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James Martin, S.J.January 15, 2009

The USCCB has posted, apparently without fanfare, the Vatican’s final report from the Apostolic Visitation of seminaries and houses of formation for religious orders, from 2006.  The visitation received widespread interest, coming as it did after the sexual abuse crisis, and in response to Vatican concerns over the admission of gay men into seminaries and religious orders, and following the publication, in 2005, of the Vatican document barring men with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies from the priesthood.  The full text, in pdf form is here. 

A notable comment is this: "The Apostolic Visit was obliged to point out the difficulties, in the area of morality, that some seminaries have suffered in past decades.  Usually, but not exclusively, this meant homosexual behavior.  Nevertheless, in almost all the institutes where such problems existed, at least in the diocesan seminaries, the appointment of better superiors...has ensured that such difficulties have been overcome.  Of course, here and there some case or another of immorality--again, usually homosexual behavior--continues to show up.  However, in the main, the superiors now deal with these issues promptly and appropriately.  Nevertheless, there are some places--usually centers of formation for religious--where ambiguity vis-a-vis homosexuality persists."

James Martin, SJ

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13 years 8 months ago
It is no secret that the accurate characterization 'La Cosa Nostra Curia,' to quote Former Oklahoma Governor & Roman Catholic Frank Keating, have again self-inflicted deep wounds into an increasingly bombastic, if not overtly demonic, scorched-earth campaign to deny, divert, & deflect from where the REAL GUILT squarely is centered; in several hundred cardinal & bishops perpetrators, enablers, aid & abettors, racketeers, obstructors of justice, child endangerers, that remain unpunished, or removed, in office. There is a long history of across the Tiber claims, over centuries, to claim they are going to 'clean up the seminaries or monasteries.' The problem has NEVER been overt, or latent, homosexuality, in the seminaries, & Joseph Ratzinger & Bill William Levada KNOW IT, as do any intelligent, or thinking, clergy or laity, 1.1 billion strong, & paying 100% of the Church's bills. The overt & persistent curia criminality, costing the diversion of laity offetory monies, to the continued mutiple billions in settlements, slashed ministries, hiked insurance liability premiums, legal bills, court fees, pr spin firms, squandered properties schools & assets, etc., is well documented at: www.bishop-accountability.org/abusetracker. The Solution remains what St. Peter Damien correctly asserted; the laity must cease all donations. Edmund Burke reminds each of us: 'The only condition for the triumph of evil is for good men (or women) to do nothing.' St. Paul to the Ephesians, 5:11: also was correct 'Do not deal in fruitless deeds of darkness, but expose them.' The Curia's Motto Remains = ISAIAH 28:15! No Curia Accountability Or Removal? No Laity Monies! It Is THAT Simple! Fiat Lux & Veritas!
13 years 8 months ago
One hopes that this is not yet another attempt by the hierarchy to blame those in the priesthood with a homosexual orientation for their own failures in adequately handling the widespread problem of sexual abuse in the church whether one confines that problem to the sexual abuse of children specifically or whether one includes younger adults, male or female or other vulnerable persons. Even the use of such phrases as, 'difficulties in the area of morality,' appear to be purposefully misleading. Rape, sodomy, and molestation are acts peculiar to sexual predators who may be heterosexual or homosexual, celibate or not. The 'scandal' that individuals refer to happened because those members of the hierarchy who were in charge did not do what they should have done when they became aware of sexual abusive clergy. The crystal clarity of that fact is well represented in any number of civil or juridical investigations and grand jury reports. The facts show that the church's own Canon Law in this regard was not observed the way it should have. It is sad to have to say that reports from across the country indicate that various kinds of cover up continue to this day. Bishops still refuse to release records even after being so ordered by the courts and they still refuse to make known the names and locations of all known sexual predators in their dioceses. Recently, in Delaware there have been attempts to seal all proceedings of upcoming trails to keep the public in the dark as to what has happened. Lawyers representing the Church and religious orders are even attempting to seal previously unsealed records. This does not speak well to the accountability and transparency the institutional Catholic Church promised in 2002. - Sister Maureen Paul Turlish - Victims' Advocate - maureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com
13 years 8 months ago
I am trying to read the quote Rev. Martin highlights and to imagine what an historian--say, 200 years down the road--would make of it. Not as a statement about seminary life as the 21st century begins, but about the state of the church that issued this statement. About the kind of Christian community that would make such a statement, and would think it morally advisable to set in place procedures to assure that the lives of seminarians are scrutinized and commented on in just this way. This statement speaks volumes about not the seminaries and not the abuse crisis. It speaks volumes about the leaders of the church.
13 years 8 months ago
'I think we have all arrived at a very special place, spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically. Gentlemen, remember the deepest circle of Hell is reserved for muniteers, betrayers (like hundreds of documented curia) and their brethern ilk, and ye should act accordingly!' 'ME? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man can always be trusted to be dishonest. Honesty. It's the honest ones you have to watch out for, because you can never predict when they're going to do something incredibly...STUPID!' 'Ah HA! So, we have established my proposal as sound in principle! Now, we're just haggling over price.' 'Savvy?' Capt. Jack
13 years 8 months ago
Continuing Steinfel's important analysis: 'This minimal attention to intellectual capacity is noteworthy in view of the opinions of faculty teams from 20 Catholic seminaries who met yearly from 1995 to 2001… Because solid statistics are not available, the teams could only pool their opinions on how qualified current seminarians were intellectually... Only 10 percent of seminarians, it was estimated, were highly qualified for their educational work. Somewhat more than 50 percent were adequately qualified. Thirty-three percent to 40 percent had poor educational backgrounds, learning disabilities, lack of facility in English or unfamiliarity with U.S. culture (among the growing number of seminarians from overseas) or atrophied study skills (among some older seminarians). Those deficiencies, it was reported, created 'special challenges for faculty.' ... Even among the academically gifted, as well as among the academically deficient, the faculty teams reported seminarians who ''regardless of native abilities and educational experiences'' resist ''the learning enterprise'' because it threatens their ''preconceived ideas about theology.'' Shouldn't such impressions, which are more widely shared among Catholic seminary educators than anything having to do with homosexuality, loom large in a review of the seminaries? What if it were reported that only 10 percent of those studying for medical degrees were academically or intellectually ''highly qualified''? Or that 40 percent of those accepted for law school or for graduate engineering degrees labored under one or more learning difficulties such as to create ''special challenges for faculty''? Or that, regardless of whether they were well equipped for their studies, some significant percentage of students aspiring to positions in medicine, law, engineering, social work or the military displayed an ''unwillingness to engage in the learning enterprise'' they were undergoing?
13 years 8 months ago
Peter Steinfels raised important questions about the Visitation process in an article, 'Analysis: Crucial issues for Catholics.' Homosexuality should not be the only concern. 'There are no explicit questions about the seminarians' capacities for initiative, creativity or imaginative and consultative leadership, although some of these qualities are undoubtedly taken up in the various church documents found in the footnotes. There is no explicit question about concern for social justice, unless that could be assumed under a single reference to 'apostolic zeal.' By comparison, there are numerous questions specifically asking about recitation of the rosary, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Mary and the saints and many other 'exercises of piety.' A single question asks whether seminarians are being taught 'a proper understanding of the role of women in ecclesial life' and 'the proper models of clergy-lay cooperation.' The next question makes clear that what is 'proper' is to be found in statements by Pope John Paul II and his Vatican officials. Of the 96 questions, just these two address the intellectual potential of future priests: 'Do the seminarians show an aptitude for and dedication to intellectual work?' and 'Are the seminarians capable of dialoguing, on the intellectual level, with contemporary society?'

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