Josephinum hoping to add stricter screening process of applicants

By Ted Hart
March 22, 2016

[with video]

WORTHINGTON, OH (WCMH)– Leaders at the Pontifical College Josephinum say they hope to have new admissions screening procedures in place in time for the 2016-2017 school year. The proposed changes come two months after a former Josephenium seminarian was arrested on federal charges that he was attempting to travel to Mexico to rape young girls.

At a morning news conference, Father John Allen, Vice President for Advancement at the Josephinum said the admissions policy changes, “will enable the Josephinum to add an important level of professional expertise and competence to the selection process and to the admission of future seminarians and ultimately with future priests.”

The proposals include:

-an additional independent background check to review references, records and social media activities of applicants

-the creation of a national database of applications to dioceses and seminaries

-adding a personal interview of all applicants by a member of the Josephinum admissions office and the seminary’s director of psychological services.

Allen said, “We’re taking the Josephinum admissions process to a higher level.”

But a spokeswoman for SNAP – Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests – was unimpressed by the proposed changes. Judy Jones, associate Midwest director for SNAP issued the following statement:

“Columbus Catholic officials seem to be blaming seminarian Joel Wright for fooling them. This seems like a convenience dodge.

Catholic officials want to have their cake and eat it too. They claim they did everything right with Joel Wright. (“Due diligence was carried out,” they claim.) But they also claim they’re proposing possible changes in the future. It’s hard to square these two contradictory claims.

It’s also worth noting that school officials can’t even bring themselves to mentioned Joel Wright by name in their news release. That’s not encouraging.

All the policies, protocols, procedures and pledges aside, the simple fact is that for several reasons, the pressure on Catholic officials to attract and keep seminarians – even sexually troubled ones – is greater than ever and the “costs” or penalties of making risky choices are less than ever. So we strongly believe that at Catholic seminaries across the world, sexually troubled men like Wright will continue to be accepted, child sex crimes will continue to happen and cover ups of those crimes will happen too.

But what we know for sure is that Catholic officials – in Vermont, Ohio and Kentucky – should be doing aggressive outreach to find and help others who

–might be able to help prosecutors convict Wright and

–might have been hurt by Wright and are suffering in shame, silence and self blame.”

Allen said the Josephinum board is expected to consider the proposals at its April 19 meeting.


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