A few inflammatory points by way of introduction.
First, there are those who say that many of the problems in the Church today can be traced back to the influence of a kind of “jansenism” impressed during formation in seminaries way back in the day. The main culprits were, as it is said, especially Sulpicians, who ran many large seminaries, and those whom they trained. Quite a few Irish clerics were, long ago, trained in extremely rigid French Sulpician seminaries, since they had no chances in Ireland. A dark rigidity was thus imported to these USA through these conduits. And since the English-speaking Irish made the claim to be “natives” (even though they, too, were immigrants), they shut the other ethnic groups out of the American hierarchy, coming to dominate chanceries and mother-houses and schools. When the leash was finally loosed, through the growing effects of modernism and then Vatican II, the formerly rigid snapped and ricocheted into being liberal progressives… except that they remained rigid when it came to oppressing anyone that didn’t agree with their progressivism. The worst of the worst of what people call clericalist: liberals.
Next, I am sure that you have noticed how smug and humorless liberals are. That’s because they perceive themselves as morally superior to us mere mortals.
Thirdly, it is sometimes hard to remember – it is for me – when reading liberal crowing about their latest Pyrrhic victory, that younger committed Catholics, certainly seminarians, younger priests and goodly number of bishops, don’t give a tinker’s dam about anything the Fishwrap (aka National Sodomitic Reporter) says. They don’t share the narrow vision of a still widespread – but rapidly weakening – discontinuity and rupture. Young people have nothing invested in that agenda. The few that do are exceptions to the rule. The seminarians I know, if they see the Fishwrap at all, just shake their heads, marveling. Perhaps they smile a little. The indifference this new generation of priests has concerning the liberal catholic agenda will inevitably have a huge knock-on effect in the parishes they will lead and the classrooms they will teach in. That terrifies the aging catholic Left.
Lastly, self-absorbed Promethean Neopelagian aging-hippie liberals still interpret everything within the Church through the lens they formed during the anti-authoritarian civil-rights and anti-war protest movements. When we try to uphold hierarchy and authority or rubrics or the older form of Mass or obedience to the Magisterium or decorum in liturgy and sacred music (or in the clerical life) an involuntary subconscious switch clicks in their heads. They take your faithful Catholic position of continuity to be an attack themselves and on Vatican II, on … niceness… on bunnies … on the poor… on the Democrat Party…. Vatican II cannot, in their minds, be separated from the protest movements they have idolized until they are actually paradigmatic, iconic, even mythic. The myth is now itself dying, and they don’t like it one little bit. (It it interesting to see how new protest movements are springing up, fueled and paid for by older liberal ideologues among young people who have been reduced to slavery and vacuity by liberal educational institutions.)
Now, to it.
I saw at the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter – insert head shake and wry smile here) an interview with out-going Sulpician Fr. Phillip J. Brown, now the former rector of Theological College, the national diocesan seminary of the Catholic University of America in Washington DC: “Francis effect growing among seminarians, says Theological College rector”.
The subject of change in the attitudes of seminarians is “a delicate situation for me as a seminary rector,” acknowledged Brown, who will be moving on to a similar position at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore later this year. [Another Sulpician place.]
He’s seeing a shift in attitudes among seminarians particularly in the areas of:
View of church tradition. […]
There’s less focus on the sacerdotal nature of priesthood […]
There is less of an emphasis on signs and symbols indicating traditionalism. They can seem like small things: the wearing of cassocks, Communion only on the tongue and not in the hand, to name two. But in recent years these symbols became what Brown described “as markers of orthodoxy” with an indication that those who didn’t follow such practices were suspect.
Seminarians are more inclined to move from what Brown called a Calvinistic, rule-based view of moral theology, to a more nuanced understanding of the role of church teaching in people’s lives. They are less likely to view psychological counseling with suspicion. The Francis message on the environment is also catching on, he said.
Okay… I’ll bet the seminarians there really appreciated that parting shot.
Look. I’ve not been a seminarian for a long time, but I am still suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder of those times. I still remember that the aging-liberals were once relevant, and, as a result, they can still get under my skin. Younger, committed Catholics don’t have those memories.
They are now going to taste something of the bitter cup we were forced to quaff.
That said, I have contact with seminarians all over these USA and abroad. I have a different sense of The Francis Effect™ among seminarians.
However, if you want a more direct and pointed response to the assertions above, I saw on Facebook (yes… I know) a direct and pointed response by a priest who was at that seminary during that rector’s tenure. HERE My emphases:
This article, written from an interview given by the out-going Rector of my former seminary, is very hurtful. The men who were formed in and ordained from Theological College over the past 10 years are some of the best and most pastoral men and priests that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Inventing a false dichotomy between a love for the Church’s traditions and a love for the people of God is a manipulative, ideological tool used to push forth one’s personal agenda.
I have known Father Brown for many years, and have a great deal of respect and admiration for him personally, but this public interview he gave with an openly dissenting “Catholic” publication warrants an alumnus response.
As one of the many cassock-wearing, Communion-on-the-tongue-receiving, Latin-loving, Extraordinary-Form-Mass-saying young priests that have passed through the halls of Theological College, allow me to say plainly to anyone who would agree with the tone and sentiment of this article that you have deliberately and painfully pigeon-holed men who love the Church and cast us to be pompous little monsters simply because we have a different theological/liturgical outlook than you. You condescend towards us as if we were not thinking, opining, and sincere men. You gossip about us, ensuring that we are “put in our places” and “taught a thing or two” by your confreres. You confuse our strong convictions with arrogance and accuse us of being staunch when we are trying more than anything else to be faithful, helpful, and loving.
But let’s be quite honest…you don’t really know us because you never took the time to get to know us. You saw us when we were in the seminary chapel or over breakfast…but that’s about it. Have you seen us at 2:00 AM in the hospital? Have you seen us working late into the night on a funeral homily? Have you seen us giving up our one day off a week to visit with a lonely elderly parishioner? Have you seen us on our knees at night before the tabernacle weeping because we just buried a child earlier that day? Have you seen us celebrate four Masses on a weekend, hear hours of confessions, and still show up to Sunday evening Youth Ministry? Have you seen us wear the same pair of socks two days in a row because we simply ran out of time to do laundry? Have you seen us muster a smile even when we’re exhausted, or miss Christmas with our families because we’re assigned 300 miles away, or forget to eat dinner because there’s another meeting to go to? The answer is no. What you see are the cassocks and birettas and fiddleback chasubles and accuse us of being “out of touch.” Well the reality is, you are guilty of the very thing you accuse us of. You ignore our humanity, our struggle, our sincerity, and you fixate on external things to make your judgments.
As difficult as it is at times, I love being a priest with my whole heart. Not because it offers me an exalted status or any privileges, but because it offers me, and the people I serve, the means by which to attain salvation. I love the people I serve to death, and I would do anything within my means to help them. If you look at my cassock and presume otherwise, I can only feel sorry for you.
Thus, this young priest’s reaction to that interview. I suspect that the seminarians remaining at Theological College have much the same view.
There is great division now, and it is growing, especially along generational lines.
I have only anecdotal evidence so far, but we all know that the plural of anecdote is “data”. My understanding is that numbers of applicants for seminary are down. Also, seminarians who have been in for a few years, who thus began to discern their possible vocation in the time of Pope Benedict, are respectful about what Pope Francis is doing and saying, but they are not as ensorcelled as some liberals might hope.
I am pretty tired of this B as in B, S as in S. I have been tired of it for decades. Yes, the Biological Solution is working on these aging hippies, but… sheesh!
Every young priest who has toyed with the idea of wearing a cassock, but has been intimidated by the nattering nabobs of negativism (or blustering Boomers of bellicosity?), should resolve to wear his cassock in public one day a week – or every day! Or maybe band together. Steal a liberal hippy Boomer technique and stage a sit-in, a “cassock-in”, somewhere really public and visible, like outside the office of some seminary rector.
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