Strife behind the Scandal
Seminary Tensions: As Abuse Cases Multiply, Author Laments Liberal Influence
By Ted Slowik firstname.lastname@example.org
The Herald News
August 9, 2002
CHICAGO — Many men who want to uphold traditional Catholic values in the priesthood are being forced out of seminaries by church officials who advocate the ordination of women and other liberal agendas, an author told an audience of conservative Catholics.
Catholic Citizens of Illinois, a group that counts many parishioners from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet among its 1,000-plus membership, invited author Michael S. Rose to its annual meeting at the Chicago Athletic Club on Wednesday night.
During an hourlong talk that was taped by C-SPAN, Rose walked the audience of about 120 through the main points of his controversial new book, Goodbye, Good Men: How Liberals Brought Corruption Into the Catholic Church. In his book, Rose says many seminarians are being sexually harassed and driven from the priesthood because they are too orthodox.
Some seminary rectors and vocations directors promote "a system designed to frustrate genuine vocations that are perceived as threats to their agendas, including liberated sexuality and New Age values," Rose said.
Rose related how some laity who taught at seminaries openly defied church teachings, and how one psychologist hired to evaluate seminarians' fitness for ministry denounced Catholicism.
"Some seminary professors are actively undermining the teachings of the Catholic Church," he said.
The Vatican investigated complaints about U.S. seminaries a decade ago, but Rose called the findings "window dressing." Many of the nation's 60 major seminaries are good institutions, and some of the worst are improving, but problems persist, he said.
The church's response to problems in seminaries has been consistent with its handling of priests who sexually abused minors, he said.
"There are three main reasons for the problems: No. 1, denial. No. 2, denial, and No. 3, denial," he said.
A key indicator of whether a particular diocese is discouraging "good" men from pursuing the priesthood is the number of seminarians from that diocese, he said. Liberal dioceses often see few ordinations per year, while dioceses that support traditional values ordain greater numbers of priests.
There's no shortage of men who want to be priests, Rose said, but liberal dioceses refuse to accept orthodox candidates or harass them until they quit.
"There is no vocations crisis. The priest shortage is artificial and contrived," he said.
Rose's message went over well with the group, which describes its mission as working to restore Catholic values to public life and pledges fidelity to the pope. Catholic Citizens of Illinois is actively pro-life, and its membership includes many prominent people who live in Cook, DuPage and Will counties.
The group's leadership is dissatisfied with how U.S. bishops have responded in the wake of widespread reports of priests who sexually abused minors.
"Until bishops take the gravity of this situation seriously, nothing's going to change," said Karl Mauer of New Lenox, the group's vice president and treasurer. "There has to be pressure from the laity to get the bishops to change this. They're certainly not getting any pressure from Rome."
Mary Anne Hackett, the group's president, said bishops at their June meeting in Dallas ignored a major reason why so many clergy sexually abused minors.
"In Dallas, they didn't even discuss the problem of homosexuality in the church," she said. But she's hopeful that the Vatican will restore discipline to the U.S. church.
"I think when a lot of these problems are solved, the church will be stronger than it has been in the past," Hackett said.
Nationwide, the vast majority of priests removed from ministries this year because of sexual misconduct allegations were accused of inappropriate contact with adolescent males.
In April, when U.S. cardinals were summoned to Rome to consult with the pope about the crisis, Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. bishops conference, addressed reporters about the themes expressed in Rose's book.
"I'd like to acknowledge that one of the difficulties we face in seminary life and recruiting is made obvious when there is a homosexual atmosphere or dynamic that makes heterosexual men think twice before entering, thinking they may be harassed ... It is an ongoing struggle to be sure that the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men," Gregory said.
The Catholic church's stand on homosexuality boils down to, "Love the sinner, hate the sin." The Vatican addressed the issue of homosexual activity by priests more than 40 years ago, but critics contend U.S. church authorities have ignored the Vatican's directives. In 1961, the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for Religious adopted as canon law a provision that expressly prohibits homosexuals from entering the priesthood.
"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," states the decree titled, Careful Selection And Training Of Candidates For The States Of Perfection And Sacred Orders.
Rose said his book exposes problems the Vatican has known about for years, but has been unable to sufficiently correct.
"I don't think by hiding the truth, any good comes from that. The problems have been covered up," he said.
Ted Slowik can be reached at (815) 729-6053 or via e-mail at email@example.com
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