English College in Rome: Supporting “Gay Culture” Is No Barrier to Ordination…

Our England Correspondent writes…

In our January 2019 (Issue #109) edition [available to download from our archives on the Newsletter page of our website),  and on this blog here, we published an email exchange between the Editor and an un-named seminarian at the Venerable English College in Rome (VEC) on the subject of the seminarian’s public support for “the gay culture” on social media outlets.  

Editor wrote to him expressing concern for the screen shots [and other material] she’d received from a concerned English reader, showing him, for example, ‘liking’ a “gay” club in Bristol on Facebook. The club’s blasphemous name is ‘OMG’ – a common abbreviation for Oh My God – with the ‘g’ showing horns and a halo above…demonic. The seminarian also advertised the fact that he was on a [gay] “Pride” committee, while on Twitter he appears to support “gay marriage”.

Initially, he replied to say that he now accepted the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. At around the same time, a veritable tsunami of homosexual scandals involving homosexually active seminarians, priests and bishops hit the headlines [click here] and even Pope Francis was quoted as saying, behind closed doors to the Italian Bishops gathered for their plenary assembly, that it was necessary to “put the brakes” on “welcoming too many homosexuals” into seminaries. 

Editor, therefore, wrote to the English seminarian again, quoting the Vatican Instruction ‘Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders’. She highlighted the following key part of that document: The Church 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. [Emphasis added]

Editor now asked the seminarian to reconsider his position, promising to maintain anonymity at that time – hoping that he would realise that proceeding to ordination was the wrong thing to do. When he failed to reply to that request, she wrote to the authorities in the VEC: Monsignor Philip Whitmore, Archdiocese of Westminster, seminary rector; Fr John Flynn, Diocese of Salford, vice-rector; Fr John Metcalfe, Diocese of Hallam, Pastoral Director; Fr James McAuley, Diocese of Portsmouth, Academic Tutor; Fr Anthony Doe, Archdiocese of Westminster, Spiritual Director. This, in order to make sure that they were aware of the line of communication with the seminarian, and to remind them of the Church’s criteria for the discernment of vocations with regards to varying levels of homosexual tendency. No replies were received from any of those concerned. The seminarian – Alexander Balzanella – was later ordained deacon, and is now proceeding towards ordination to the priesthood…

From the website of the Archdiocese of Westminster – 30/08/2019

Bishop Alan Hopes of East Anglia ordained Alexander Balzanella to the diaconate on Sunday 14th July at the Church of Our Lady of Snows Chapel in Villa Palazolla, just outside Rome. Alex is a Westminster seminarian studying at the Venerable English College (VEC) in Rome…(Rome ordination for Deacon Alex, published on the website of the Diocese of Westminster).  

Of course, homosexual priests, or those who support “the gay culture” are no longer making headline news anywhere, apparently welcomed as such by hierarchy and laity alike. However, we believe that, in the interests of transparency, for the sake of those few remaining Catholics who seek to avoid such influences over themselves and their children, we are now duty-bound to reveal the identity of the seminarian-now-deacon whom we reported back in 2019 for his public support of the “gay culture”. For senior churchmen, keeping the rules these days seems restricted to keeping the “Covid-19” rules – not the Church’s rules on admission to seminaries and certainly not the rules put in place by God – the Ten Commandments, the moral law.

Contrary, therefore, to what our enemies will claim, identifying this new deacon will not be to his detriment at all. If anything, we can look forward to writing a few lines of introduction to the new Bishop, if not Cardinal, Balzanella. Reflect…   Taken from Catholic Truth newsletter, July 2020, Issue No. 118, p.12

Comment from Editor…

As linked in the introduction above, we previously discussed this scandal in November, 2018 here

At that time, I asked bloggers to refrain from speculating as to the identity of the then seminarian, now deacon.  In this conversation, I would ask that the House rule prohibiting personal remarks be honoured, and that we all stick to the key issue which is the flouting, by bishops and senior seminary staff, of the Church’s directive on admission to seminaries: they are expected to  refuse admission to anyone who supports the so-called “gay culture. (Vatican). 

Alexander Balzanella supported the “gay culture” during his seminary training at the Venerable English College in Rome.  If his superiors did not know about this, which is unlikely, it was drawn to their attention through the Catholic Truth correspondence.  Yet, in defiance of the Church’s prohibition on admitting to seminary and to Holy Orders those known to support the “gay culture”, he was ordained to the diaconate in the Diocese of Westminster. 

Manifestly, the hierarchy in Westminster (and the senior seminary staff) do not think it matters whether they ordain deacons and priests who support the “gay culture” (“Pride” events, nightclubs, “gay marriage”, whatever). 

Given the above email exchanges in the Case of Alexander Balzanella Vs the Church’s Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies…  it seems clear that no lessons at all have been learned from previous scandals in seminaries, such as those documented in the book Goodbye, Good Men by Michael S. Rose, or following the defrocking of the American Cardinal [now Mr] McCarrick in the USA. 

Instead, the homosexualisation of the priesthood continues apace. But, does it really matter?  Is it wrong to highlight the issue?  Would you want to know if your priest/deacon had a history of supporting the “gay culture”? Last but by no means least, would you want to know if your bishop ignored the Church’s criteria for seminary admission and ordination?  

English College in Rome: Scene of Latest Seminary/Homosexual Scandal? 

From the Editor…

Some time ago, I was contacted by an English reader who was concerned about a seminarian from an Archdiocese in England who, on social media outlets, has shown support for the “gay culture”. I received evidence of this “support” for the “so-called gay culture” and – given that the Vatican prohibition on the acceptance into seminary and ordination of homosexuals includes not only those who are homosexually active or with deep-seated homosexual tendencies but also those who “support the so-called gay culture” – the material did ring an alarm bell.
However, I didn’t act on the information immediately, but waited a bit before contacting the Rector at the Venerable English College in Rome to ask for an email address for the seminarian in question. I decided that the first, and fair, thing to do was to give the seminarian the opportunity to reflect on the Church’s prohibition on ordaining homosexuals, and to inform him of the fact that, despite his involvement in the “gay culture” having been scrubbed from his internet history, the evidence is still held on file by concerned Catholics.

Promptly, the Rector, Monsignor Whitmore, replied to provide an email address and I contacted the young man on 26 July 2018 explaining that “…a reader in England sent me some Facebook screen shots of you, ‘liking’ ‘gay’ clubs and stating that you were on ‘Pride’ committees – stuff like that -which led me to believe that you – at least at that time – didn’t fully and unequivocally accept Catholic teaching on homosexuality as laid out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You appeared also, on Twitter, to support a pro-gay ‘marriage’ article in the Telegraph… Since you are on your way to ordination to the priesthood, it would be reassuring to know that the above is all in the past and that you now, fully and unequivocally, accept Church teaching on homosexuality.”

[Name] replied promptly, to assure me that he did now fully and unequivocally accept the Church’s teaching on this matter…” [emphasis added]. I decided that I was obliged to take him at his word, and reassured him on this point.

Then the veritable tsunami of homosexual scandals broke, with shocking insights into the normalising of homo-sexual life in Catholic seminaries, published across the internet. Bishops, not merely tolerating homosexual couplings  (bad enough as that would be) but actually approving such activity within seminaries.

After further consultation with our source in England, I wrote again to the seminarian, my email dated 20 October, 2018,  as follows, but this time, received no reply:

Dear [Name],

Further to our brief email exchange in July, when I was pleased to accept your assurance that you now accept the teaching of the Church on homosexuality, I hope you appreciate that, in the light of the tsunami of homosexual scandals involving priests and bishops which followed our correspondence, given the Church’s prohibition on the ordination of homosexual men or even those with “deep seated tendencies” or who “support the so-called gay culture”, I am unable to remain silent in the face of the evidence of your participation of the “gay” scene, and even support for same-sex marriage.

We are discussing, on our blog, the sacking of a sound priest from both Maynooth seminary in Ireland and St Mary’s Oscott in Birmingham, simply because he sought to apply the prohibition required by the Church. You can follow that conversation here

As you will see, if you read Father Marsden’s Open Letter to the UK Bishops, and contributions from our bloggers, on that thread, I must, on reflection, offer you another opportunity to re-consider your position.

My intention is not to upset you. I hope you understand that, and that I do, in conscience, believe that I was wrong to so readily dismiss the Church’s ruling on refusing homosexual candidates for seminary, in your case. That I was wrong to do so, has been driven home to me by the flood of revelations now in the public domain, and the shocking role of many bishops, themselves homosexually compromised, in the cover-up of homosexual abuse of vulnerable young people – including seminarians.

I look forward to your reply, in the hope that you have, in fact, realised yourself, in the light of the ongoing scandals, that the Church is wise to refuse ordination to those who are actively homosexual, have deep seated tendencies towards homosexuality and/or who support the so-called gay culture, and that you will, consequently, re-consider your own vocation. [Signed…] Ends.

When it became clear that the seminarian was going to sit it out, I felt I had no alternative but to contact the seminary Rector, Monsignor Philip Whitmore, Archdiocese of Westminster, copying into that email, the Vice Rector, Fr John Flynn, Diocese of Salford, Pastoral Director, Fr John Metcalfe, Diocese of Hallam, Academic Tutor, Fr James McAuley, Diocese of Portsmouth and Spiritual Director, Fr Anthony Doe, Archdiocese of Westminster. Thus, nobody at the seminary can claim ignorance of the fact that a seminarian with a public homosexual profile is to be ordained for an English archdiocese. My email – dated 24 October, 2018 – to the Rector, copies to the above-named senior staff, follows:

Dear Monsignor Whitmore,

Some months ago, I wrote to you to request an email address for [Name]. I repeat my gratitude for your speedy response to my request, and I apologise for the length of this email, which, I hope you will come to see, is lengthy only out of necessity. The following is the pertinent extract from my first email to [Name] which explains why I had decided to write to him:

“…a reader in England sent me some Facebook screen shots of you, ‘liking’ ‘gay’ clubs and stating that you were on ‘Pride’ committees – stuff like that -which led me to believe that you – at least at that time – didn’t fully and unequivocally accept Catholic teaching on homosexuality as laid out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You appeared also, on Twitter, to support a pro-gay ‘marriage’ article in the Telegraph… Since you are on your way to ordination to the priesthood, it would be reassuring to know that the above is all in the past and that you now, fully and unequivocally, accept Church teaching on homosexuality.”

[Name] replied promptly, to assure me that he did “now fully and unequivocally accept the Church’s teaching on this matter…”

Despite the Church’s prohibition on accepting homosexuals into seminary and ordaining homosexuals to the priesthood, I felt I could, in conscience, let the matter rest there.

However, in the light of the subsequent tsunami of scandals involving homosexual seminarians, priests and bishops, not least the persecution of priests such as Father David Marsden SCJ during his work as a seminary formator in not one, but two seminaries (Maynooth and Oscott), I now feel that I am conscience bound to inform you of my concerns about the prospect of [Name] going forward to ordination. Indeed, although I’m sure that you will be aware of the case of Father David Marsden SCJ, you can read about his situation and the attendant growing concern among the laity regarding the failure to apply the Church’s prohibition on accepting homosexuals into seminary, and, subsequently, ordaining them, on our blog here

My own conscience is now troubling me, not least because I am reminded of the detail of the Church’s concerns about homosexuality within the priesthood: “In the light of such teaching, this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that 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”.” [emphasis added – Source]

Further, to bring the issue right up to date, I have, only this morning, received the following news from a friend in England:

“At today’s press briefing, Veteran Vaticanist Sandro Magister also asked a question on the Church’s acceptance of homosexuals. Magister asked Cardinal Tagle:

“You have said that the synod has been insistent on the welcome and accompaniment and integration of homosexual young people. So I ask you: In the seminaries throughout the world, we know that the welcome of homosexual young men as candidates to the priesthood is very strong and also very generous, with the effect that Pope Francis has spoken about it in alarming words.”

Last May, Pope Francis spoke behind closed doors to Italian bishops gathered for their plenary assembly, telling them: “The seminaries are welcoming too many homosexuals” and “we need to put the brakes on it.” Ends.

I wrote again to [Name] on Saturday, but, to date, I have not received any reply.

[Ed: at this point I reproduced here, my latest email to the seminarian, dated 20th October – see above].

If, Monsignor, you have any doubts about my concerns, I will readily email you the screen shots from [Name’s] Facebook which show that he – at the very least – “supports the so-called gay culture.” 

Be assured, I take no pleasure in writing any of this but I feel duty bound to place the matter in your hands, leaving it with your conscience and the consciences of the staff copied into this email. [Signed, Editor, Catholic Truth] Ends.

Receiving no reply from the Rector, or any of the priests at the Venerable English College in Rome copied into my email, and since publicity is genuinely our last resort, I wrote one last time to the seminarian as follows:


Dear [Name],

When you failed to respond to my email dated 20 October, I decided that I ought to contact the Rector and other senior staff at your seminary. It occurs to me that I should have copied you into that email, so, with apologies for that oversight, better late than never, please find below, my email to them.

As a friend has just said, when even Pope Francis expresses the view that something has to be done about the rampant homosexuality in seminaries, it’s clear that there is a problem!   Quite!

Thus, I repeat my exhortation to you to reconsider your position; perhaps you would reply to this email by Thursday, November 1, Feast of All Saints, latest, to let me know if you agree.

Since I have not had any reply from your Rector (not even the courtesy of an acknowledgement), then, absent the above requested assurance from you, I will be duty bound to place the information in my possession, into the public domain. That does not mean that I will name you – I won’t do that, but with the available data, it should not be too difficult for informed English Catholics to work out your identity. Obviously, that is not desirable, so I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your position, if not as a result of my email(s) then as a result of reminding yourself of the Church’s prohibition on the ordination of those with homosexual tendencies, or even who “support the so-called gay culture”…

[My above email to Mgr. Whitmore et al appended here, in original email – Ed.]

Kind regards – God bless you.
[Signed]… Ends.

Conclusion…

So, what do we learn from the above correspondence? Do we learn that Oscott is not the only English seminary with a serious homosexual problem? Is the English College in Rome also implicated? Well, we certainly learn this:  that there is a seminarian in the English College in Rome who is going forward to ordination despite his documented support for the so-called “gay culture” – and we learn that each of his superiors, knowing this, apparently refuses to apply the Church’s prohibition on his ordination. 

The Church has good reason for refusing ordination to homosexuals. It’s not about “bigotry” or “discrimination” in the pejorative sense. Below, the pertinent section from the Vatican document Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders…

“From the time of the Second Vatican Council until today, various Documents of the Magisterium, and especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church, have confirmed the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. The Catechism distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies.

Regarding acts, it teaches that Sacred Scripture presents them as grave sins. The Tradition has constantly considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstance can they be approved.

Deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also objectively disordered and, for those same people, often constitute a trial. Such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. They are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter,

In the light of such teaching, this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that 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”

Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem – for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded. Nevertheless, such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.  Source   [Ed: emphases added].

Clearly, there is no excuse whatsoever for seminary Rectors to continue to accept and ordain young men with homosexual tendencies or who are supportive of the culture that nourishes this tendency – which is, in fact, a vice.

We have asked the seminarian in question to re-consider his position – that is, to withdraw from seminary and refuse ordination in an act of humble submission to the teaching and discipline of the Church. Failing this, his superiors should refuse him ordination.

Given the flood of recent scandals, and the ongoing scandals at the Irish and English seminaries, Maynooth and Oscott respectively, the senior seminary staff – together with their bishops/archbishops – bear a very heavy responsibility before God for their defiance in refusing to apply the crucial criteria for the discernment of priestly vocations. The crisis in the Church today is essentially a crisis in the priesthood and that crisis is hallmarked by the widespread infestation of homosexual activity and mentality, into the once glorious Catholic priesthood: “This Congregation reaffirms the need for Bishops, major superiors and all relevant authorities to carry out an attentive discernment concerning the suitability of candidates for holy orders, from the time of admission to the seminary until ordination. This discernment must be done in light of a conception of the ministerial priesthood that is in accordance with the teaching of the Church. Let Bishops, episcopal conferences and major superiors look to see that the constant norms of this Instruction be faithfully observed for the good of the candidates themselves, and to guarantee that the Church always has suitable priests who are true shepherds according to the Heart of Christ.”

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, on 31 August 2005, approved this present Instruction and ordered its publication.

Rome, 4 November 2005, Memorial of St Charles Borromeo, Patron of Seminaries.

Comment: 

Presumably, our approaches to both the seminarian and senior seminary staff will continue to be ignored.  Hopefully, bloggers and readers will feel rightly outraged at this blatant disregard for the Church’s prohibition on accepting into seminary and ordaining homosexuals, including men who – like the seminarian referred to above – support the “gay” culture.  Given the flood of scandals which are continuing to shock the world, then, hopefully you, too, will contact the senior seminary staff at the Venerable English College in Rome – click here for email addresses. Let them know that you have read about this scandal on this blog and they’ll perhaps realise that rudely ignoring the genuine concerns of the Catholic people, isn’t going to work. 

Is there anything else, then, that we can do,  beyond the above calling to account of those with responsibility to deal with this situation, and the obvious prayer and penance?  Let’s hear it!   But first, an important note…

Important Note…

Please do not speculate, in the comments, as to the identity of the seminarian reported in this article.  or name any seminarians at the English College in Rome.   If you have information pertinent to this situation, please contact the Rector directly, and if you think Catholic Truth can help in any way, email editor@catholictruthscotland.com   Indeed, it would be useful for us to be able to include in any future reports the fact that the identity of this seminarian has been reported to the Rector by others, independently of our approaches.  However, here, on the blog, no names, no pack drill… Anyone flouting this instruction will be blocked from participating in the discussion.