The horror stories are pouring in from priests who have been through The Psych Strike Gambit by their bishops or superiors. Here is one, with some detail, which I have permission to post and which I have anonymized. His is a fairly recent experience, under the new, not ancient, regime of St. Luke’s. It’s current.
My emphases and comments.
I am a solemnly professed religious (not a cleric) in what is regarded as a very orthodox community. As one of your comments mentioned, sometimes these things are not ideologically motivated, it’s just a way of dealing with someone who stepped out of line/ might need help. That was my case. [I’ve also mentioned that there, truly, some priests and religious who really do need help.] (Nonetheless, I saw and experienced many in the ideologically motivated position you spoke of.)
As I mentioned, I did an evaluation at St. Luke’s. Before I even got there, I was given the strong impression that my vocation depended completely on going. Once there, the impression of the power of that place over my future was overwhelming. You clearly know that you and your whole future in your vocation depends upon getting a good report from these people. I saw and heard that same fear in the others I met there. I was surprised by the number of younger men, especially those who were amenable to tradition, etc. Also, what you said about lack of communication and total lack of privacy is completely correct. You have to sign disclosures immediately upon arrival.
Specifically, one of the doctors evaluating me mentioned how strange is was that I was not sexually active during high school and had not experimented with homosexual acts. He said that such behavior was a normal part of development. Thus, on top of everything, I was deemed sexually immature, even though I had had no problems with chastity. As far as I could tell, the vast majority of people there were on a lot of meds. Thankfully, I avoided that.
Now, for the six months in St. Louis. Again, you know that you are totally in their power and that everything depends upon getting a good report. The St. Louis Consultation Center (now the St. Luke’s Consultation Center, it was recently acquired by St. Luke’s) is an outpatient program, which makes it much less intense and provides more individual freedom because there is no residential aspect to the program. What I saw and heard over the course of six-months: I was personally encouraged to masturbate (that was normal, and I know that others were likewise encouraged)/ I was told that if I went on a “leave of absence” I could explore dating and “see where that went”/ I saw other priests and religious in the program whose struggles surrounded homosexuality freely encouraged to fully identify as gay/ praying the Liturgy of Hours/ going to Mass daily, etc. was considered “rigid.” The sanctity of vows or one’s vocation was not taken seriously. Eg. Priests who were otherwise totally capable of being good priests (and had been for many years) were totally unchallenged in “discerning” out of the priesthood. Finally, one priest who became a good friend of mine was sent there for preaching against contraception.
Also, a note. At both of these places, your stay can be extended beyond six-months at the behest of your bishop/superior or the staff. [Sweet Mother of God, Queen of the Clergy, save these men!]
I think you get the drift. [NB] It’s too bad, because for those who need psychological/ emotional help, they do that part very well. There is a lot to gain for those who need it. It’s just not reinforced with the Church’s teaching, or free from the atmosphere of pressure and coercion. In that respect, it was all disheartening and confusing.
The main thing I would emphasize is that you are utterly at their mercy. Further, bishops/ superiors can use your time at these programs as justification to do whatever they want with you/ to you for the rest of your life. Whenever they want, the simple fact that you were there can come back to haunt you (often completely outside the bounds of Canon Law). As you said, they never forget who is paying the bills. Unfortunately, I would know about this, since, after going through all of that, I have been treated very unjustly (not just according to me) and now have to be represented by a canon lawyer.
Please pray for me. Know of my prayers for you and your very good work.
Story after story, friends.
Take away… and this is consistent with other things I have heard. They can do a good job with priests and religious who need real help. I’ve heard that they can do that well. However, they also can be the arm of the bishop.
It seems that they will do anything for money, good job, hit job, whatever.
Mary, Queen of the Clergy, intercede for us with Your Son the High Priest.
For a POSITIVE take… HERE