesia is often not overt, but the students receive the message clearly nevertheless.  In a few seminaries, and particularly in some some schools of theology run by religious, dissent is widespread.”

Their big concerns is, of course, moral theology.

It is alarming that there was no mention at all of Latin.  It is clear that if a student does have any Latin coming into major seminary (and how sadly indicative of disaster in our education is that?) it is probably too late to turn him into a Latin machine.  But something must be done.  At the very least, even if the benefits are not obvious, Canon Law requires it.

However, the report says that generally the programs are well-thought out and well taught.  Some are excellent.

In the matter of being placed in parishes…. well…

There was an interesting and strong paragraph about evaluations.  In my time, this was the nightmare scenario.  I am told by seminarians that things have improved, but there are still problems.  The report says,

 

“In a very few seminaries, suspicions were voiced that the evaluations are sometimes used to ‘punish’ seminarians.”

 

Also, the process is often opaque.

Go and read the General Conclusions.

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80 Responses to Released: Vatican’s report on 2005-06 Visitation of US Seminaries

  1. Rose in NE says:

    Father, there is a small mention of Latin in the actual report:

    “It is, unfortunately, rare for American seminarians to have a proper grounding in Latin, which, as well as being of use for the liturgy, is indispensable if students are to have the ability to consult primary theological sources.”

  2. J says:

    I just wanted to alert you that it is widespread that this is National Vocations Awareness Week. Our parishes have announced it and our Catholic newspaper had whole sections devoted to this. As a side note, does the report state what happens to those seminarians who are either gay or caught in immoral acts?

  3. RANCHER says:

    It seems the report has identified some important areas in which change is needed. Now the question I seem to ask far too frequently in matters of Church affairs…where are the teeth? What system has been set in place to insure that the needed changes are implemented within an identified time frame? What consequences have been established for those that fail to comply? All of the reports and studies in the world, given the “independant nature” of US Bishops, really have little impact unless there is some enforcibility based upon identified and accepted authority.

  4. Jeff Pinyan says:

    The Church documents dealing with priestly formation (from Vatican II and shortly thereafter) aren’t to blame, are they? I’ve looked at some of them and I don’t recall seeing calls for easing back on the Marian theology or the identify of the priesthood.

  5. I think we need more comtemplative nuns praying for those in seminaries.

    God bless those who have been bearing the heat of the day, working in the fields with their prayers and sacrifices during the years of total hell on earth.

    God bless them and keep them according to the perfect intercession of the Immaculate Conception.

  6. Jason says:

    Is there anything laypeople can do to help support seminaries/seminarians?

  7. Clare says:

    In view of the first- and second-hand reports I have heard, this is a sugar-coated report.

    Based on what I have been told, I think homosexuality is still a major problem in the seminaries, including the diocesan seminaries (with a few notable exceptions).

    And not just “homosexual behavior”. One can sin in thought, word and deed.

    The comments are so general as to be meaningless. About what proportion of seminarians are homosexual men? I thought there were going to be psychological studies to determine this.

    It is a major problem that the faithful do not feel comfortable confessing to priests who may be homosexual. Therefore they do not go to Confession. How can this be addressed?

  8. dcs says:

    Also, “internal forum needs to be better safeguarded”. My experience from seminary in the USA was complete violation in this regard.

    Is it possible that the frequency with which seminarians confess is related to how well-safeguarded the internal forum is?

  9. You know, if someone is really serious about studying, the summer intensive language insitute model works well – they really do put people through 2 years of college language (12 credits) in 10 weeks. There are a number of them around for Latin.

    Of course you have to be somewhat linguistically apt AND a hard worker.

    But if a seminary were serious, there are professors out there who would be delighted to teach such a beast for a competitive market price.

    Of course, most seminarians who do that kind of thing in America are doing Spanish.

  10. Flambeaux says:

    Michael,

    Many of the seminarians who are doing that with Spanish are doing so because their bishop requires Spanish for “pastoral” reasons. Latin is considered by many seminary faculty to be unnecessary or worse.

    And quite a few of the summer intensives, especially in Mexico, are chosen for several weeks of beer and parties where the credit will be given and no Spanish will be learned.

    This is to satisfy a requirement that the seminarians find silly and pointless.

  11. I’m not seeing the PDF… Am I missing it?

  12. r7blue1pink says:

    This may be a stupid question, but nevertheless I’ll ask it here since its related.

    I understand that each Diocese has a select few seminaries (if the dont have one of their own) of which they send these young men to.

    If a young man has another seminary in mind (ie Gregorian, etc..) does the Bishop give special permission for them to attend?

    How does that exactly work and how do you determine where to go for schooling and then seminary?

    I hope chat is open tonight, cuz this would be a great topic for some inquiring minds ;)

  13. During the visitation, some seminarians filled out questionnaires.

  14. Ray from MN says:

    Will there be a detailed appendix released on the individual seminaries? If not to the public, will one be given to the bishops?

    Without detailed information, this summary report is essentially worthless, just another report to go into the stacks in the USCCB library.

  15. Quaesumus says:

    Father, nothing about the feet-dragging on the part of seminaries to facilitate the implementation of Summorum Pontificum?

  16. Father Bartoloma says:

    Of course they’re better! The visitations were done at a time following, not only the explosion of the priest and bishop sex scandal, but also at a time that was the late JP2 years where much had been stabilized under his pontificate and the early B16 years where lots of people snapped into place with the reality of a Ratzinger papacy.

    I’m happy with much in this report of course but I can’t help but feel that the visitations; substantial visitations that is, should have been done years and years ago.

  17. Origen Adamantius says:

    The choice of seminary and the policies surrounding it vary from diocese to diocese. Generally, the Bishop only sends seminarians to diocese that he trusts. The concept of asking to go to another seminary than that of which the bishop approves is a touchy subject, some bishops are more amendable than others. Demands to go to a place other than where the Bishops has asked often reflect or are understood as the unwillingness of a candidate to be a man of service and obedience.

    One of the difficulties that all seminaries face is the number of subjects everyone wants added (without offering any subtractions). I.e. if Spanish is added to an already full curriculum, what gets cut? — usually courses that faculty think a seminarian can survive without (Latin) or ones that can be incorporated into other extant classes (Mariology).

  18. reader says:

    COINCIDENCE?

    Last night I just started reading the book “The Collar” by Jonathan Englert. I’m about 70 pages in so far.

    Englert has some very pregnant, short lines here and there. For example, he noted that men who entered seminary (at least the one he featured) who imagined that they would be wearing cassocks or praying with their fingers held together would learn otherwise.

    Englert also mentioned that while many of the seminaries understood social teachings and the way of the OF liturgy, they did not enter with any real understanding of Marian doctrines.

    Has anyone else read the book? If so, what are your thoughts, and how does it compare to this report?

    Also: does anyone have any other recommendations of recent books about contemporary seminary life?

  19. Clare says:

    Are we ignoring the elephant in the room?

    Is there not zero tolerance for any homosexuality in our seminaries?

    What does this mean:

    “Of course, here and there some case or other of immorality—again, usually homosexual behavior—continues to show up,” the report said. “However, in the main, the superiors now deal with these issues promptly and appropriately.”

    I hope the last sentence means that these people are being dismissed from the seminaries.

    It doesn’t appear as if this issue is being taken seriously, as the laity expect it to be taken.

  20. It seems to me that the report contains both good news and bad news for our seminarians.

    I feel that it is necessary for us to address the homosexuality problem in some constructive way. Barring gay men from the seminaries is one idea. Another solution would be to ask a question regarding sexual orientation in the materials that seminaries send out. I know that it’s a touchy subject with a lot of people thexsse days, but it is a suggestion.

    I agree with Fr. Z. that being shut in is a good idea. Also, access to the internet should be limited in some way. Perhaps, seminaries should have a policy that the internet is only to be used for x, y, and az purposes.if someone violates those policies, then they are warned and told not to do it again. If it keeps happening, it could be grounds for dismissal from the seminary. I suppose that it depends on the seminarians as muc has it depends on the rector and the other members of the seminary staff.

    I do believe that it is also extremely important for our seminarians to live a life that is regimented. An horarium that controls the day is one idea that is fairly common in monasteries. Why not apply it here and say that you will do x at hour y and recreation is at x o’clock. It seems to work for many people.

    I know this might not be constructive, but these are just some ideas.

    God bless,

    Brother Juniper

  21. Ignatiangroupie says:

    “I think we need more comtemplative nuns praying for those in seminaries.”

    Well, with luck, I may end up being one. :) First inquiries are out to several orders.

  22. Clare says:

    Am I missing something?

    Why is barring homosexual men from seminaries a touchy subject?

    What part of \”grave depravity\”, \”intrinsically disordered\”, \”contrary to natural law\” and \”[u]nder no circumstances can…be approved\” is not understood?

  23. TJB says:

    My question is, when is this group coming to Canada???? Our seminaries are much worse!

  24. Well, I’m pretty glad to see I wasn’t the only one feeling like a mushroom on the national vocations week thing and you’re much better connected than I.

    Bishops sometimes delegate too much responsibility for the acceptance of diocesan candidates to their vocation directors and other subordinates, the report said.

    And a number of vocations directors were a nuns who wanted to be a priests!

  25. Clare says:

    Re: Quaesumus\’ comment and mine on homosexual men in the seminaries.

    I would like to know Father Z\’s views.

  26. terra says:

    Surely the most alarming part of this report is that even the best seminaries still have dissenting teachers!

    Without orthodox instructors, we can’t expect issues like homosexuality to be addressed, let alone the other problems in the Church. The time has surely come for stronger an more widespread action on this front.

  27. Christa says:

    Father Z.

    Vocations week was announced lat Sunday in our parish. We are in teh archdiocese of Indianapolis.

    Also, since September, we have been sending a “vocations cross” home with families who agree to pray for vocations for a week.

  28. Ioannes Andreades says:

    When I was finishing high school and contemplating a vocation, it was painfully clear that the diocesan seminary was more interested in offering remedial courses to those with inadequate training than challenging courses to those capable of entering a top-tier college or university. I opted for a top university with a terrific classics program where I could continue to study Latin and Greek, and I never had any desire to pursue a vocation again. That was almost a different lifetime ago, but I wonder what my decision would be in today’s climate.

  29. Fr W says:

    I was hoping they would shut down CPE – sending men off to hospital programs run by protestants, lesbians, and every other thing you can think of. We have not fixed the seminaries until CPE is replaced by a Catholic formation program for ministering to the sick. This is my barometer.

  30. RBrown says:

    If a young man has another seminary in mind (ie Gregorian, etc..) does the Bishop give special permission for them to attend?
    Comment by r7blue1pink

    The Gregoriana and the Angelicum are not seminaries–they are universities with theology, philosophy, and canon law faculties.

    Seminarians in Rome live in their own national groups (North American College, English College, Czech College, etc.) or in religious houses.

  31. Steve K. says:

    ignatiangroupie, God bless you, we need more like you!

  32. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    I was in the seminary when the Apostolic Visitation took place. We had personal interviews with the Visitors. Many of the guys were frankly honest and all of us felt that we were heard. The report is pretty equal to my experience in seminary college and Theology. There were a mixed bag of students and some bad Formators. On the whole, though, there were great things happening, and the men in formation were orthodox and zealous. I hope this Apostolic Visitation will bear fruit for the Church in the US!

  33. TJM says:

    Hopefully these internet-filtering programs will allow the seminarians to visit this blog. It should be made mandatory reading for all of them!

  34. Hey Ignatiangroupie… Wonderful news!

    A contemplative vocation speaks of a real understanding of the Family of Faith that we have.

    There is always a flurry around the Cross, with people not being sure whether to feel sorry for Christ or to mock Him. What a joy to be living the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in cloistered life, hidden with Christ in God, when, instead of feeling sorry or mocking, we are immersed in the Charity that God is, and by prayer and sacrifice drawing souls to the rejoicing in God’s salvation among us.

    I’ll remember you down at the grotto here in Lourdes.

    The Church Militant is on the march!

  35. ckdexterhaven says:

    Keep your prayers up for those considering vocations. I’m the mom of a young teen who is discerning a vocation. It’s very hard to trust the Lord, when I know there’s some bad seminaries out there. But, trust I must! I don’t have a good idea of what the “good/bad” seminaries are, (other than what I read in A Few Good Men)- Ignatian groupie, that’s great news.

  36. Clare says:

    As I feared.

    The homosexual problem still is being downplayed and covered up. It is “accepted” that it’s OK to be homosexual and — shocking but true, I guess — OK to have homosexual seminarians and priests.

    I love Latin as much as the next person — I have studied Latin and am devoted to the EFM — but, let’s face it, Archbishop O’Brien was not sent to the seminaries to check out the Latin curricula.

    He was sent to determine the extent of homosexuality in the seminaries, in light of the report following the abuse-by-Catholic-priests crisis, in which it was found that about 85 percent of the abuse cases involved homosexual activity.

    He was sent — I thought — to read the riot act to the people in charge of the seminaries and to get them to clean up their acts.

    Yet after all these years — after all the suffering, all the wasted money, taken from the donations of faithful Catholics, to pay multi-million-dollar legal settlements, all the church closings as a result of this wasted money, and most of all, the heartbreaking and irreparable damage done to the young victims — we learn only, from what is quoted here, that “[t]he report, sparked by the sexual abuse crisis that hit the U.S. church, concluded that seminaries appeared to have made improvements in the area of seminarian morality, most notably with regard to homosexual behavior” and that “[o]f course, here and there some case or other of immorality—again, usually homosexual behavior—continues to show up…However, in the main, the superiors now deal with these issues promptly and appropriately.”

    And here, where the issue can be discussed, people are still covering up for their friends — maybe even for themselves.

    It appears nothing has changed.

    As a lay Catholic, I want to know exactly how many seminarians are homosexual men, and what steps are being taken to remove them from the seminaries as soon it can be done — immmediately. That is to say nothing of the need to immediately remove homosexual men from the priesthood as well.

    How can the Church function when her priests often are not worthy even to receive Communion, because they are not in a state of grace, let alone to carry out the Consecration? Isn’t this sacrilege?

    St. John Vianney, pray for us.

  37. Ignatiangroupie : Great news, here’s another traditional convent to consider:

    Sisters

    As to seminaries, IMHO I’d have to say the discipline of psychology undermines proper formation in moral theology. I’ve met many otherwise good priests priests dismiss grave sin
    based on psycholigical (or psychobabble) premises. For example : on confessing receiving communion unworthily “I can’t take a sacrament and turn it into a sin”. At a “catholic’ high school: telling the students that impure acts are not mortal sin unless they are habitual !!!
    Eliminate the Freud and Jung; step up the St. Thomas Aquinas and Latin !

  38. Clare says:

    Inilltempore,

    Nice try — but if homosexual men — whether faculty, seminarians, or priests — were barred from the priesthood and from teaching in Catholic institutions — they could psychologize all day and have little effect.

    It’s bad enough that my tax dollars are spent on this kind of rubbish in the public schools. I don’t want the money in my church envelope spent for it, and there is no IRS-type institution to force me to contribute.

    As for the sympathizers who are not homosexual men themselves, they are sinning by teaching error. A “good priest” does not teach that sin is not sin.

  39. Clare says:

    *Inillotempore,

  40. inillotempore says:

    Claire:

    1. How could my words above be construed as a seal of approval to homesexual priests ???

    2. God calls men to Holy Orders, if The Almighty wants a man to be a priest,I dare not question this call. We need to pray for all priests, and are supposed to “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. I almost gave up this blog because knowing about these errors are an occasion of sin (anger and pride) for me. I will not bury my head in the sand though, and the suggestion that I am doing this by asking for more Aquinas and Latin seems completely illogical.

    In corde jesu et Maria

  41. Riverside says:

    Reading thorugh the report I naturally applied it to my own seminary experience. I found that if I honestly looked at it Dunwoodie came out well, not excellent.

    As a New York priest, I found my major seminary experience to be good, not great. I think that this comes from my understanding that orthodoxy is the starting point not the end point. Orthodoxy, is the seed-ground for nourishing healthy vocations not simply the goal of formation.

    Our college seminary at the time was far superior in my estimation. We had a rector who evidently loved to study and teach, who encouraged us by word and example, and who “kept barriers high” to use the words of the report. The house became a home for almost 40 of us for three wonderful years.
    Most of us, around 18 of us are priests from this period, now look back and find that it was there that we received most of our formation.

    In Dunwoodie, we were well formed in the theology of the priesthood, morality, dogma, and the liturgy…although some home-study was required to supplement a (Pre-V-II bad…Post V-2 good…just trust us) mentality from a Sister who taught Liturgy!?! But after class, there were traditional practices like the rosary, Stations, Day of Recollection, Holy Hours everyday, and daily Mass. Even so there was a certain malaise in the house of cynicism (both students and faculty) which was somewhat crippling to a healthy spirit of positive priestly ministry. Most of us thought it a relief to be in a parish and out of the place.

    There were the occasional “problem” but it was usually dealt with quickly. No program will keep a place totally immune from problems but it is how you deal with it.

    One of guys used to say…well at least it’s orthodox. Point taken but shouldn’t it be. To me it is like saying…be grateful your car runs…it should. I think overall this supports the general thought of guys in my time. It was good but not great.

  42. Clare says:

    Inillotempore,

    I only meant that your position does not go far enough, IMHO — not at all implying it was a seal of approval.

    Riverside,

    That’s good to hear. Thank you.

  43. inillotempore says:

    It’s bad enough that my tax dollars are spent on this kind of rubbish in the public schools. I don’t want the money in my church envelope spent for it

    I couldn’t agree more, which is why we assist at Mass (and contribute financial support to)at an orthodox monastery. If we have to go to a diocesan church we put a nominal offering in the collection, and we do not support any questionable initiatives (e.g. “social justice” stuff).

    Lastly, were on the verge of enrolling our children in an orthodox Catholic school as the public school is a pagan propoganda machine (and our kids are only 5 and 7…I can’t imagine what’s taught in the older grades). Deo gratis.

  44. Clare says:

    Inillotempore,

    I think we can safely say that God that does not call homosexual men to the priesthood.

    It’s like Bill Clinton saying he prayed for guidance before he vetoed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. I doubt that the Lord told the President to veto that bill, whatever the President’s subjective belief.

  45. Clare says:

    Inillotempore,

    It’s great that you have the option of sending your children to such a school — I wish there were such schools in every town.

    How did you find it?

  46. CJM says:

    I think the idea of filtering websites and limiting internet access is a bit much.
    Frankly it sounds a little too Protestant/Puritan for my tastes, and reminds me of
    the sort of policies they have at Bob Jones University.

  47. inillotempore says:

    Claire:
    I am in Central MA. The school is part of the TLM community where I worship. There is another such school in Richmond, NH if this is closer for you.

    School</a.

  48. inillotempore says:

    *In corde Jesu et Maria

  49. Chironomo says:

    Sadly, when considering the idea of eliminating all homosexuals from the priesthood I am reminded of a quote from “Spartacus”:

    “If we removed everyone from the Legion who was an idiot, we wouldn’t have anyone left above the rank of centurion…”

    How many current priests would have to go, and how drastically would such a pogram affect the majority of Diocese’s in the U.S… how many Bishops would have to go… it is a vexing issue at best. [I think this is out of line. The great majority of priests are not homosexually inclined. Your comment suggests that the opposite is the case, and that most are deviant in some way. Clearly it is a sad fact there are some men in the priesthood and in chanceries who are so inclined. They are a minority and that minority is shrinking as the years take their toll. But I will not stand for a smear of the priesthood.]

  50. Frank H says:

    At the risk of sounding politically correct, I would say the issue shouldn’t be totally focused on the seminarian or priest’s sexual orientation, but his fidelity to his vow of chastity. Hetero men are certainly tempted, too.

  51. Fr J says:

    Homosexuals are called to be celibate – the condition, The Church teaches is not itself sinful. I suspect that if homosexual seminarians were true to the Church’s teaching and honest to their celibate calling, there would be little cause for concern or complaint and especially if they were sensible and controlled i.e. manly, acted and spoke properly in their general demeanor rather than be encouraged or allowed to be overtly “camp”.

    The majority of paedophile cases are in fact committed by heterosexual men or actual paedophiles (i.e. attracted to minors) – not homosexuals – even if the type of abuse is of a homosexual nature. The sin is bad enough without mis-attributing it to those who are, in fact, the least offenders.

    If proper consideration were given to evaluating the suitability of candidates for celibacy as well as priesthood, I suspect sexual abuse cases would be far less. Generally it is because these men are not genuinely happy being celibate that they abuse. That is the real issue for formation – celibacy is not something that just anybody can do and its about time vocation directors and prospective candidates considered that seriously during discernment.

  52. RBrown says:

    As to seminaries, IMHO I’d have to say the discipline of psychology undermines proper formation in moral theology.

    Disagree. The use of certain schools of psychology (cf Rogers) and pop psychology by liberals undermines proper formation in moral theology.

    I’ve met many otherwise good priests priests dismiss grave sin
    based on psycholigical (or psychobabble) premises.

    Now you’ve got it!

    For example : on confessing receiving communion unworthily “I can’t take a sacrament and turn it into a sin”. At a “catholic’ high school: telling the students that impure acts are not mortal sin unless they are habitual Eliminate the Freud and Jung; step up the St. Thomas Aquinas and Latin !
    Comment by inillotempore

    Most of those people have never really studied psychology, nor have those who have taught them. Instead, they have been exposed to Counseling courses or taught theology by liberals who are using psychobabble to justify attacking doctrine.

    Some years ago I had a clinical psychologist as the prof for Abnormal Psych (and Developmental), a Jew named Bernie Kleinmann who became a good friend. Anyway, we were talking once and I mentioned the name of a Jesuit (whom he knew) Psychologist. Bernie winced, shook he head, and said: “He’s not a psychologist–he’s a psychological counselor”.

  53. Clare says:

    Chironomo,

    If we have to have fewer priests as a result of barring homosexual men from the seminaries and the priesthood (including the episcopacy), God will take care of us.

    Frank H,

    It is true that heterosexual men have temptations. But unlike a heterosexual man, a homosexual man faces temptations to what is by nature “grave depravity”, “intrinsically disordered”, “contrary to natural law” and “[u]nder no circumstances [to]…be approved”.

    The temptation of the heterosexual man is to a thought, word or action that is sinful because it constitutes a violation of his vows and adultery or fornication.

    It is analogous to having a temptation to steal candy (or nutritious food, for that matter) vs. having a temptation to steal poison. Consuming, or thinking of consuming, the candy (or nutritious food) would be OK if it were not stolen, whereas it would never be OK to consume the poison.

    In addition, the very situation of living among other men constitutes a near occasion of sin. Therefore just by entering a seminary or other all-male communal living situation, a homosexual man would be failing to avoid the near occasion of sin — thereby in most cases committing a sin just by putting himself in that situation. The very structure that is designed to provide the heterosexual man with freedom from temptation has exactly the opposite effect in the cases of homosexual men. It would be like a heterosexual man living among women in a convent. Do you see how ridiculous that is?

    Contrary to what appears to be popular belief, there is no Constitutional or other right to be a priest. Saint John Vianney was almost excluded from the seminary because he had trouble with Latin.

    No, God does not call homosexual men to the priesthood. If we do what is right and exclude homosexual men from the seminaries and the priesthood, the Lord will provide proper workers for his vineyard.

  54. Matt says:

    Frank,

    the Vatican has said that removing priests should only be done for misconduct, but seminarians who have a disordered sexual orientation (or any disordered sexual proclivities) should be removed.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  55. inillotempore says:

    Instead, they have been exposed to Counseling courses or taught theology by liberals who are using psychobabble to justify attacking doctrine.

    RBrown : You’ve hit the nail on the head, this comment is spot-on. Those who wish to teach error need to be weeded out before they get posts teaching seminarians.

    The Holy Father has his finger on the pulse of priestly formation, may God grant him many more years !

  56. ckdexterhaven says:

    Clare, Inilotempore: Consider homeschooling. Homeschooling Catholics are one of the largest growing groups. There are SO many orthodox Catholic homeschool options. The only limit is your imagination. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard work, but I look at it as a vocation. Without homeschooling, I doubt if my son would be discerning a vocation. Yes, sacrifices have to be made, like becoming a one income family, but isn’t getting your kids into heaven worth it? Plus you are also training little ones to bring others to Christ.

  57. J says:

    Clare – it seems like you are on a rampage against homosexuals. The Church teaches that we are to treat them with love, respect, and dignity like all other people. It is the actions which are of concern – being immoral and wrong. I don’t believe that by being gay one is uncontrolled in his desires. I am sure there are many gay men who are living celibate lives now. For instance the ministry of Courage which does great work for those who have same-sex attractions. The men in seminaries who may be homosexual, if remaining celibate, could continue formation. Remember the Vatican’s statement that if one has “deep seated tendencies” it will become a problem and then dismissal is warranted.

  58. Clare says:

    ckdesterhaven,

    Thanks — I agree wholeheartedly — the homeschoolers we know are amazing — head-and-shoulders above their peers in every respect — social maturity, academics, devotion to the Faith.

  59. Clare says:

    J,

    First, I don\’t think making arguments in favor of excluding homosexual men from the seminaries and the priesthood qualifies as a \”rampage\”.

    Second, of course, homosexual people are of course deserving of human respect, as the Catechism teaches:

    \”2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God\’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord\’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.\”

    Based on my limited familiarity with Courage and its leadership and members, I have the greatest admiration for the organization and the people who belong to it. They are truly courageous.

    But however chaste a homosexual man may be, however courageous and holy, he is not called to the priesthood — for all the reasons stated above. There are many other ways to serve God.

    If a person identifies himself as homosexual, he by definition has a \”deep-seated tendency\” toward homosexuality. I believe that definition would exclude only someone who as a youngster or even a teenager had an isolated same-sex experience that did not form a part of his personality.

  60. DarkKnight says:

    Father,

    I’m in IT and my employer regularly monitors and terminates employees for inappropriate internet usage. This is real world. Now, what happens when they get to their first rectory is their pastor’s problem. Unfortunately, addiction to internet porn is generally developed in the teens, so it would be appropriate to catch, counsel or dismiss this in the seminary, IMVHO.

  61. therese b says:

    If someone wishes to enter a traditional seminary, can he not relocate – say for a year beforehand, maybe taking some temporary work and renting a cheap apartment – to a diocese with a good traditional seminary, and apply as a resident via that diocese? Is that frowned upon as “cheating” ?

  62. inillotempore says:

    ckdexterhaven :

    I am all for home-schooling, many families at our TLM community home-school, the children are well behaved, respectful and reverent. My wife is not confident in her abilities (she’d do fine). I am a teacher by profession and would welcome the challenge, however since I am the breadwinner, this would not work.

    My wife has known some home homeschooled children (protestant, I think)who were less than well behaved in that they were quick to point out that all children who are not home-schooled are “going to hell” or some such thing (I don’t remember exactly, but it has emblazoned a negative attitude towards homeschooling with my wife).

    Our goal is for my wife to get work near the orthodox Catholic school to defray the cost of sending them there. Please pray for the intention that we’re able to give our children a good Catholic education.

  63. Clare says:

    Re: Comment of DarkKnight:

    The thought of having to monitor the internet usage of a seminarian — and a priest in a rectory! — is appalling.

    A person formed so as to be suitable for ordination should be…different from this. I am thinking of the few youngsters in our parish who I think might have religious vocations. I believe that even as high school students, they have an idea of the dangers of the internet and know that sinful content must be avoided.

  64. Clare says:

    Re: Dark Knight

    Or are we just talking about time-wasting?

  65. Rob says:

    Homosexual behavior is disordered, period. Terminology, such as “homosexual men” or “sexual orientation” implies a state of being that is in born and acquired. Such a understanding remains to be proven; however, remains one of the most repeated errors of popular cultural understanding. I find it unfortunate the level of credence mainstream psychology continues to exert in ecclesiastical circles. The current popular understanding of homosexual behavior stems from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removal of the homosexual disorder from its Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II) in 1973. The circumstances behind this action were more political than scientific. Nevertheless, today’s Homosexual Lobby through sympathetic mainstream media outlets continues to pedal its primary (in born) theory to an uncritical and untrained public. The result is what is now acceptable in Massachusetts: Homosexual behavior is a Civil Right. Acceptance is the new tolerance.

    I suggest stepped up scrutiny of organizations as the APA as an unquestioned authority, for therapeutic professionals within our Church. Clearly, its definition of the Homosexuality is out of step with the Church, yet its error continues to be perpetuated unchecked to the detriment in our Seminarians and the Catholic Faithful.

    http://www.traditionalvalues.org/pdf_files/APAHomosexualUrbanLegend.pdf

  66. Rob says:

    CORRECTION: “in born and not acquired…”

  67. Clare says:

    Inillotempore,

    I have never known Catholic homeschoolers to tell other children that they are going to hell — except maybe their siblings.

    There are a lot of great curricula out there (e.g., Kolbe Academy). The kids could do the work during the day, under your wife\’s supervision, and you could check when you have time, if necessary. I don\’t know how many children you have.

    It sounds as if you have already talked with the Catholic home educators near you.

    I will be praying.

  68. inillotempore says:

    I suggest stepped up scrutiny of organizations as the APA as an unquestioned authority

    Here we go again… back to psychology !

    My impressions of this “soft” science is that it eliminates human responsibility and turns people to the psychotheripist rather than relying on cooperating with God’s grace.

    On judgement day I don’t think explaining to Our Lord, “I did this or that because I have disorder A, B or C, and it really isn’t my fault” is going to cut it.

    Or you could pull out the constant (and relatavist) argument that liberal catholics constantly use “God is God and he can do whatever he wants”. While this is a correct premise, it is not a correct life-guiding principle. I’d rather view God as the just judge and watch my Ps and Qs .

  69. Clare says:

    Rob,

    I agree.

    The usage “homosexual men” is to avoid using “homosexual” as a noun (“He is a homosexual.”)

    Inillotempore,

    Yes — we must not presume upon God’s mercy.

  70. Rob says:

    inillotempore:

    That is precisely my argument. A therapeutic understanding without moral formation is an approach that both relativizes and dismisses absolute Truth out of hand. It removes personal culpability from anti-social behavior. It dulls any sense of Sin and reduces it to “Self Centeredness”. In effect, it undermines the Church’s primary mission.

  71. RBrown says:

    My impressions of this “soft” science is that it eliminates human responsibility and turns people to the psychotheripist rather than relying on cooperating with God’s grace.

    I’m not really sure that one judges the effectiveness of any science by impressions.

    Did you ever hear of Fr Thomas Verner Moore? Psychologist and Psychiatrist (after graduated Medical School). He began as a Paulist, then became a Benedictine (one of the founders of St Anselm’s in DC), and finally a Carthusian.

    http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Verner-Moore-Psychiatrist-Educator/dp/0809139871/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1232134776&sr=1-1

    On judgement day I don’t think explaining to Our Lord, “I did this or that because I have disorder A, B or C, and it really isn’t my fault” is going to cut it.

    People who want to find an “out” of Catholic doctrine will find a way. For some, it’s the misuse of Psychology. For others, it might be human achievement.

    Or you could pull out the constant (and relatavist) argument that liberal catholics constantly use “God is God and he can do whatever he wants”. While this is a correct premise, it is not a correct life-guiding principle. I’d rather view God as the just judge and watch my Ps and Qs .
    Comment by inillotempore

    Love God and do what you will.

  72. RBrown:

    St. Augustine !

  73. RBrown says:

    That is precisely my argument. A therapeutic understanding without moral formation is an approach that both relativizes and dismisses absolute Truth out of hand. It removes personal culpability from anti-social behavior. It dulls any sense of Sin and reduces it to “Self Centeredness”. In effect, it undermines the Church’s primary mission.
    Comment by Rob

    I think that can be the result, but it is not necessarily the result. St Teresa of Avila speaks of Self-knowledge.

    To a great extent psychotherapy is intended to have people objectively look at themselves. The aforementioned Bernie Kleinmann once said in class: “You don’t know exhaustion until you’ve spent 50 minutes chases a neurotic around the room” “figuratively”.

  74. RBrown: Looks like an interesting read. Thanks ! I’ve been “treated” to other catholic psychologists (e.g. Priests that dress like laymen and crack dirty jokes at catholic school “in-service” days) and can say that from my (my limited) experience there are not many in this field (psychology)that practice the discipline according to the use of right reason and in accord with the teaching authority of the church.

  75. Rob says:

    RBrown:

    The role of Psychology may be an effective tool for individuals with some degree of moral formation (i.e. conscience). Unfortunately in a culture where such formation is minimal to non existent, Psychology justifies relative behavior, undermining formally accepted societal norms. I many circles today, even once universal precepts of Natural Law have become foreign.

    More often than not a therapeutic culture justifies most any behavior devoid of any moral judgement.

    Google: Triumph of the Therapeutic, by Philip Rieff

    http://blog.beliefnet.com/crunchycon/2006/12/triumph-of-therapeutic.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Rieff

  76. I thought this was a discussion of the visitation report. It’s obviously been hijacked.

    Back in the 90′s I attended the Washington Theological Union where I was exposed to blatent heresy by professors who made no bones about the fact that if any of us (students) reported them or exposed them for their heresy they would see to it we were never ordained by any bishop anywhere. For orthodox men it was a culture of fear and jumping through hoops. I just checked their web page. The same people that fostered this culture of heresy and fear are now in positions of even greater power and authority. For an institution that dubs itself “A Roman Catholic School for Ministry” there is little that is either Roman or Catholic about it…. and this after two Roman visitations.

    What is really and truly sad is that twelve years later I still feel inadequately prepared to function as a priest, especially in the confessional. I don’t know the particulars of the visitation, but I do know the WTU and places like it must be shut down….. not reformed, but shut down completely. The sad thing is the damage that has been done will continue until the priests and “ministers” that were malformed and maleducated at such institutions will be around until said people are either converted to the truth or are no longer functioning, much to the eternal frustration of those of us who struggled to be true to the Christ, His Church, and His priesthood.

    As a caveat (correct usage?) there were/are some very good orthodox men teaching at the WTU but they are in the background.

    Latin is neither required nor offered. Spanish is offered, however. One very weak course in Mariology from a feminist perspective is offered that basically views Mary as the “feminine expression of the godhead.”

  77. Hey Fr J Scott,

    That would be right.

    It’s now time for the bishops to get involved. Hopefully they are prepared in every sense.

    But, if circumstances are such that Judas will continue the betrayal, even though we do not give up trying to make things better, let us also chant while we are at Mass, just as Christ chanted on His way to Gethsemane.

  78. Clare says:

    My heart goes out to all the good and faithful priests who at a young age were on the front lines of this struggle.

    Abandoned by your own shepherds, you still struggled to be holy and to prepare yourselves to lead Christ’s flock.

    Thank you.

  79. joe says:

    Ignatiangroupie,

    If you have not already done so, you may wish to consider the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart. Very solid, and they have a veritable “black belt” in praying for priests and priestly vocations. (And they are very powerful indeed in this regard) They are strong, young, growing and absolutely faithful to the Magisterium in every regard.

    http://www.beautyofcarmel.org/

    They are also especially successful in praying for solid, orthodox, lower-case-”t” traditional men to priestly vocations as Jesuits!

    AMDG,