The seminary visitation: Everything’s just fine

The seminary visitation: Everything’s just fine

Diogenes examines the National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen’s report on the seminary visitations and the prospects are not encouraging. In fact, what’s very discouraging is the comments coming back from those on the visitation teams.

The “new and serious” apostolic visitation of US seminaries called for in 2002 after an emergency meeting of US cardinals and leaders of the bishops conference in Rome with Vatican officials was for a specific purpose. They didn’t just decide that it would be nice to jaunt around the US seeing how everyone’s doing. The Scandal showed that there was a real and serious problem in priestly formation over the past 40 years, a problem that was evidently not picked up during the last apostolic visitation back in the 1980s, when only token changes were made.

So why are the current visitation teams making it sound like everything is hunky-dory?

[M]ost bishops who have led visitation teams say they see the process as a matter of “fine-tuning,” rather than remedying systemic problems. ... “By and large, rectors, staff, and professors are doing a very, very good job,” [Austin Bishop Gregoery] Aymond told NCR Dec. 22. “Sometimes they’ve been unfairly criticized, as if every problem a priest later has is the fault of the seminary.

If all we need is fine-tuning then why did the Vatican feel the need to publish a document saying that homosexuals are not to be admitted to seminary? Again, if fine-tuning was needed, why the big visitation in the first place. But Bishop Aymond’s comments were the least far-out.

Tinkering and fine-tuning; reading lists

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli