Clearly, the ongoing flood of scandals involving seminarians and priests calls into question the type of formation taking place (or not taking place) in contemporary seminaries. The above “A Day in the Life of a Seminarian” offers a glimpse into the training of priests in a “traditional” Catholic seminary. But note – prior to Vatican II, the word “traditional” was not used to describe – as now – a specific group of Catholics. ALL Catholics were taught to hold fast to both Tradition and Sacred Scripture, which bear equal weight within the Church.
We are reliably informed, as if it’s not obvious, that these days the sort of disciplined seminary life shown in the above video is not the norm in diocesan seminaries. They seem to be run more like a hostel for young single men, who may come and go as they please, eat out with friends (male and female) and generally live as an independent, single man.
Surely then, one key ingredient in the ending of the current scandal-ridden priesthood is a return to the sort of disciplined, spiritual, rigorously academic and thoroughly Catholic formation which the students in the above video are enjoying.
Critics will argue that such a restrictive regime won’t attract modern young men – what do you think?
Part of the Catholic Truth series, Thinking Through Catholic Truth – The Big Questions…Answered, the above video is the second of our Catholic Conversation videos. Editor answers questions on the current scandals…
How come Ben Shapiro, a young Jew, could see right away that Francis was not fit to hold the papal office, when most modern Catholics are still of the opinion that he’s the best thing in the Church since [the original] St Francis [of Assisi]? Sarcasm aside, can anyone answer that? Please and thank you…
Letter of Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth (pictured below)
to His Holiness Pope Francis
22nd August 2018
Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
His Holiness, Pope Francis Apostolic Palace Vatican City
Most Holy Father,
I am writing in the light of the terrible scandals of the abuse of minors by clergy revealed by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. To these can be added the scandals in Chile, Australia, Ireland and now here in England too, in light of the Independent Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse. Clerical sex abuse seems to be a world-wide phenomenon in the Church. As a Catholic and a Bishop, these revelations fill me with deep sorrow and shame. I pray for the healing of the poor victims. I pray for the forgiveness of the perpetrators. I pray too for myself, and for all our clergy and people, that by our penance we will grow in holiness.
I wanted to make a constructive suggestion. Would it be possible to call an Extraordinary Synod on the Life and Ministry of Clergy? The Synod might begin with a ‘congress,’ attended by the bishops but formed of laity and others expert in the clergy abuse scandals and in the safeguarding of children and the vulnerable. The fruits of this could then be taken forward into a Synod of Bishops proper. I suggest the Synod be devoted to the identity of being a priest/bishop, to devising guidance on life-style and supports for celibacy, to proposing a rule of life for priests/bishops and to establishing appropriate forms of priestly/episcopal accountability and supervision. Canon Law could then be revised in the light of the outcomes and each Diocese be required to apply it bydeveloping its own Directory for Clergy.
As a Bishop, I seem to have few tools to facilitate the day to day management of clergy. For example, when I was a seminary formator, we spent several years devising a balanced system of annual assessments and scrutiny, based on Pastores Dabo Vobis, to help an individual student take responsibility for his formation. By contrast, once ordained, priests/bishops have few formal ongoing assessments or ministerial supervision. It ought to be possible to devise mechanisms to help bishops in their responsibilities towards clergy and to help clergy realise they are not ‘lone operatives’ but ministers accountable to the direction and leadership of the diocese – nihil sine episcopo.
Most Holy Father, please be assured of my prayers for you in your daunting ministry. I look forward to meeting you soon for the Ad Limina.
Bishop Egan’s initiative is to be warmly welcomed. At last a prelate showing the need for practical steps to end this scandal of clerical sexual abuse of young people. Will the Pope take up his suggestion though? And what sorts of “mechanism” and “rule of life” would YOU like to see adopted for priests? How might priests react to the introduction of measures of accountability and supervision, having become used to the kind of laxity we have seen in the seminaries (none left in Scotland, as a result) and in their priestly lifestyle. They seem to be a law unto themselves at the moment. How might they react to restrictions being imposed on them now? Is it too late? Or, as the saying goes, is it never too late?
“The pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church is not a pedophile scandal. The vast majority of victims are post-pubescent teens and young men. The real problem in the Church that everyone sees and few will say out loud: gay priests.” (Matt Walsh, Twitter)
I’m taking some heat on Twitter today because I said that the real problem in the Catholic Church isn’t pedophilia but gay priests. As the statistics clearly show, the vast majority of predators in the clergy were homosexual and the vast majority were not pedophiles. The same study that reported those figures did try to absolve gay priests by claiming that their homosexuality had nothing to do with anything. But this is an assumption — I think a plainly absurd and unprovable assumption — that is not born out by their own statistics.
And the problem goes beyond sex abuse of minors. As Rod Dreher has been reporting, and liberal publications agree, homosexuality runs rampant in the modern priesthood. Sexual activity between priests, and between priests and seminarians, is not uncommon. I think it is rather difficult to separate these facts from the fact that teen boys were so often sexually victimized. Is it just a coincidence that gay priests exist in such large numbers, protected by gay cabals within the Church, and at the same time there happen to be a bunch of priests molesting pubescent boys? Are these two realities entirely separate from one another?
Take the case of the scummy Cardinal McCarrick. He has been accused of preying upon young boys. But most of the stories that have come out about him revolve around his sexual exploits with seminarians. Grown men, in other words. Yet we are told that the fact of his homosexuality is irrelevant. How could it be? If he were not a homosexual, he would not have molested boys. Who could dispute this? I’m not claiming that all homosexuals molest boys. I am claiming that only homosexuals molest boys. A non-homosexual, by definition, is not attracted to males.
I will be told that sex abuse is about “power” not sex, but of course this is ridiculous. It is about both. If all you seek is power over someone, there are other ways to achieve that aim without sexually assaulting them. If you choose sex as your means, then it would follow that you are sexually attracted to your victim.
80% of the victims in the Church have been males. Is it difficult to see how thousands of boys may have been spared this experience if there had not been so many homosexuals in the priesthood? Or are we going to pretend that even a heterosexual may attempt to get his thrills by molesting a 15 year old boy? If so, I have no idea what the words heterosexual and homosexual mean anymore.
I have been accused of focusing on this issue because it implicates gays while ignoring abuse perpetrated by heterosexuals. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I have written extensively about the epidemic of (mostly heterosexual) abuse in the public school system. There is very little public interest in this problem, and I have not been able to generate much through my own efforts, but not for lack of trying. As I have observed, it is probably not a great idea to have women in their 20’s teaching teenaged boys, just as it is not ideal to have men in their 20’s teaching teenaged girls. We may not always have much of a choice, but the problems inherent in such an arrangement are apparent.
In a similar way, it is not a good idea to have homosexual men living together in rectories and seminaries, and working closely with teen boys. This is not a homophobic theory I am positing. It is an observation I am making based on 50 years worth of data. It is nothing but moral cowardice to refuse to face the facts. Source – The Daily Wire
Given the above facts, the criteria already set out by the Vatican document Careful Selection And Training Of Candidates For The States Of Perfection And Sacred Orders (S. C. Rel., 2 Feb., 1961) which contains the following warning, is worth noting: Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers.
This prohibition on ordaining homosexuals is repeated in 2005 here so, there can be no possible justification for seminaries to continue accepting and ordaining homosexual men,: “… the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture”. Source
Or, must we ignore the facts, and opt for political correctness to “move with the [ever-changing] – and ever-more sexually permissive – times”?
At school, we were taught to call priests “Father” because they are the father of our souls. They care for our spiritual well-being, and work for our salvation. Easy enough to understand. No problem. Answering the Protestant criticism that the Bible says “call no man on earth your father” was/is also easy – click here to read a very clear explanation of the correct interpretation of that biblical verse.
There are, however, priests who dislike the title, which is purely honorific – that is, it is simply a means of showing respect. It is meaningless in terms of the status, ministry, duties etc of the priest.
When I come across priests who dislike being called “Father” or who fall into the “Call me Joe” category, I simply avoid calling them anything.I cannot bring myself to address them by their Christian names. A deep respect for, and love of, the priesthood is instilled in Catholics and few among us wish to show disrespect for the priesthood, even if we are less than impressed with the aforementioned “Fr Joe” and his ilk.
Lately, however, I’ve been re-considering this – more in terms of writing than speaking. Take Cardinal Marx, for example. Please. Take him. Anywhere. The German cardinal, Reinhard Marx, who is about as Catholic as Sadiq Khan has as much right to a Catholic title denoting honour and respect as Theresa May, if you ask me, which I know you didn’t…
Anyway, what about it. Should Catholics show respect for an individual churchman (by applying honorific titles) simply because he is ordained, no matter how much he abuses his office and betrays Christ by his words and actions? Or, is it acceptable to say “Hi Joe” or to write about “Marx” – what do you think?