QUAERITUR: A seminarian soft on abortion. What to do?

VOTE FOR WDTPRSFrom a reader:

I know a pro-choice seminarian, (he told me himself he believed that abortion was ok in certain circumstances-such as the health of the mother and very large families). do I need to tell the bishop?  Can I assume the bishop knows? The seminarian will be coming up for Ordination to the Diaconate soon.

What a hard situation.

If you are absolutely sure that this is what the fellow believes now, and he still believes this when his ordination comes around, then you would be within your rights to express your concern to the rector of the seminary and the bishop.

You might need to confirm that this fellow actually thinks that.  You may need another conversation, perhaps even with someone else present.

At an ordination, someone must stand up and attest that the man to be ordained is suitable and his formation has been adequate.  If a man believes that abortion can be justified, and he is willing to tell other people about his views and not keep them entirely private, he is not suitable to be ordained.  He would commit serious scandal to share those views after ordination.

In the Rite of Ordination the person attesting that the ordinandus is worthy has to say that he has inquired among the people of God.

If you were to communicate your concerns with the bishop or rector, I would first seek a face to face meeting and then be able to relate exactlyexactly … what the man said he says he thinks.  No embellishments.  No errors.  No guessing.   To say something not right or inaccurate or even false, would be very bad.

What you are dealing with also concerns the good reputation of a person.  Great care is needed in matters where someone’s reputation is involved.

If you communicate this to the bishop, and the bishop goes forward and ordains the man, you will have done your part according to your conscience.  It may be that the bishop and the man came to an understanding that satisfied the bishop.

If the man is indeed pro-abortion, the bishop knows this and ordains him anyway, and if the man then commits public scandal on this point, then the bishop will one day have the chance to find out what Jesus and the Apostles thought of his decision.

That said, I would tread very carefully in this case and carefully discern if you are right about what you heard.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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